Club shooting suspects arrested in New Orleans

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, March 29, 2011

NATCHEZ — Two suspects were arrested March 24 in New Orleans on charges of aggravated assault in connection to the Feb. 27 shooting that occurred at Club Paradise in Natchez.

Walter J. Washington, 25, of 220 Oakland Drive, Natchez was arrested on two counts of aggravated assault. Delnora L. Cook, 23, of 314 Oakland Drive, Natchez, was arrested and charged with accessory after the fact.

Natchez resident Calvin Matthews, 26, was shot four times at the nightclub and taken to the Natchez Regional Medical Center in critical condition. He was released on March 7.

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Natchez Police Chief Mike Mullins said the incident stemmed from a prior dispute.

One bullet grazed the ankle of a female victim at the scene, who was treated at the hospital and released that day.

The men were apprehended in New Orleans after Natchez Police Department investigator Jerry Ford made contact with the Louisiana State Attorney General’s office.

“Through some leads, they were able to run down numbers that provided addresses where suspects may be,” Ford said.

A joint task force of the Louisiana State Police and the FBI apprehended the suspects.

Ford traveled to the Orleans Parish Prison after the suspects signed a waiver to be extradited.

“They were placed in custody and transported back to Natchez,” Ford said.

Washington and Cook are currently in jail at the Natchez Police Department.

“(Suspects) don’t realize we have a good working relationship with other agencies,” said NPD Lt. Craig Godbold. “Other agencies hunt people down on our warrants and hold them in custody until we pick them up. They count on getting away from Natchez because it’s a small town, and they run after committing a crime here to cities like Jackson, Dallas and New Orleans.”

Godbold said like other law enforcement agencies, the Natchez Police Department is glad to seek fugitives hiding out in Natchez on warrants outside local jurisdiction.

“It goes both ways,” Godbold said. “We are more than happy to pick (suspects) up and get them out of our town.”

Godbold said that having close contacts at other agencies allows them to cut through the red tape.

“All law enforcement works together,” Godbold said. “We have to. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call or two to get the job done.”

Mullins said collaboration with other agencies doesn’t only help find criminal suspects, but runaways, disappearances and stolen items as well.

“Other agencies also help with locating evidence in other jurisdictions, like a weapon or a vehicle,” Mullins said.

Godbold said the apprehension of Washington and Cook in New Orleans is just one example of the success agencies achieve when working together.

“We do this every day,” Godbold said. “Whether we are working with the local county sheriff or (an agency) several states away.”

Mullins said in addition to collaboration with state and federal law enforcement agencies, the NPD also works with the United States Marshal Service, gaming commission, border agents and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Mullins said the NPD is a member of the Regional Organized Crime Information Center, an organization composed of criminal justice agencies in the southeastern and southwestern United States working together to combat multi-jurisdictional criminal activities.

“We can send them information on criminal activity that might go into other jurisdictions,” Mullins said. “They publish information about cases. Since we are members, we can also borrow high-tech equipment that is very expensive that we might use only once a year.”