Suspect identified in Brusly hostage case, armed robbery

The suspected armed robber whom West Baton Rouge Parish authorities shot and killed while he threatened a hostage’s life Monday night had a 34-year criminal record dating back to when he was a teenager in 1979, a sheriff’s spokesman said Tuesday.

Ray Charles Hayes, 50, 979 Avenue C, Port Allen, had been arrested more than 20 times in East Baton Rouge Parish and served at least two terms in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, said Col. Richie Johnson, of the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.

Hayes was identified by authorities as the robber who held up a pharmacy in Brusly, then tried to escape with a hostage in a commandeered police patrol unit.

Hayes’ first stint in Angola was from 1983 to 1993, Johnson said. The convicted felon was sentenced to Angola again in 1993 and was released in 2005, he added.

Johnson said Hayes’ rap sheet shows he had been arrested in connection with multiple armed robberies, first-degree felony, felony theft, possession of firearms, first-degree murder and simple escape with second-degree battery.

Hayes also had been arrested and booked with a Dec. 4, 1992, armed robbery in Livingston Parish, Johnson said.

Hayes was arrested and booked in September with trying to sneak contraband into the Louisiana Department of Corrections’ Allen Correctional Center in Kinder, Johnson said.

Johnson said Tuesday afternoon he didn’t know why Hayes was released or if he was still on probation in connection with the Allen Correctional Center case.

Investigators suspect Hayes also may have committed the armed robbery of a Port Allen pharmacy nearly two weeks ago, Johnson added.

Port Allen Police Chief Esdron Brown said Tuesday that facts surrounding the Jan. 9 armed robbery of Bourg’s Drug Store in Port Allen are “very similar” to what happened when Hayes robbed Noah’s Pharmacy on Monday night in Brusly.

Brown said a masked man armed with a gun entered Bourg’s Drug Store around 6:04 p.m. Jan. 9 and demanded employees give him certain drugs he specified and about $600 in cash.

The suspect then bound the four employees working that night with duct tape and fled the drugstore on foot before police arrived, Brown said.

“We think he parked a getaway car a couple blocks from the pharmacy,” Brown said.

No injuries were reported in the Port Allen robbery, Brown said.

Brusly Police Chief Jamie Whaley said his department received a call around 6 p.m. Monday from a witness who said she saw a man wearing a ski mask enter Noah’s Pharmacy.

Whaley said Brusly police, with assistance from the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, Addis Police Department and Louisiana State Police, surrounded the drug store and spotted Hayes leaving from the back door carrying a pillowcase they later found had been stuffed with drugs and about $400 cash.

“When we yelled for him to get on the ground, that’s when he went back inside,” Whaley said.

Hayes’ next move was to leave the drugstore moments later with a woman customer whom he forced into an Addis Police Department vehicle.

Hayes made the hostage take the wheel and drive down La. 1 at high speed trailed by law enforcement authorities, said Johnson, of the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.

Moments before reaching the La. 1 bridge over the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Johnson said, the police unit with the fugitive and hostage inside went out of control and flipped upside down in the grassy highway median.

“He was still holding her hostage, so two negotiators were on the scene trying to talk to him for about 20 minutes,” Johnson said. “But then, he gave us an ultimatum and said he was going to count down and shoot the hostage and then shoot himself at the end of the countdown.”

Johnson said Hayes started counting from five.

“When he got to two, the Addis officer fired and shot him in the upper torso,” Johnson said.

Hayes died on the scene, he said.

The hostage was taken to a Baton Rouge hospital for treatment of minor injuries, according to reports. Authorities did not release her name Tuesday.

When police entered Noah’s Pharmacy, they freed three drug store employees, Whaley said.

Col. Johnson said late Tuesday investigators had located the car in which a woman was seated while the vehicle was parked behind Noah’s Pharmacy at the time of the Monday evening robbery.

Johnson said the car is a black 2000 Pontiac Firebird found at 8:30 p.m. in a Baton Rouge residential area.

Johnson said investigators had determined the identity of the woman seen sitting in the car but were not releasing her name to the public as of Tuesday night.