SHREVEPORT, La. – Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook, along with Caddo Parish District Attorney James E. Stewart, Shreveport Police Chief Ben Raymond and Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator, and agents from the ATF, FBI and DEA, held a press conference today to discuss their efforts to increase the investigation and prosecution of cases against violent criminals in the City of Shreveport.
In November 2019, U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced the launch of Project Guardian, a nationwide strategic plan to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws across the country. Reducing gun violence and enforcing federal firearms laws have always been among the Department’s highest priorities. Project Guardian emphasizes the importance of using all modern technologies available to law enforcement to promote gun crime intelligence.
Another federal partnership initiative with local law enforcement to address the rise in violent crimes in our nation has also been introduced and named, Operation Legend. This operation honors the memory of four-year old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while asleep in bed early in the morning of June 29 in Kansas City, Missouri. Operation Legend began in the larger cities of our nation which have seen a spike in violent crime, including Kansas City, Missouri, St. Louis, Albuquerque, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Memphis, Milwaukee and Indianapolis. These gun crimes are not just a problem in our larger cities, but also here in the Western District of Louisiana.
The Project Guardian program, along with Operation Legend, encourages joint efforts between federal and local law enforcement agencies. Because of these programs and joint efforts of the agencies that are represented here today and other law enforcement partners, we have brought over 386 federal firearm prosecutions in the Western District of Louisiana since 2017 and our efforts are increasing. Below are some statistics:
- FY17 through FY19, 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.
- On average, that is 82 cases per year being prosecuted in our district.
These numbers show that we have been committed to prosecuting federal firearm cases and getting dangerous criminals off the streets of our city and pledge to work even harder to bring these offenders to justice. Cooperation with our state and local law enforcement partners in bringing these federal firearms indictments allows our state and local partners to concentrate on other crimes in our district.
Too many lives have been tragically lost and too many people have been senselessly injured due to gun violence in our city– including most recently 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 now fighting for his life. Since May 2020, there have been shootings in Shreveport where at least ten innocent children have been shot and some killed. 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.
“The aim of Project Guardian and Operation Legend is to provide safe neighborhoods in Shreveport and surrounding areas where the people can safely live, work and raise their families by removing the most violent and dangerous offenders from our streets,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook. “This is a challenging situation for the Shreveport area but we are committed to working with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to address the crime surge in Shreveport. Individuals who take another’s life by pulling a trigger without a second thought must stop. We will not be deterred, and we will continue to step up the pressure on these bad actors. The message is clear, if you threaten the safety and security of innocent people in our communities, you will face the consequences.”
Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator also stated: “Sadly our community is experiencing a proliferation of gun violence. 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.”
Shreveport Police Chief Ben Raymond stated: “The Shreveport Police Department values the relationships we have with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office, Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office, and numerous other agencies in our combined efforts to decrease violent crime. It takes a unified effort to address violence in our community and working together toward that goal is key to our success.”
If you have any information related to individuals committing crimes of violence in Shreveport, please contact Shreveport Police at 318-673-7300 #3, 318-673-6955 or Crime Stoppers at 318-673-7373.
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The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.