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UPDATE on teen death: Sheriff says "we have to get control of our kids"

Posted at 11:28 AM, Jan 24, 2021

UPDATE: Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso called a press conference this evening to talk about the stabbing at a Lake Charles Walmart that left a 15-year-old girl dead and a 13-year-old accused of murder.

Three other girls, ages 14, 13 and 12, also are accused in connection with the death. Mancuso said the girls allegedly stole knives from the Walmart to stab the victim. He said the entire case was recorded on social media, with videos and posts and pictures that are "very disturbing."

He also said this is third homicide in six months involving children younger than 16 years of age.

"We have a problem in our community we're going to have to address," he said. "They come from all backgrounds, all races, this is just a problem we are having with children having access to weapons, or stealing weapons. It's just heartbreaking when we have to come in and pick up the pieces because so many families are damaged... This is a cycle that we have to stop, and we're just fed up with it."

Mancuso said that immediately all law enforcement in the parish will be aggressively enforcing curfews set by state and local laws: 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and midnight to 5 a.m. on weekends. However, that being said, police can't solve these problems.

"This is not something we can police our way out of. I just don't feel like this is a police matter. This is a parenting issue," he said. "People need to know where their kids are. They need to know what's going on in their lives. We're going to take some aggressive steps. This is going to be parish-wide, every city, we're all going to be on the same page. We're going to have zero tolerance on curfew violators."

He pleaded with parents to keep track of their kids' social media. He said "the whole murder played out on there," he said. Parents have to put limits on their kids' phones and look at what they're posting and seeing it. Mancuso said he's certain that some people "saw this coming" on social media and "never said a word. He said he knows it's hard sometimes for people who aren't "tech savvy" but it's not optional, he said.

"You better learn. You better figure out how to do it," Mancuso said.

Mancuso asked everyone with children in their lives to help.

"I'm asking you tonight, for our parents to take control. they have to. We can't do this. We can arrest them, but that's not going to solve the problem. It's going to take parenting; knowing where their kids are, what they're involved in, what they're doing.
I know many of us are in the most difficult times of our lives. There's not a lot for our kids to do right now. We're just not in normal circumstances, but that is no excuse for the behavior that is going on in our community with our juveniles," he said. "They're breaking the law and they're getting violent and we can't tolerate it. I'm asking you to not put us in that position."

Mancuso said his people will be meeting with store managers and owners, to be sure they know what their rights are regarding loitering juveniles.

"You're dropping kids off, they're not supervised. So we're going to meet with stores and make sure they know what their rights are. You can't just go to stores and hang out if you're not purchasing or legitimately doing something there," he said.

Bottom line, he said, Calcasieu Parish has to "take control of our kids."

"We're asking everybody to step up and get involved. All of us: parent, grandparent, store owners. We can't let this happen, because it's going to get worse and it's going to get completely out of control," he said. "We as a society cannot tolerate this behavior. We cannot sit back and let this happen."

Earlier today, the sheriff reported that four teens have been arrested and a fifth teen is dead after a fight at a store last night.

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to a grocery store on Highway 14 in Lake Charles at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday night.

Deputies learned that several young girls were fighting in the store, and during the fight a 15-year-old girl was stabbed. She was taken to a hospital, where she died, deputies say.

After an investigation, sheriff's detectives arrested four girls, ages 14, 13, 13 and 12, and booked them in connection with the incident. One of them is booked with second-degree murder, and the other three are booked with principal to second-degree murder.

The investigation is continuing and anyone with information is asked to contact the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office at 491-3605.

Here's the sheriff's full press conference, from KPLC: