SHREVEPORT, La. - Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander Van Hook, along with Caddo Parish District Attorney James Stewart, Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator and Shreveport Police Chief Ben Raymond announced a partnership Tuesday to crack down on violent crime.
The partnership is an expansion of Operation Legend into the Shreveport area. Operation Legend is a federal initiative to reduce gun crimes in larger cities, including St. Louis, Chicago and Cleveland.
The initiative focuses on prosecuting those accused of gun-related crimes on the federal level, rather than the local level.
Van Hook explained Tuesday this allows local district attorneys to focus on prosecuting other crimes in their community, and reduces the odds that a suspect will be freed on bond, only to commit another crime.
He said too many lives have been "tragically lost and too many people have been senselessly injured due to gun violence in our city," including most recent this past weekend when a 2-year-old was shot in the abdomen during an exchange of gunfire between multiple people. This innocent toddler is still hospitalized with serious injuries.
Since May 2020, there have been shootings in Shreveport where at least 10 children have been shot and some killed, he added.
"Our organized efforts are in honor of these and the many other victims who suffered at the hands of these dangerous criminals. Many Shreveport neighborhoods are filled with gun shots being fired randomly. Local community leaders and officials have held prayer vigils and rallies to try to bring awareness to this situation and encourage individuals in our community to stop the gun violence," Van Hook said.
“Sadly our community is experiencing a proliferation of gun violence," Prator said. "The common thread is the illegal possession of guns by gangsters, many of which are supplying illicit drugs to our young people. We MUST cut this thread by aggressive law enforcement and prosecution of these thugs.”
Van Hook said through joint efforts of the local law enforcement the government has brought over 386 federal firearm prosecutions in the Western District of Louisiana since 2017.
He also noted:
- From 2017 through 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted approximately 285 firearm related offenses, including felons and drug dealers in possession of firearms, in the entire Western District of Louisiana, with 113 defendants being in the Shreveport Division alone.
- These prosecutions represent approximately three times the number of such cases than have been brought in previous years