WESTLAKE, LA (KPLC) - For the city of Westlake the new year isn't looking so bright. It's just over a week into 2018 and police are investigating a homicide.
Police Chief Chris Wilrye says this is the first homicide the city's had in decades. He says despite what happened Wednesday, Westlake is a safe community, and he is doing everything he can to make sure it stays that way.
Inside the Peddler's Market Place in Westlake, you'll find manager Judy Waid straightening things up.
But her customers have been talking.
"Everyone comes through the door and they want to know what we know, and they want to tell what they know," said Waid.
They're talking about the fatal shooting that happened just behind the store Wednesday night.
"The little boy that got killed had come in that day, looked around and then left," said Waid.
Waid never imagined 20-year-old Jalen Handy would have been shot and killed after he left that day.
Westlake Police arrested 22-year-old Derrick Ryan Small, and charged him with second-degree murder, along with gun and drug-related charges.
"No chief or sheriff wants to deal with this, at all," said Wilrye. "Especially in such a small-knit community as Westlake."
Chief Wilrye says this homicide was eye opening, and he plans to step up patrols throughout the city.
"We're looking at different ways to position our guys in different areas throughout the day, just to have more visibility out there to the public," he said.
With more people coming to the area, Wilrye is seeing more drugs in the city.
"We're seeing a lot more of the marijuana," he said. "We're seeing the pills starting to increase, and also meth."
He reassures Westlake is still a safe community, something Waid agrees with, but her heart hurts for the life that was lost Wednesday.
"The young man was young, and it seems like such a needless thing that happened," said Waid.
Waid says the Peddler's Market Place would like to help out with any funeral expenses for the Handy family if they need it.
Wilrye asks anyone who may have information about this case to reach out to the Westlake Police Department at 337-433-4151.