Mayor continues to console residents, bring normal back to St. Joseph

Published 6:51am Saturday, August 17, 2013

St.. Joseph, La. — When the streets of St. Joseph finally cleared, Mayor Edward Brown knew it was time to start returning to how things were before.

For nearly 24 hours, law enforcement officials, media outlets and spectators gathered in the small town to watch tragedy unfold when a 20-year old resident entered a local bank and took three bank employees hostage.

“We were thrust from the smallest parish seat in Louisiana and put on top of the world for everyone to see,” Brown said. “I want to make sure we do the best we can to have a good transition back to normalcy.
“There has to be some justice, but we have to remain humble and move on because the world is still watching.”

Armed with a .380 semi-automatic handgun and an assault rifle, Fuaed Abdo Ahmed kept the three hostages in a small workroom where the bank vault is, said Tensas Parish Sheriff Rickey Jones.

Ahmed eventually released one hostage, Patricia White, after police began negotiations.

Ahmed shot LaDean McDaniel and Jay Warbington with a handgun when police stormed the Tensas State Bank. Ahmed was shot and killed by police.

Warbington died inside the bank. McDaniel died Thursday morning at Rapides Regional Medical Center in Alexandria.

About an hour before the standoff, Brown said he exchanged pleasantries with Ahmed at a convenience store owned by the gunman’s family.

Brown said he didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary at the time, but wishes he would have in hindsight.

“If I thought he was going to do something like that, I would have intervened, but I did not recognize anything different,” Brown said. “I feel personally that I could have done something, but in actuality, standing back and looking at it, there’s nothing I could have done.”

Brown has been mayor of St. Joseph for 13 years and said no amount of preparation would have allowed him or any of the town’s residents to handle that type of situation.

“Things just happen so quickly,” he said. “As mayor, I realize I’m still in this position where I have to be responsible to a certain extent for the lives of the people.”

Brown said the only residents he hasn’t directly spoken to are those of the victims, but he hopes to change that soon.

“They’ve suffered a tragic loss of life,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to visit with some of the family members during their services, which I plan on attending.”

As the healing process continues, Brown said he will remain dedicated to providing residents with a sound peace of mind.

“I want my citizens to do all they can to enjoy life and realize that life is so short and precious,” Brown said Friday. “It’s going to be difficult for most people because we are such a small community, but what I’m trying to tell them, first of all, is that it’s going to take time to heal the wounds of what’s happened here.”