I don’t know if the Creekside subdivision in Ponchatoula, Louisiana has a formal neighborhood watch program, but the residents there are definitely looking out for each other and have each others’ backs when needed.
As the sheriff’s office in Tangipahoa Parish recently detailed, multiple armed citizens came together to help bust a burglary ring that had been operating in the neighborhood last weekend. As a result two people are in custody, and the stolen property was returned to the rightful owners instead of being sold out of the back of a moving truck.
It all started when one homeowner in the Louisiana town discovered a stranger stealing items from his home last Saturday and tried to restrain him. He called out for help, and a neighbor came running to the rescue with his gun in hand.
The sheriff’s office said a second homeowner, whose home had allegedly been burglarized by Lafleur minutes earlier, came to his neighbor’s aid. Lafleur managed to escape them and get into a truck, but one of the homeowners “discharged a firearm into the tires of Lafleur’s vehicle, rendering it disabled,” the sheriff’s office said.
Lafleur still managed to escape on foot, and minutes later another neighbor on nearby Weinberger Road heard a home security alarm going off inside a home behind his property. After being told by neighbors of the burglary suspect loose in the area, this homeowner walked his property and found inside a truck he owned Lafleur asleep.
This homeowner held Lafleur at gunpoint until deputies arrived, the agency said. Deputies said they later determined the alarm the man heard was triggered when Lafleur attempted to break into that nearby house to hide out.
Something tells me that Lafleur wasn’t really napping, though he may have been playing possum.
After Lafluer was taken into custody, deputies learned that a couple of other folks were at a nearby smokeshop selling random items out of the back of a U-Haul truck. By the time they got to the location, one of the two individuals had already taken off, but 37-year-old Amber Skelton was still at the scene and was soon in cuffs as well. At last report 29-year-old Branson Monistere was still on the loose and wanted for a litany of criminal offenses, multiple counts of residential burglary along with vehicle burglary, illegal possession of stolen things, and failure to appear in court.
Skelton and Lafleur are facing similar charges, minus the failure to appear in court. Lafluer was also charged with simple criminal damage to property, which, depending on the amount of damage done could lead to anywhere between six months in jail to ten years at hard labor.
Like most defensive gun uses in the U.S., the armed citizens who helped bust the burglary ring didn’t have to pull the trigger to put a stop to the criminal activity. The fact that they were armed was enough to stop the crime spree from continuing, and when Lafleur was spotted by the second homeowner he chose to quietly comply with the demands to stay put rather than take off running or try to attack the armed homeowner.
On Facebook, Sheriff Daniel Edwards (no relation, by the way) thanked the victims and witnesses who helped assist with the investigation and arrests, and several Ponchatoula residents described their own encounters with the suspects. One man alleged that Lafleur had tried to break into his truck just a couple of days before he was arrested but was “met with my gun against his head”, though he didn’t say if Lafleur had been arrested at that time. Other residents informed the sheriff that Monistere was posting items for sale on his Facebook page after his alleged accomplices had been taken into custody, including several generators.
Lafleur and Monistere also had at least one defender in the comment section, who claimed that the pair are “great people”, at least when they’re sober.
“Clearly this is the result of addiction. I don’t think they just woke up sober and thought “hey let’s rob somebody” I’m wasting my time typing this because I know a million people are gonna come at me sideways. But before you sit here and put down on these people, justice has been served, they’re getting consequences. Regardless of the crime they are humans- somebody’s son, somebody’s dad, etc. Nobody was hurt, killed, no child was harmed….”
Addiction can make people do terrible things, but it doesn’t absolve them of those actions. Honestly, if there are addiction issues here, time behind bars might be the best thing for the defendants. As for justice being served, I’m gonna reserve judgment on that until we see what kind of consequences are handed down if there’s a guilty plea or conviction. At the very least, the Ponchatoula homeowners who were victimized by this burglary ring got their property back, thanks in large part to neighbors looking out for one another… and who were prepared to defend themselves and others if need be.