Standoff lasts nine hours

Published 12:05 am Thursday, August 25, 2011

Taylor Aswell | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Law enforcement used a robot Wednesday morning to transport a cell phone inside the Concordia Park Drive house they believed contained an armed Jimmy Williams.

VIDALIA — A Concordia Parish man at the center of a nine-hour police standoff is in custody, seven hours after officers found no trace of him at a Concordia Park Drive residence where he was believed to be housed with weapons.

Jimmy Williams, 90, turned himself in to the CPSO at approximately 5:15 p.m. Wednesday

According to a press release from the Louisiana State Police, at approximately 1:30 a.m. Wednesday the CPSO received a 911 call from Elizabeth Bright, 49, who was screaming.

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Concordia Parish Sheriff Randy Maxwell, right, and David Hedrick, CPSO captain of investigations walk down Concordia Park Drive.

Email newsletter signup

A deputy was dispatched to 227 Concordia Park Drive, and upon arrival he attempted to enter the residence.

The deputy was immediately fired upon by Bright, state police said. While he was taking fire, the deputy also noticed an older man who appeared to be armed with a shotgun.

The man was later identified as Williams.

After Bright’s shots, the deputy fired his weapon back at her, striking her in the chest.

The deputy and a Vidalia Police Department Officer then retreated to await backup and the arrival of a Special Response Team.

Once the SRT arrived and the scene was secure, Bright was ordered to discard her weapon. She did so as instructed, and the SRT proceeded to enter the residence and remove her for medical attention.

She was transported to Riverland Medical Center in Ferriday, and later to Rapides Regional Medical Center where she was listed in critical condition Wednesday evening.

CPSO Sheriff Randy Maxwell said the SRT’s quick action in removing Bright from the scene helped save her life.

“If we wouldn’t have tried to get her out right after it happened, she could have stayed there for 10 or 12 hours,” he said. “She would have bled to death.”

After removing Bright from the scene, the area around the house was closed off, because the exact location of Williams was unknown.

Maxwell said no one entered the house, and a perimeter was set up to make sure Williams would not get out.

“We have to play everything like he is still there, even though we knew he may not have been,” he said. “In our minds, the last time we saw him he was in the hall with a shotgun, so we treated it like he was still there.”

Officers surrounded the house, and residents from the Concordia Park area gathered to watch the standoff outside the residence which lasted until nearly 11 a.m.

Ben Hillyer | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT The SWAT team from the Louisiana State Police drives down Concordia Park Drive Tuesday.

Just before 11 a.m., authorities used a robot to transport a phone inside the house, Maxwell said, hoping Williams would talk if he was inside.

Maxwell said officers also brought family members and friends of Williams to the scene to talk with him if needed.

Williams’ neice, Willie Henderson, said she was brought in at 8 a.m. to try and communicate with her uncle.

“I really didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “They just brought me out here to talk to (Williams), but he never responded.”

Once the robot was deployed inside the house, Maxwell said it found no trace of anyone inside the home.

“The robot still can’t really look closely,” he said. “It can’t really look in closets and other things like that.”

Maxwell said the SRT team was called in to check the house for Williams, and no one was found.

Maxwell said he believes Williams escaped the house during a 10 to 15 minute window after the deputy shot Bright.

“At that point, we still didn’t have enough people in the area to secure the whole house,” he said. “He just took off out the back door.”

Maxwell said, despite rumors on the street, at no point did any law enforcement agency believe Williams had a hostage.

“Other than (Bright) and (Williams), we knew there wasn’t anyone else involved,” he said. “We thought there could have been after the (911) call, but once we got (Bright) out, we knew we were clear.”

Maxwell said Williams has a lengthy criminal history full of violence.

Many Concordia Park residents, including Eric Whitley, said even though Williams was 90, he acted a lot younger.

“I saw him jump out of his truck just this week,” he said. “He is in very good shape.”

Whitley also said Williams has been known to have a history of violence in the area.

“I do know he has a lot of guns, and he doesn’t like people to mess with him,” he said.

Maxwell said the lengthy standoff was just a part of SRT procedure.

“We try to move as cautious and as slow as we can, because our major concern is safety for our officers and for the suspects,” he said. “We are never in a hurry, we take as long as necessary and entry is always the last thing on our minds.”

Maxwell said he was glad no officers were harmed in the shooting, and that he was thankful for the help from all law enforcement agencies and the community.

“We had people coming out giving us water and doughnuts,” he said. “It means so much to us to have people coming out showing support instead of making the situation worse.”

The sheriff said the LSP is handling the investigation, and that Williams and Bright will both be facing charges.