My first homicide call: Copyright 1-4992347791
In the summer of ’75, I was assigned to ride with my field training officer. Our beat was the blue collar neighborhood of Cedar Grove. I can close my eyes and see it like yesterday. After my brother, sister and I were released from the foster home in Hall Summit, LA., we settled on E. 72nd Street in the heart of Cedar Grove. I do not remember how I met Dennis James Weed, called D.J. by friends and family, nor his younger brother Douglas (Froggy). It probably was at Corner Drug Store or Cedar Grove city park. Nonetheless, we became close friends. We rode our bikes all over town. We once rode all the way out Ellerbee Road to Wallace Lake Dam to swim in the dangerous currents. The old saying “God watches over fools and drunks” definitely applied to us. Many times our Lord saved us on our stupid adventures. We really were not bad boys. We were typical in many ways. We were interested in girls but lacked the knowledge of how to connect with them. We were shy and immature. We flirted with two beautiful twins, Bonnie and Connie Whyte. My first love was Connie. She was a sweet, young lady. Though I never kissed her, I had deep feelings for her. Often D.J., Froggy and I would be at the Whyte house on Willard Street . We spent hours playing, flirting and eating Mrs. Edna, their lovely mother, out of house and home. We were all skinny and underfed because we would rather ride our bikes than sit down and eat a meal at home.
D.J.’s family, like mine, was dirt poor. He lived in a big wood frame rent house on W. 70th. The house was torn down years ago. Every time I travel this street today, I can still imagine D.J. and Froggy sitting on the edge of the old wooden front porch. D.J.’s daddy, Jimmy, was a good looking man. He looked like a body builder. He was blonde with giant muscles and a quick smile. As a roofer, he stayed in perfect shape. He was kind to me and Mike Dean, another childhood friend. All summer long our little gang was together cruising the streets of Shreveport on our bikes. We rarely had enough money to go to the Cedar Grove swimming pool so we discovered free places to go swimming. A few miles north of Cedar Grove is an old apartment complex in the South Highlands neighborhood off Southern Avenue.
Many a day our little clan embarked on a swimming journey. We went to this apartment complex on our bikes. We were all barefoot wearing cut-off jeans and white T-shirts. We parked out bikes and dove into the cool water. We were a little rambunctious at times, well to be honest, all the time. When the women of the complex came to the pool to sunbath or swim, we targeted them. When they placed their big beach towels on the pool deck near the water, we did a cannon ball next to them. They would be soaked and pissed. They would find the old complex maintenance man to sic on us. He knew us well. He ran us out of his pool on a daily basis. We left before he called the cops and went to the next complex pool on Fairfield and Dudley. Soon we were ordered to leave there also. We moved on to our next target. Each day we made rounds like this. It seemed we were always one step ahead of the cops.
The Shreveport cops knew us well. Not as criminals but as problems. Many times they encountered us riding in the streets and dodging cars. It was odd how we were treated. One officer would roll up on us and yell for us to get our butts out of the street and on the sidewalk. We did as we were told. Soon another cop would see us on the sidewalk and make us ride in the street. D.J. and I played little league baseball in Cedar Grove for none other than the F.O.P. (Fraternal Order of Police). Our two coaches were cops, Melvin Ogburn and Jimmy McEachern. At the time I had no idea the impact they had on my future. When I was overseas in the Marines, a buddy asked what I planned to do when discharged. The words that came out of my mouth surprised me. I was going to become a cop in Shreveport. Somewhere in my subconscious mind I had decided my career path. Melvin and Jimmy had planted the seeds for me to be a cop. They were great men, father figures for me when I was a boy.
My partner and I had just sat down to dinner at the Bonanza Steak House on W. 70th. Headquarters gave us a shooting call on E. 70th at a beer joint 10 blocks away. We left our food on the table and rushed to our unit. D.E. Stevens fired up the big 454 cubic inch Chevy Impala and off we squealed into the street, red lights flashing and siren wailing. Moments later we skidded to a stop directly in front of the bar on E. 70th. We went inside and found the gunshot victim lying on the floor in a large pool of blood. He had been shot in the forehead by the female owner of the bar, his girlfriend. D.E. knew the victim quite well. His name was Jimmy Weed, my best friend’s father. I was dazed as my childhood with D.J. and Froggy came rushing back. D.E. asked if I was okay. He noticed a worried expression on my face.
I told him I knew Jimmy well and was raised with his son. D.E. had known him for years. He and his girlfriend often fought. Jimmy beat her when he was drunk. When I was away in the Marines, Jimmy divorced D.J.’s mother, Gertrude “Gertie”. The girlfriend was questioned by D.E. She said Jimmy called to tell her he was coming to her bar to whip her ass again. When he walked in, he was already drunk. He ordered a beer. As he took a sip, he told her she had another ass whipping coming. She reached beneath the counter, grabbed her 38 caliber pistol and shot him. Jimmy was taking another sip when she pulled the trigger. The bullet went through the bottom of the can and struck him in the center of his forehead. When he hit the floor, he was already dead. We waited for detectives and the parish Coroner to respond. I took a position at the front door to not allow anyone to leave or enter. Several witnesses were in the bar. They stated Jimmy threatened the lady before she shot him.
As I stood in the doorway, I noticed a large crowd gathering in front of the T.G. & Y. store across the street. I was sad as I continued to think of D.J. and Froggy. How would they take the tragic news of Jimmy’s death? As I glanced at the crowd, I saw a pretty, young, blonde girl about the age of 16. Her name was Denise, Dee Dee Weed, D.J. and Froggy’s little sister. She recognized me and crossed the street. She had not seen me in six years. She smiled and hugged my neck. My stomach was tied in a sick knot as I hugged her. She could not see in the bar where her father laid dead on the floor. I asked her to go back across the street. She did with a puzzled expression on her face. She knew something was not right. She joined the crowd of onlookers as the ambulance arrived.
The grapevine worked well in Cedar Grove that evening. Word of Jimmy Weed’s death made its way to Dee Dee. I saw someone take her hand and tell her the news about her father. I still see her pretty face as she frowned and began to cry. It broke my heart then and this wound will never heal. Writing this story today brings tears to my eyes.
I did not know being a cop would hurt this way.
The girlfriend was taken to the detectives’ office and questioned. She was later released. The case went to the D.A.’s office for review. Detectives recommended she not be arrested. The D.A. concurred.
Click on photos below for captions.