Governor Bobby Jindal announces the Department of Health and Hospitals is canceling Planned Parenthood's Medicaid provider agreement. The decision comes after secretly taped videos showed Planned Parenthood officials talking about using aborted fetus parts for medical research.
Jindal says Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of Louisiana residents.
Although Planned Parenthood doesn't perform abortions in Louisiana, they do provide health care services for low-income families. Planned Parenthood has 30 days to appeal.
In a statement, Planned Parenthood says Jindal's decision will jeopardize health care for low-income, uninsured women and men who have turned to them for basic preventive health care such as cancer screenings, birth control and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
Shreveport Police are looking for a 27-year-old man who pointed his gun at officers early Thursday morning. Officers attempted to stop a vehicle after discovering the plates didn't match the car. Chief Administrative Assistant Bill Goodin says the two men in the car, 30-year-old Joe Thompkins Jr. and 27-year-old Brandon Chin, jumped out of the moving vehicle and fled on foot.
"One of our patrol officers initiated pursuit of the passenger when the man fell to the ground. As Officer Francis closed in to take him into custody the suspect allegedly produced a handgun and pointed it at the officer."
Goodin says during the pursuit, Chin, who was the passenger, regained his footing and started waving the gun at the officer again. He says the officer then fired two shots at Chin but the suspect was able to elude the officers.
"Detectives obtained arrest warrants for the gunman charging his with one count of convicted felon in possession of a firearm and one count of aggravated assault upon a peace officer."
Goodin says they were able to make arrangements for the driver, Thompkins, to surrender himself and he was booked on one count of flight from an officer, one count of switched license plate, and three misdemeanor traffic bench warrants. Chin is still on the loose.
"So we are still looking for him, he's on the lam at this hour. We are still searching for him and would certainly ask anyone who has any information about his whereabouts to contact the Shreveport-Caddo Parish Crime Stoppers."
The massive Bayou Corne sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish, which forced the evacuation of hundreds of nearby residents, formed three years ago today.
It was created from a collapsed underground salt dome cavern operated by Texas Brine.
Assumption Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness director John Boudreaux says the area is a ghost town.
"Of the 159 residents back then, there's only about 15 that remain," said Boudreaux.
Boudreaux says the latest data by Texas Brine shows the sinkhole has only grown by about an acre and a half so far this year. He says some scientists believe the pit will continue to slowly get bigger over the next decade.
"And so no more dramatic events like what happened several years ago," says Boudreaux. "But it is a slow process that continues to grow in size."
Boudreaux says they are still monitoring the bubble spots monthly to ensure the safety of the residents who have remained in the small community.
He says even though the sinkhole has stabilized, they continue to keep a close eye on it to make sure there are no more dramatic changes.
"It's definitely growing slower that it has over the past years, but those events have slowed down dramatically," said Boudreaux.
The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's office is investigating the death of a white female who was found nude in an apartment in Pointe-aux-Chenes. Sheriff's Office Capt. Dawn Foret says they have arrested 50-year-old Lee Dupre, who is the tenant of the apartment, and charged him with obstruction of justice.
"He moved her body and covered her, essentially altering the scene through other means and then left her in the residence until investigators found her.
Foret says they are unsure if Dupre is a suspect because they're still determining the cause of death.
"At this time we don't know if it was an accidental death or if there is foul play involved and as the investigation progresses we'll be able to determine if he had a role in her death at all."
Foret says they're still waiting on dental records to ID the victim . She says identifying her was difficult because authorities found her decomposing.
East Baton Rouge Parish DA Hillar Moore says cell phone encryption is making it difficult to solve the murders of 29-year-old Brittney Mills and her son. Mills, who was 8 months pregnant at the time, was shot and killed on April 24th at her apartment. The baby later died at a hospital. Moore says they can't get into her Apple iPhone.
(Mills photo from Facebook)
"In this operating system, Apple has advertised that they can not get into their own system even if it's court ordered," said Moore.
Moore says the victim had the iOS-8 operating software on her iPhone and nobody knows her pass code. Therefore, he says they are unable to access any of Mills' last text messages, phone calls and contacts.
"They built this system to where they can not get into it," says Moore. "We're skeptical of that. If there is another 9/11 or Boston Marathon crisis, that kind of information is critical."
Moore says that this software is installed on more than 80 percent of cellphones now and believes the encryption system makes it easier for bad guys to hide behind crime.
He says this is the only system that does not have to comply to court orders which could lead to critical information when it comes to solving murders such as Mills'.
"We are really frustrated by the inability to get into this particular phone, as well as others and I feel like it's going to get worse from here on out," said Moore.
Today is the 40th birthday of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Dome officially opened on August 3, 1975 after almost four years of construction. General Manager Alan Freeman says 40 years is a great run, but the facility still has a lot of life left.
He says that's why they decided to theme this anniversary year, "40 Strong".
"To commemorate not only the history of the Dome, but also the fact that it's got a very, very promising future."
He says upgrades to the stadium has kept the Superdome a viable venue to host some of the world's biggest events. Freeman says they are constantly looking at ways to enhance the fan's experience at the Dome.
"Over the next couple of years, you're going to see and hear a new sound system in the building, enlarged video screens. Both of those projects are being funded by the Saints."
The Saints are the Superdome's primary tenant. Over the years, the Superdome has hosted seven Super Bowls, five Final Fours, and a WrestleMania, just to name a few. Freeman is confident all of these and more will return to the Dome.
"We're very optimistic about the future. We're going to get some more of these events. We are still a major player when it comes to hosting major championship sporting events."
The four candidates for governor say they want to improve access for mental health care as a way to prevent another mass shooting incident like the deadly Lafayette movie theater shooting. Democrat John Bel Edwards says you can't put a price on mental healthcare and he's been fighting for more access to it for years.
"I am committed to reinvesting in mental health services for our citizens. I am committed to preventing violence in as many instances as possible by treating mental health and rehabilitating the mentally ill to save our lives and theirs."
Republican David Vitter says the tragic event shows it's necessary to focus on mental health issues and it's part of his campaign platform.
"In terms of policy, I think this certainly highlights the need to focus on mental health issues and in fact that is already addressed in my plan, the plan I'm building my run for Governor on."
Republican Scott Angelle says we must take a serious look at mental health laws in Louisiana and across the nation while enforcing laws to make sure there are proper background checks for those buying guns. He says he doesn't want this despicable event to negatively effect lawful people.
"I don't believe it's good public policy to make it more difficult for law abiding citizens to have access to a constitutional right to bear arms."
Republican Jay Dardenne says he wants to create the opportunity to identify which people should be able to purchase a gun. He says we have appropriate laws to keep weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill but we need to increase mental healthcare funding in the state.
"We need assessment and treatment options that will be cost effective for Louisianians. Not only is this the right and humane thing to do, it also has the potential to reduce the high cost of incarceration for nonviolent offenders."
Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany will spearhead an effort to re-write the nation’s welfare reform laws. The country’s welfare system hasn’t seen any major changes since 1996 and Boustany has been asked by House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan to lead a rewrite. Boustany says his desire is that welfare recipients find permanent work.
"Lets get people off welfare into work and hopefully meaningful work that helps them move up the opportunity ladder."
Boustany says in order for welfare recipients to find long lasting jobs, they need to have the ability to receive education and training…
"Programs can be as long as 24 months or short as 6 weeks. We're trying to match up what we're doing with actual job training that gets people into meaningful work.
Boustany says when welfare was reformed in 1996, steps were taken to make sure recipients to find work. He says the goal this time around is not only employment, but an opportunity to increase earning potential over time for the tens of millions of people who are receiving government assistance
"We really need to do something. You can't have a productive growing economy and a productive society if you have that many people who are left out of it."
GasBuddy is predicting Louisiana's statewide average for a gasoline will fall below $2 a gallon in October. GasBuddy Analyst Gregg Laskoski says the decline in prices will accelerate after the Labor Day Holiday.
"We've got a tremendous inventory of crude oil as well as gasoline. We're also looking at basic crude oil, the West Texas Intermediate trading at about $47 a barrel so all of this points to lower gas prices."
Laskoski says currently the statewide average is about about $2.39 for a gallon of regular gasoline. He says this is good news for consumers when it comes to upcoming holiday shopping.
"Anybody who is watching the prices at the pump knows that they're going to have a little more cash in their pockets come Thanksgiving and Christmas. Unfortunately, it's not a windfall but at least people know that they'll have a little bit more to pay the bills."
Laskoski says February was the last time prices was under two dollars a gallon in Louisiana. He says they're also seeing strong production numbers from refineries, which is steadily keeping prices low.
"We saw refinery output at about 95% of capacity, the Gulf Coast refineries of course is the most significant region for oil production and they were right there at 94 or 95%."
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore announced that criminal charges against LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings and two other football players have been dropped.
Jennings, defensive lineman Maquedius Bain and defensive back Dewayne Thomas were arrested in June for allegedly breaking into someone's apartment and taking items that belonged to Jennings.
The East Baton Rouge district attorney's office released this statement on Friday describing their decision.
The District Attorney’s Office has thoroughly reviewed all of the evidence and documents associated with the arrests of Anthony Jennings, Dwayne Thomas and Maquedius Bain.
Based upon our review no formal charges will be filed against any of these defendants.
This decision is based upon the request of the victim that no charges be filed and inconsistent and contradictory statements provided. Although the conduct of these students in this situation is unacceptable, it is not one, based on the facts that warrant prosecution, although their actions could have subjected them to such.
Jennings, Thomas and Bain were suspended from the team following the arrest. Coach Les Miles says they've been reinstated and will report with the team for fall camp on August 5th. Miles says the players will face further in-house discipline.
State Superintendent of Education John White announces two daycare centers in Louisiana have had their licenses revoked - one in Baton Rouge and one in Bossier City.
He says while the majority of child care providers do an excellent job taking care of kids, there are a couple who refuse to follow the law.
"In one case a child was even left at a restaurant amusement venue for a time," says White. "We're talking about children who are under the age of 5 and it wasn't even reported to the family or the state."
White says Our Blessings Christian Daycare Learning Center is the one whose staff is accused of leaving a two-year-old child behind during a field trip and didn't tell the parents.
He says they know of some cases in which a daycare had its license revoked by the state recently but they've continued operating.
"That's illegal and a full force and effect of the law should be brought to bear," says White. "That's why it's important for parents who have children in child care make sure that the center has a license."
White says the Storybook Daycare and Discovery Zone in Bossier City had its license taken away due to continued regulations violations including improper child/staff ratio and not conducting employee background checks.
He most Louisiana child care providers are doing an excellent job taking care of kids.
"That's why we have to be vigilant anytime someone puts our kids in harms way and that we waste no time and rectify the situation immediately," says White. "We will not tolerate our kids being in unsafe conditions."
Lake Charles Police announce that they have solved an aggravated rape case from October of 1999. Deputy Chief of Police, Mark Kraus, says the seven month investigation culminated in an arrest warrant for 45-year-old Austin Mott.
Kraus says advances in technology led to them getting a DNA match from the physical evidence.
"The match came out of a prison in Texas where this person is serving prison time for a sexual crime against a child."
In the 1999 incident, the victim was severely beaten and sexually assaulted while jogging at the Lake Charles Civic Center. Kraus says they have re-opened several cold cases in recent months and are working diligently to solve them. Kraus has a message for anyone who has committed a violent crime against the citizens of southwest Louisiana.
"Sleep tonight with one eye opened. We are not giving up on these cases. We're not giving up on our victims."
A new report finds older adults that stop driving are almost two times more likely to suffer from depression and nearly 5 times more likely to enter a long term care facility than those who remain behind the wheel. The study is by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and Columbia University. AAA Spokesperson Don Redman says the results are not all that surprising.
"I think that has really been part of of the American psyche for generations, where we equate our vehicles or being able to transport ourselves around the community, as our freedom."
Redman says many adults are having to talk to their elderly parents about taking away their keys. He says if you do take that step, it could lead to your parents becoming less social and active.
"When you lose that, when you have to turn in those keys it has a devastating effect on the mental health and physical health of the person and they also become alienated from the rest of the community."
Redman says this study shows that if you or your parents are no longer able to drive, it's important that you still help them remain mobile.
"Be more vigilant, more involved in their lives to make sure that you're keeping them involved with different activities and maybe there are some outside activities through senior centers and that kind of things."
Over 260 bills passed in this year's legislative session become law on August 1st. One measure makes it illegal to post or share nude images of people on the internet without their consent.
Kenner Representative Julie Stokes, who authored the legislation, says "revenge porn" has destroyed lives.
"People have attempted suicide based on how these pictures get used against them and the exploitive nature that they're used."
Violators of the law could face up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Prior laws made it illegal to send nude images of someone under the age of 17, but this is aimed at protecting adults. Stokes says this law sends a powerful message.
"It's not your right to cause someone, sometimes, irreparable emotional harm just because you're mad at them or want to get back at them or want to cyber bully them. I just think we have to draw a line somewhere."
Another law going into effect Saturday doubles littering fines across the state. Fines for simple littering will go from $75 to $150 and up to $1000 for subsequent offenses. Susan Russell, Executive Director of Keep Louisiana Beautiful, says they support anything that increases the litter enforcement effort.
"We can't stress enough of how important it is to hold people accountable for their actions in our state."
Improper disposal of items like furniture and appliances could end up costing offenders $10,000 under the new law. The additional revenue will go toward the retirement system of the agency that issues the litter citation. Russell says it's a shame that laws like this need to be on the books.
"If everybody just took personal responsibility for their behavior and their actions, laws on books wouldn't need to be enforced."
It’s not too late for the Who Dat nation to head to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia where the Saints are holding training camp. Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau Spokesperson Kristi Godby says in small town West Virginia, they don’t have an NFL team so they’re welcoming the Saints with open arms for a second straight year.
“We’re so excited to have our adopted team here. You see all the Saints flags out all through White Sulphur Springs, you would almost think you were somewhere closer to New Orleans.”
Godby says last year they received many Louisiana visitors and expect to see more this year as training camp continues through August 20th. She says fans that come to the Greenbrier will finally be able to escape the extreme southern heat.
“It’s only about 75 degrees right now and I think the high might get into the low 80s. We’ve ordered really, really good weather for the Saints so we’ll see if our order comes in or not.”
Godby says the Patriots will be making a special appearance toward the end of training camp to have a scrimmage against the Saints. The drive to White Sulphur Springs is 13 hours from New Orleans. She says they do have a local airport which puts you 10 minutes away from the Saints training camp location.
“Some other regional airports would be like Roanoke, Virginia or Charleston, West Virginia would also be good options and those would be a little less than 2 hours to get here.”
The State Department of Transportation is warning motorists who are heading west on Interstate 10, west of Baton Rouge that they could encounter heavy delays this weekend. DOTD Spokesperson Rodney Mallett says starting at 8 p.m. tonight, one lane near exit 139 will be closed for repair.
"We have crews out that are going to be doing some repair work for the bridge that goes over the railroad. Some of those approached slabs of asphalt have been deteriorating for quite some time."
Mallett says the lane will reopen on Monday, August 3rd at 6 a.m. He advises drivers to take any detour they can to stay out of the expected congestion.
"Depending on where you're going, you can go up I-10 and get on 190 and do the old bridge. You can go over the new bridge and get on LA-415 and get on US 190."
Mallett says with construction taking place in Iberville Parish and in the Slidell area on I-10, they've advised truckers or those traveling across country to use I-20. He says the public can stay up to date on all roadwork by using their website.
"The deal is you can use that 511LA.org, that's a great service we provide so you can plan your route ahead of time."
The night sky will light up tonight with what's known as a blue moon. LSU Astronomy Professor Brad Schaeffer says the moon will not look blue, but it's referred as a "blue moon" because it's the second time in a calendar month that there's been a full moon.
"That's a completely wacko definition that has no utility to anything, it just doesn't matter."
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the phenomenon only occurs once every three years. Schaeffer says there's really no scientific reason why it's called a blue moon other than it's the second full moon of the month.
"This is the sort of thing that news stories highlight because it's something you can talk about but there is no utlilty for astronomy, for the average person, for anybody."
Schaeffer says there is a common urban myth that strange things happen during a full or blue moon which studies have now debunked.
"People have troubles all the time and you only remember those around the time of the full moon."
The Lafayette Police Department has released surveillance video of the Grand Theater lobby and hallways just moments before John Houser opened fire on a theater of patrons, July 23rd, 2015.
(video and 911 calls posted below)
The gunman can be seen purchasing a ticket, entering the lobby and walking into a screening of "Trainwreck" just prior to the shooting which claimed the lives of two women and injured 9.
Houser walked inside the 7:10pm showing of the film about 10 minutes after the movie started. Initial police reports indicate he opened fire at 7:28pm.
Authorities indicate the time-stamp on the footage is 18 minutes and 25 seconds faster than the actual time that night.
Cops have also released 911 calls from the night of the shooting:
The two women killed in the shooting are identified as 21-year-old Mayci Breaux and 33-year-old Jillian Johnson. Cops say Houser wasn't in the theater long before he stood up and began methodically firing shots at people.
Authorities say Houser suffered from a series of extreme mental problems and had even been committed by his family in 2008.
Cops believe Houser began to leave with the crowd rushing out, but turned around when he saw officers had already arrived, then turned the gun on himself.
The Slidell Police Department says a group of organized criminals were busted for stealing nearly half a million dollars at businesses with ATMs and check cashing outlets over the past year. Sgt. Daniel Seuzeneau says two suspects, 36-year-old Marvin Hudson and 44-year-old Allden Jones, were arrested after trying to steal $12,000 from the Cash Cow in Slidell.
Seuzeneau says the pair had a sophisticated scheme going.
"The suspects would methodically choose a location. They would test the alarm and then conduct counter-surveillance to see how police would respond."
Seuzeneau says the two were often able to complete their burglaries in two minutes.
"And in those two minutes, they would either take the entire ATM machine or cut open the safe. Sometimes getting away with as much as $20,000 in cash."
He says the duo were chased to a New Orleans East home and were captured after a short standoff. Hudson and Jones each face burglary and other charges from the Slidell incident. Seuzeneau says it is believed that more people are involved and is hopeful more arrests are coming.
"We're working very close with the FBI and all the other agencies in hopes that we can piece together this organized group and hopefully bring down everybody."
Sweltering heat continues to impact Louisiana. Much of the state is under a Heat Advisory today, with an Extreme Heat Warning in effect for northeast Louisiana.
Danielle Manning, with the National Weather Service in Slidell, says a weak cold front will move across the state as we approach the weekend.
"I'd use that term loosely. Technically it's a cold front, but you're not going to see a whole lot of difference in the temperatures. The main impact will be that it will dry us out and it won't be quite as humid."
Wednesday, several locations in the state either matched or broke high temperature records. Manning says this cold front won't bring afternoon high temperatures down very much.
"We'll still see temperatures in the mid to, even, upper 90s over the weekend, but our heat index values will not be nearly as high."
She says the state can expect the heat to continue through the rest of the summer. Manning says everyone should take precautions dealing with these temperatures.
"It's a good idea to stay out of the sun during the peak heating hours of the day and take lots of breaks if you have to do any work outside."