Sheriff Will Hold News Conference about Mayor-Elect's Death

Mayor-Elect Gerald Washington
Mayor-Elect Gerald Washington

December 30, 2006
Reported By: Rhonda Kitchens & Lee Peck

New details about the shooting death of Westlake Mayor-elect Gerald "Wash" Washington are expected to be released Tuesday afternoon.  The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office is holding a news conference at 1:30 PM Tuesday, where new details from the on going investigation will be announced.  For the time being, local authorities have only released the basic facts about the shooting.  Authorities also say that they are investigating the case as a homicide.

Just days before he was to take office, the body of Westlake Mayor-Elect Gerald Washington was found outside the old Mossville Elementary School on Old Spanish trail. According to authorities with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office, the 9-1-1 call came in at 9:49 p.m. from a motorist passing the school, who said they saw a body on the ground in the parking lot.

"Our patrol shift was dispatched and upon arrival they found a black male laying in the parking lot with a single gunshot wound," said Calcasieu Sheriff Chief Deputy Gary "Stitch" Guillory.

Guillory said crime scene investigators identified the body as Westlake Mayor-Elect Gerald Washington. Guillory said investigators also recovered a weapon at the scene near Washington's truck.

"It's going to be investigated. They are back there working as we speak and no matter how long it takes, we will work until we find out what happened," said Guillory.

The Calcasieu Coroner's Office tells 7 News 57-year-old Washington died of a single gunshot to the chest. His death, which remains under investigation, comes as shocking news to Guillory, who had spoken to his long-time friend just days before. Guillory recalled, "When I talked to him, he appeared to be in good spirits and it's just totally shocking to me."

Washington also seemed in good spirits when I talked to him the day after his election victory. "They have elected the right mayor and the right council for one city one team," said Washington.

That team of city council members past and present were called to the scene. Visibly shocked, they're now mourning the death of the man they affectionately called "Wash." "I'm telling you "Wash" was just a great man. I mean it's just hard to even think of "Wash" in the past tense because he was such a close friend. We were elected to the city council the same year and this is just a tragedy," said former Westlake City Councilman Hal McMillin.

"We're missing a good friend and hopefully we'll get through it," said Westlake Councilman Bob Hardey.

"It's just really hard to believe, just a tremendous shock. We were looking forward to the next four years. I think we all had a good chemistry, between the new council and mayor," said Westlake City Councilman Dan Cupit.

Washington was sworn in December 19th as Westlake's first new mayor in 24 years.  He would have taken office Tuesday January 2nd replacing retiring Mayor Dudley Dixon. Ironically, the Westlake City Council has called a special meeting that same day to address Washington's passing.

The special meeting will be held at 5:30 Tuesday in the Westlake City Hall Council Chambers located at 1001 Mulberry Street, Westlake, Louisiana.

The items to be taken up are as follows:

A. Need a motion and a second to approve and/or disapprove appointing a Mayor Pro-Tempore.

B. Need a motion and a second to approve and/or disapprove Resolution No. 2720.

-- A resolution authorizing the Mayor, Mayor Pro-Tempore, city clerk and city accountant of the city of Westlake, Louisiana, to execute any and all transactions of funds in the name of the city of Westlake, Louisiana upon all banking and investment accounts.

C. Need a motion and a second to approve and/or disapprove Resolution No. 2721.

-- A resolution declaring a vacancy in the position of mayor for the city of Westlake, state of Louisiana and calling for the appointment of a person to fill the vacancy and call for a special election.