Latest Louisiana news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. CST


New outside group formed to back Louisiana governor's agenda

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards' allies have formed an outside organization to promote the Louisiana leader's agenda as the state's next legislative session looms. The political nonprofit is called A Stronger Louisiana. It doesn't have to disclose its donors and is a type of organization commonly called a “dark money” group. Its president is listed in documents as Randy Morris, owner of West Carroll Health Systems. Formation of the organization was announced Tuesday by Edwards' reelection campaign manager, Richard Carbo. Edwards faces a more conservative, majority-Republican House and Senate in his second term. The next legislative session begins March 9.


Soggy neighborhoods under flash-flood warning in Mississippi

RIDGELAND, Miss. (AP) — Water levels are dropping but more rain is coming for parts of the flood-ravaged South, prolonging the misery in neighborhoods with long clean-ups ahead. Hard-hit central Mississippi was under a flash flood watch Tuesday. The National Weather Service said rainfall of up to 2 inches — with higher amounts possible in some spots — were expected to fall in a short amount of time. Forecasters say that could worsen ongoing river flooding in the region. The national Weather Prediction Center says the threat of heavy rain Tuesday will be greatest across parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.


Pastor charged with assault, accused of road rage shooting

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Authorities in Louisiana say a pastor has been accused of shooting at truck driver during a road rage incident. Christopher "Checkerz" Williams was arrested Feb. 11 and faces several charges including aggravated assault with a firearm and aggravated criminal damage to property. The Advocate reports 47-year-old Williams is the lead pastor at Renew Church in Baton Rouge. State Police spokesman Trooper Taylor Scrantz says Williams caused a minor crash, pulled out a gun and shot at an 18-wheeler, hitting the front of the trailer. Williams fled and was later apprehended. It's unclear whether Williams has an attorney.


After 52 days, Louisiana plane crash victim leaves hospital

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — The only person to survive a December plane crash in south Louisiana that killed the other five people on board has gone home after nearly two months months in the hospital. News outlets reported that the hospital said in a statement that Wade Berzas was discharged Monday. He had spent 52 days at the center's burn unit. The hospital released photos of Berzas with one arm was in a sling and the other wrapped in white bandages. The plane was bound for Atlanta to watch the college football game between Louisiana State University and Oklahoma when it crashed shortly after takeoff in Lafayette in December.


Support dog will sit with girl at her accused rapist's trial

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — An emotional support dog with a Louisiana District Attorney's Office will accompany a 8-year-old girl while she testifies at the trial of her accused rapist. Judge Beau Higginbotham ruled Thursday that a 4-year-old Labrador and golden retriever mix name Diesel will be allowed to sit with the girl during a jury trial. She will testify at 32-year-old Anthony James Tipton trial. He is accused of raping the girl in 2015 and 2016. Tipton's attorney says jurors will sympathize with the girl when they see the dog. Diesel's handler says he's trained to be unobtrusive. Higginbotham says a barrier will prevent jurors from seeing the dog at the girl's feet. The trial begins March 16.


Trump pardons ex-San Francisco 49ers owner DeBartolo Jr.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has pardoned Edward DeBartolo Jr., the former San Francisco 49ers owner convicted in a gambling fraud scandal. DeBartolo Jr. built the San Francisco 49ers' 1980s-1990s dynasty. He was involved in one of the biggest owners' scandals in the sport's history. In 1998, he pleaded guilty to failing to report a felony when he paid $400,000 to former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards in exchange for a riverboat gambling license. The White House announced the surprise decision to reporters on Tuesday. NFL great Jerry Rice played on three of DeBartolo's Super Bowl-winning teams and says DeBartolo “was like that 12th man” of the great 49ers teams.


Police: Uber driver who drove wrong way shoots at passengers

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An Uber driver accused of firing shots at passengers who told him he was going the wrong direction has been arrested in Louisiana. News outlets report 53-year-old Ahmad Ahmad picked up the passengers early Sunday morning in New Orleans. Police say the passengers asked him to take them to Kenner, but he started driving over the Mississippi River. When informed that he was going the wrong way, Ahmad stopped the car. Police were called and the passengers hailed another Uber. When that driver arrived, Ahmad allegedly took their keys, got a gun and shot at the victims. Ahmad was arrested after he returned to the scene of the shooting.


South Louisiana port gets $13M federal grant for upgrades

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Port of South Louisiana is receiving a $13 million federal transportation grant it will use to upgrade its industrial park and allow it to carry heavier cargo. Port executive director Paul Aucoin says the funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation will pay to build a new floor in a bulk cargo warehouse, improve the conveyor that runs from the dock to the warehouse and rehabilitate an access road. He says the money also will be used to build a new rail spur and dock access road to support the movement of heavy cargo. The industrial park in Reserve is called Globalplex. About 315 people work at the facility. Aucoin says the improvements could lead to more hiring.