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Year in Review: Shootings continue to plague GSU

One gunman sentenced to life
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
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Leader file photo Louisiana State Police Troop G Captain Cordell Williams addresses the press and fields questions during a press conference at Grambling State University on the afternoon following two shootings that occurred at GSU during the university’s homecoming festivities.

Gunfire in two unrelated incidents during homecoming week on the Grambling State University campus killed two people and wounded at least eight others in 2021.

In between the two on-campus episodes, a third person died and another was wounded in an off-campus shooting over a parking place for a homecoming afterparty.

And four years to the day since two men were murdered during homecoming week 2017, Jaylin Wayne, the accused shooter, went on the trial for the killings. Wayne, a former GSU student from St. Louis, was convicted of two counts of seconddegree murder. He’s serving back-to-back life sentences in Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.

Since 2017, four people have been slain on the campus and at least 12 others injured.

This year’s shootings occurred despite what GSU President Rick Gallot said was a large contingency of law enforcement officers from throughout North Louisiana that had been on campus throughout homecoming week.

The first incident happened shortly after 1 a.m. on Oct. 13 during a gathering not sanctioned by the school in an area in front of the Favrot Student Union known as “The Yard.”

GSU described the incident as “a shots fired incident that occurred between two non-GSU students.” Damarious Murphy, 19, of Rayville, was killed. A 16-year-old from Rayville was also hit by gunfire and taken to the hospital.

State police are still looking for Jatavious “Rabbit” Carroll, 18, of Delhi, the suspected gunman. Carroll is wanted for second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, and possession of a firearm or weapon on school property.

Four days later, another early morning shooting spree left Marcus Snyder, 28, of Loriman, Mississippi, dead and seven other people wounded. Snyder was not a GSU student.

The Sunday morning shootings occurred around 1:15 in the open quad area of the campus that extends across the street from the school’s T.H. Harris Auditorium.

Two suspects — Ahmah Green, 20, of Shreveport and Zyheim Tyqwon Butcher, 19, of Bastrop — are in custody. Each is charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder

Green was arrested in November; Butcher, in early December.

So far, investigators have not disclosed a motive in either incident.

Uncollaborated social media video from the second shooting seems show a large crowd gathered in the quad, with two groups of females beginning to fight. Then as many as 14 shots can be heard, some in rapid-fire succession.

First responders set up landing zones for medical evacuation helicopters at Ruston Junior High School and at Northern Louisiana Medical Center. At least two of the victims were airlifted to larger area hospitals.

At one point, all five of the Ruston Ambulance Service units were in Grambling, along with the Ruston Fire Department command vehicle and 16 city firefighters who are also paramedics and EMTs.

Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Matt Henderson said the scene was the worse he had ever witnessed locally.

When the semester ended in mid-December, the GSU campus remained under a 9:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.

In the wake of the incidents, GSU has attempted to tighten on-campus security, and has won approval from the University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors to add an $18 million security fencing project to its five-year capital outlay plan.

The project, which reportedly would cordon off access points to the campus, has been in the works development for more than a year.

Parking fee fatality

Meantime, only hours before the second shooting, LPSO deputies responded to a fatal shooting at Peachland Mobile Home Park, about 3 miles east of the campus and across the street from the site of a homecoming football game after party.

Zelanz Richard French, 23, of Shreveport, died and D’Nique Walker, 22, also of Shreveport, was injured as a result of an argument over a $5 parking fee. Both of the victims had come to Lincoln Parish to attend GSU’s homecoming.

LPSO deputies subsequently arrested Dasmey Hart, 17, of Ruston, in connection with the shooting. In November, a 3 rd Judicial District grand jury indicted Hart on for the second-degree murder of French and attempted second-degree murder of Walker.

The mobile home park incident had no direct relationship to the two on-campus incidents, investigators said.

2017 shooter goes to trial

As the GSU campus was still reeling from the 2021 shootings, Jaylin Wayne went on trial for killing Earl Andrews and Monquiarious Caldwell in 2017. Wayne’s trial in 3 rd Judicial Court began on the fourth anniversary of Andrews’ and Caldwell’s deaths.

Wayne’s second-degree murder trial had been delayed partially because of procedural moves and partially because of a jury trial moratorium during earlier phases of COVID-19.

Wayne’s lead attorney, Ron Haley of Baton Rouge, tried twice to get a change of venue. But District Judge Bruce Hampton denied both motions.

Wayne admitted killing Andrews and Caldwell in an altercation outside a dormitory, but claimed he acted in self-defense. Like Wayne, Andrews was a GSU student; Caldwell was not. Both victims were from Farmerville.

Wayne did not testify nor did the defense call any witnesses.

Prosecutors said Wayne shot Andrews and Caldwell over comments Andrews made to Wayne’s girlfriend that she interpreted as offensive to both her and Wayne. Both men were shot in the chest a point-blank range with a .45-caliber handgun.

The nine-man, threewoman jury deliberated for about an hour and 20 minutes before returning the unanimous verdict on both counts. By law, the verdicts had to be unanimous for a conviction on seconddegree murder.

Second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence. The only question remaining at the end of the trial was whether Hampton would sentence Wayne to consecutive terms or concurrent ones.

During Wayne’s sentencing in December, Hampton said he opted for consecutive terms because concurrent ones “really wouldn’t take into account that two lives were lost.”

Attorney, juror dilemmas

Two days into the trial and before the jury had been selected, the proceedings came to an abrupt halt when prosecutors learned Wayne’s co-counsel Dedrick Moore was out of compliance with a Louisiana Bar Association rule dealing with trust accounts.

That made him ineligible to practice. But on the afternoon of the discovery, Moore settled his account. The trial hit another bump on the last day of testimony when Hampton questioned a juror who appeared to have slept through part of the previous testimony over the course of several days.

“It’s a serious question,” Hampton said.

The juror acknowledged dozing off and blamed it on a migraine headache.

Haley objected when the prosecution asked that Black juror be dismissed. Haley said he was concerned that replacing the juror with an alternate would jeopardize Wayne’s right to a trial by his peers.

All of the three alternates were white. Wayne is Black. The juror in question was one of two Black jurors on the panel.

“The state and Mr. Wayne both have a right to have somebody who can stay awake and focus on the entire time,” Hampton told the juror.

He did not dismiss the juror but warned him if he dozed again — which he did not — “it’s going to come up again.”

Then, within hours after Hampton sentenced Wayne, came word the Louisiana Supreme Court had suspended Haley from practicing for six months for violating rules of professional conduct.

The infractions did not involve Wayne’s case. Supreme Court personnel were trying to get in touch with Haley literally at the same he was representing Wayne during the sentencing.

Though Haley knew the suspension was coming, he apparently thought it wasn’t going to happen until the day after Wayne’s sentencing.

Prosecutors said they didn’t think the suspension would have any affect the sentencing because Haley was still shown as in good standing with the Louisiana Bar Association at the time Wayne’s sentence was handed down.