Jefferson Parish president joins call to shut down Bridge City youth lockup after escapee allegedly shoots man

Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 5:26 PM CDT
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BRIDGE CITY, La. (WVUE) - Jefferson Parish president Cynthia Lee Sheng is joining other elected officials calling for the shutdown of the Bridge City Center for Youth, after authorities said the fifth escape from the detention center since November resulted Sunday (July 17) in the shooting of a man in Uptown New Orleans.

“I think it should be shut down,” Sheng said.

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office said it will reveal “a detailed plan” for the facility’s future on Tuesday.

The shooting happened just after 4 p.m. Sunday at the corner of Loyola and Nashville avenues. Police said a 17-year-old Bridge City escapee -- identified by a law enforcement source as Kendell Myles -- attempted to carjack a 59-year-old man who was donating beads to a recycling center, and shot the man in the abdomen. The victim has been hospitalized in critical condition, authorities said.

“It was bound to happen ... and it did happen,” said Sen. Patrick Connick (R-Marrero).

The escapee was one of six juveniles who broke out of the Bridge City detention center Sunday around 2:30 a.m. All have been re-captured. This was the fourth breakout this year, the fifth since last November, and now some Bridge City residents refuse to leave loved ones home alone.

“We know they’re young teenagers, but they’re dangerous. And her being a woman, I respect that and I don’t want nothing to happen to her,” resident Hardy Frazier said of his wife.

After the previous breakout in June, juvenile justice leaders committed to do more to secure the detention center. They have cleared a 20-foot path on the up-river side of the perimeter fence, but officials want more done.

“When this happened a month ago, we had someone come to the council and tell us it’s a staffing issue, and then put 20 extra people there and this still happened,” Sheng said.

“Whoever is responsible needs to find a new job,” Connick said.

Connick said there is a plan to transfer the most dangerous juvenile offenders from Bridge City to another state correctional facility, but said he was told that could take as long as 2 1/2 more months to complete.

Some residents said they received no email or phone alert about Sunday morning’s escape.

“Something’s not adding up,” Hardy said. “The officers have experience. There’s no way in the world these young kids outsmarted the officers like that. Something is wrong with this picture.”

Sheng said it’s clear to her that the detention facility should never have been built near a residential neighborhood, which all too often finds itself in harm’s way.

The Office of Juvenile Justice did not respond Monday to questions about security failures that enabled the latest breakout, but Gov. Edwards’ office said it will reveal “a detailed plan” for the facility’s future on Tuesday.

“We have been reviewing what happened this past weekend to determine the best path forward for the youth at Bridge City and also for the surrounding community,” Edwards’ communications director Shauna Sanford said in a statement. “We will be sharing an update on the steps that have been taken in response to the incident ... and a detailed plan for the future of Bridge City (on Tuesday). The governor’s focus is on ensuring the safety of the youth, the staff and the surrounding community.”

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