Anti-gang task force asked for faith-based counseling; reason unknown
The teen accused of wildly firing shots inside a crowded club in Baker, killing three, had been undergoing faith-based counseling at the behest of the parish’s anti-gang task force, according to a pastor who worked with him.
The Rev. Donald Hunter Sr., pastor of New Beginning Baptist Church and founder of the Black Family Initiative, said a licensed counselor with the Black Family Initiative had been working with Nakeydran Williams since the beginning of March and the teen had been responding well.
“He is a young man that none of us would have suspected would have ended up in this situation,” Hunter said.
The Black Family Initiative is a coalition of pastors and community leaders working to address issues such as juvenile crime in north Baton Rouge.
Williams previously attended six months of counseling with the Black Family Initiative at the request of the Office of Juvenile Services in 2012, Hunter said.
Hunter said that because Williams is a minor, he could not get into the specifics of Williams’ counseling, including the reason the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination Project recommended Williams to the Black Family Initiative.
But Hunter said everyone in the 3-year-old Black Family Initiative who dealt with Williams was shocked when they learned of his arrest in the March 28 shooting at the Baker Civic Club.
The shooting left three teens — Marcell Franklin, 15, Kendal Dorsey, 15, and Diontrey Claiborne, 18 — dead. A fourth teen, 19-year-old Javaughn Simmons, was shot in the jaw and is recovering.
“Our counselor … did not see this coming, nor did any other of the officials who were working with the young man,” Hunter said.
Hunter praised the initiative Williams took in his treatment, saying the teen did things — such as contacting his counselor and asking what he needed to do to move forward with his treatment — that many of the other teens receiving counseling through the program would not do.
Hunter said it is not uncommon for BRAVE to refer teens to the initiative for individual counseling.
BRAVE is a coalition of law enforcement agencies, researchers and social workers engaged with youths in Baton Rouge, trying to convince them to leave gangs behind and linking them to social services to help achieve that objective.
One way BRAVE accomplishes its goal is through hosting bi-annual call-ins.
During the call-ins, officials bring in about 20 to 30 juveniles with known gang affiliations, give them a come-to-Jesus speech and offer them the choice of continuing down the dangerous path they are on and facing the consequences if they continue to commit crimes or taking the olive branch BRAVE officials are offering to leave the lifestyle.
Attempts to reach BRAVE Director Sgt. Herbert “Tweety” Anny for comment Wednesday on why BRAVE was involved with Williams were unsuccessful.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III and Baker Police Chief Mike Knaps both said Wednesday they could not comment on whether Williams had any gang affiliation. Moore said he could not comment on whether Williams attended one of the BRAVE call-ins.
While declining to discuss Williams’ specific case, Hunter said it is not uncommon for counselors to go into the homes of teens to learn about any environmental issues that might have contributed to their behavior. They also speak to family members and other people who have contact with the teen.
“They are actually making decisions, life-changing decisions, without really considering the consequences,” Hunter said of the teens they counsel. “They’re making decisions that are based on their own understanding, which in most cases is not adequate.”
Williams is due back in East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Court on Monday for a probable cause hearing as to why he should remain in custody pending further legal proceedings.
At the hearing, Curtis Nelson Jr., assistant district attorney and section chief for the juvenile section, said he will present what he hopes is sufficient evidence to convince the judge to keep Williams detained.
Nelson said he will make the case that Williams should be held on counts of first-degree murder and denied bond.