Arrest warrant out for teen gunman whose escape La. juvenile officials still won’t acknowledge

Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 10:25 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A shooting victim calls on the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice to alert the public of his attacker’s escape from custody, as a judge notifies his family of an arrest warrant for the fugitive 12 days after they say he got out.

Four years ago, 13-year-old Lynell Reynolds robbed and shot Darrelle Scott, leaving him paralyzed and bound to a wheelchair.

Orleans Parish Juvenile Court Judge Candice Anderson sentenced Reynolds to juvenile life for attempted murder, meaning he was to remain in secure custody until he turned 21. But Anderson later approved Reynolds’ transfer to an unsecured group home in Lake Charles, over objections from the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office and the victim’s worried family.

It’s from that Lake Charles facility that Reynolds most recently escaped.

The family says Anderson has apologized for allowing the transfer. But nearly two weeks after the violent offender absconded from supervision, the Office of Juvenile Justice remains silent on his escape.

“He’s out and he’s not supposed to be. So, here we are,” Scott said. “Just because you put a warrant out, it’s a little bit too late for that. I pulled up (to Juvenile Court on Monday) and I actually thought I saw him there. But it was just someone that looked like him.”

Orleans DA Jason Williams warned Sunday that anyone aiding and abetting the teen fugitive would also face criminal charges.

“Someone’s helping him, but no one has been aiding us in any way,” Scott’s grandmother Dorothy White told Fox 8. “Not even any phone calls. There’s no transparency.”

Scott says he does not think Reynolds’ punishment for attempted murder has been fair.

“If you want an even exchange, you get out when I start walking again,” he said.

Anderson has not responded to questions from Fox 8, but the victim’s family says the judge committed to them that she would order Reynolds back into a secure facility through age 21 if he is apprehended. But White is not convinced Reynolds won’t try to break out again.

“This is Lynell Reynolds’ fourth escape,” she said. “And I believe that if they had found Lynell by now, we wouldn’t have been notified. This remains to be seen. I don’t have a lot of confidence at all in the system, especially in the juvenile system.”

The family says a bombshell detail was revealed for the first time in court Monday: That Reynolds turned 18 years old in early September, before his escape.

“He not protected (by juvenile shield laws). So there’s no reason to keep him shielded, especially with the crime that he did,” Scott said. “There’s no reason to protect him anymore. Or there’s no obligation, I should say, because you’re dangerous.”

Fox 8 has tried for several days to ask the state Office of Juvenile Justice why it has not alerted the public that a teen sentenced for attempted murder escaped its custody. The OJJ has still not responded. And Anderson has not publicly explained why she elected to approve Reynolds’ transfer out of secure custody.

“We know one thing. If you leave him there to 21, he will live to see 21 years old,” White said. “The route he’s taking ... everyone should be on edge.”

The DA’s office says Reynolds turning 18 will not impact the juvenile charges he’s already facing, but it does remove certain protections of concealing his identity.

State law already allows for the OJJ to share a juvenile escapee’s name and photograph, and it remains unclear why the department has chosen to conceal the teen gunman’s escape from the public. It also is unclear which law enforcement agencies the OJJ has asked to help find the violent teen offender.

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