Attempted murder victim says his attacker escaped juvenile custody, no alert to public

Published: Sep. 23, 2023 at 10:45 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A wheelchair-bound New Orleans shooting victim says he’s scared after learning his attacker escaped a juvenile facility in Calcasieu Parish and is still at large.

Darrelle Scott wonders why it took nine days after the escape for a victim-witness coordinator with the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office to notify him and his family.

“I died like twice on the table,” Scott said. “Who’s to say he didn’t escape to come looking for me. He could have just escaped just to get out, but we don’t know for sure. Only he knows.”

Scott’s life changed forever in 2019 when then-13-year-old Lynell Reynolds robbed and shot him as he walked along Morrison Road in New Orleans East.

Scott was left paralyzed and wheelchair-bound since the shooting.

Juvenile Judge Candice Anderson initially sentenced Reynolds to confinement in a state juvenile facility until he turns 21.

In February 2022, Anderson recommended Reynolds be moved to a group home facility to better reach his goals for release. It’s from that unsecured facility that Scott says Reynolds escaped.

“(Anderson) believes in rehabilitation. I believe in it as well, but when someone has 15 other cases open, there’s kids that deserve the chances that’s been given to him, but you want to give it to this person that paralyzed me?” Scott said.

Scott says his family and his belief in God keeps him fighting for justice.

His grandmother, Dorothy White, says she’s been fearful since learning of Reynolds’ escape, but given the minimal security imposed upon Reynolds, she said she isn’t shocked he got out.

“I’m scared for Darrelle. I’m afraid for myself. But I also have to trust the process. I have to come forward,” White said. “I have to do it for Darrelle. I have to do it for a lot of other victims. Because if I don’t show up for my grandson and I don’t show up for this community, who’s going to do it?”

The state’s Office of Juvenile Justice still has not alerted the public to the escape of Reynolds, who is now 17 years old. The office has not responded to questions from Fox 8.

“Everybody’s kind of undercutting right now,” White said. “It should have been publicly put out there when Lynell escaped from the facility he was in, the step down.”

Scott says he heard from friends that Reynolds posted photos of himself on social media after his escape.

“I went and looked him up. And sure enough, from the screenshot, he posted,” Scott said. “He escaped September 13th. The post is from September 15. That’s two days after you escaped.”

Dorothy White looked at the Instagram posts with disappointment Friday night.

“When I see this post, whew, it’s so disturbing,” White said. “To know that this is a young man that doesn’t have a care in the world for no one else’s life, as well as his life.”

The social media post has since been deleted.

Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams said his office only “discovered” Friday that Reynolds had escaped.

“Friday, my office discovered that a juvenile defendant, recently released from secure custody by the court, escaped after release,” Williams said in a statement. “The defendant was previously confined in OJJ custody on an attempted second-degree murder charge. Following a sentence modification by an Orleans Parish Juvenile Court judge, the defendant was released to a non-secure care program in Lake Charles. This juvenile’s release occurred above the objections of our prosecutors.

“Regrettably, my office was not made aware of the escape by the court or the Office of Juvenile Justice. No one wants to see this. This unfortunate incident should not be held out as an example of what will occur every time someone is released. This isn’t a gotcha moment or opportunism. We are on record clearly objecting to any juvenile system stakeholder effecting the release of offenders for any purpose without a contradictory hearing and full consideration of the risks involved.”

Williams went on to say that his office notified Scott as promptly as possible.

“My office contacted the survivor as soon as we learned of the escape,” Williams said. “The grandmother of this paralyzed survivor has faithfully attended every hearing for this matter. We objected to furloughs and early release from secure care, due to the violent nature of the offense and threat of harm felt by this victim’s family.

“We sincerely hope Lynell Reynolds is apprehended without any harm or injury to community members or law enforcement. Any individual found to have aided and abetted the defendant after his escape will face criminal charges.”

Scott says he is trying to stay focused on his own goals since the shooting four years ago, such as re-learning to walk.

“So, like with my nephew, he’s three now. I’m trying to get back to walking before he turns 10,” Scott said. “Even if it’s with walking strands or with a walker, at least I’ll be more independent than just bound to my wheelchair.”

Fox 8 reached out on Saturday and Sunday to the Office of Juvenile Justice asking about Reynolds’ last know whereabouts, whether he is considered a threat to the public, and how he escaped in the first place.

We have not heard back.

“Lynell will get his life back if he wants to change and get his life back. He can,” White said. “But with Judge Anderson giving so many chances to Lynell, nobody’s giving chances and help to Darrelle.”

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