Questions of security at Baker party shooting being investigated

Tyisha Andrews thought it was odd that security guards were stationed at the front door of the Baker Civic Club for a birthday party.

Nevertheless, the Baker High School student and her best friend, Marcell Franklin, walked into the club.

After each paying $10 to enter at 10 p.m. Friday, the pair received a brief patdown by a female security guard wearing a T-shirt that said simply “Security.”

At 11:15 p.m., shots rang out. Tyisha, 15, ran into a supply closet. Once the shooting stopped, she crept back out to find Marcell, 15, shot to death.

Three other teens also were shot: Kendal Dorsey, 15, and Diontrey Claiborne, 18, both of whom later died from their wounds, and Javaughn Simmons, 19, who is expected to recover.

Diontrey was a senior at Baker High. Marcell attended Zachary High School and Kendal was a student at Scotlandville Magnet High School. Simmons attends Baker High.

On Tuesday, Tyisha said no uniformed officers roamed the floor inside the club. The only security was provided by five or six people wearing similar T-shirts to the female guard working the door, including one shirt that said “Bouncer.”

In the glow provided by strobe lights set up for the party, Tyisha noticed at least two of the security officers were armed, carrying handguns in belt holsters.

The two friends enjoyed themselves, listening to a disc jockey and friends rap onstage, and at one point, Marcell walked onstage and gave a shout out to a friend.

Then, Tyisha said, “everything just broke out at once.”

As the shots rang out, Tyisha saw some of the security personnel run outside with other panicked partygoers who had been celebrating the birthday of a Baker High student known as “Fredo.”

After the shooting inside the club stopped, Tyisha said, she heard more shots fired outside the club.

Baker police have said they found no shell casings inside the club because the alleged shooter, Nakeydran L. Williams, 16, used a revolver when he fired into the packed private party.

However, they did find two shell casings near the front entrance to the club that Baker Police Chief Mike Knaps said Tuesday could be tied to the case and possibly could have been fired by the security guards.

Knaps also would not comment on whether detectives recovered the murder weapon.

Slugs were recovered during the autopsies of Marcell and Kendal on Monday that could be used to match to the murder weapon, Knaps said. He said he could not disclose the caliber of the bullets. but he did say the bullet casings found outside the club did not match the ones recovered through the autopsies.

Knaps also said his detectives are still investigating the role of the security guards at the party.

At a news conference Saturday, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux called the security at the party “nowhere near adequate” for a party of that size.

There were between 50 and 100 people at the party.

Knaps reiterated Tuesday that they knew of only two security guards working the party, neither of whom were law enforcement or, to his knowledge, employees of a private security company. He said there were also a few adult chaperones.

Hazel Mitchell, president of the Baker Civic Club, the private nonprofit that runs the club, said she could not disclose the identity of the person who rented the building for the party. She said police asked her not to release any information related to the renter.

The rental fee for the club is $400 a day, plus a $300 security deposit.

When asked if his detectives had interviewed the person who signed the contract with the club, Knaps said if they did, he was unaware of it.

Mitchell said the civic club felt duped by the person who signed the contract because they thought it would strictly be a birthday party.

The party, which had a commercial aspect, was being videotaped for DVD sales and charged admission to the partygoers.

For the most part, Knaps said, people are cooperating with investigators. However, he again said he could not comment on whether Williams, who was arrested Saturday, was being forthcoming with detectives.

Williams, who was booked on three counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder and one count of illegal use of a weapon, is due back in juvenile court April 14 for a detention hearing.

And at Tuesday night’s Baker School Board meeting, board President Dana Carpenter touched on the tragedy.

“It’s a sad occasion that students were involved in a situation that caused loss of life,” he said. “Our hearts go out to those parents who are suffering now because of this senseless action.”

Freelance writer Emily Beck Cogburn contributed to this report