Sheriff: Four arrested at game have violent gang ties

Published 3:58 pm Thursday, February 17, 2022

The four juveniles arrested for fighting after a DeRidder-Leesville basketball game Friday night have been identified as associates of a violent gang known locally as “LTF,” according to authorities.

Beauregard Parish Sheriff Mark Herford said the gang has been responsible for two shootings in DeRidder in recent months, and authorities have also been made aware of recent threats toward law enforcement on social media.

In a joint release from the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office and the DeRidder Police Department on Monday, authorities said Friday night’s incident began after authorities received information that a threat had allegedly been made against members of the Leesville basketball team.   

According to the release, two BPSO deputies and two DeRidder police officers had been assigned to the campus as security for the game. During the game, those officers received information of the threat, and that there may have been a person with a firearm at the school.

Authorities said a plan was put into place with the DeRidder High School administration to allow for the Leesville team to safely exit the school campus, and that a call was put out for additional law enforcement to assist at the school.

At about 9:15 as the game ended, authorities said a large fight broke out in a breezeway located between the gymnasium and the school’s main building that involved multiple people. Deputies and officers attempted to separate the individuals fighting and gave verbal instruction to everyone present to leave, but the crowd began to fight with the officers.

Herford said the fighting included multiple deputies being hit multiple times in the face and were kicked.

“The officers did not intend to make any arrests until those individuals began hitting the officers and deputies,” Herford said.

The fighting continued despite arrests being made, and Herford said the deputies and officers were physically surrounded and attacked, which resulted in a request for additional personnel from multiple surrounding agencies.

Videos of the incident surfaced on social media Saturday, and authorities say that the investigation into the incident remains ongoing. Herford said deputies have collected multiple videos from body cameras, cell phone videos, and social media postings.

“We are still reviewing footage and encourage anyone who has footage to bring it to the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office,” Herford said.

Herford said he and Chief Craig Richard are both interested in meeting with any parent of those involved in the incident and answer any questions.

Members of the LTF group have been linked to several acts of violence in DeRidder over the past year. In September, an alleged altercation between members of the group that occurred at a DeRidder-Leesville football game led to a shooting at a home in DeRidder. Nine individuals, including three adults, were charged in relation to the shooting.

Weeks later, a second shooting in DeRidder occurred in what authorities believe may have been a retaliation shooting. The rise in violence pushed local authorities last year to enact a curfew for juveniles, and adopt a zero tolerance policy for those found in violation of the curfew.