July 2, 2007
Reported by: Britney Glaser
A hostage situation in a Beaumont Courthouse Monday morning ended peacefully after a federal inmate - appearing to have a gun - surrendered to authorities.
Around 8:30 Monday morning, employees of the Jefferson County Courthouse were reporting back to work from the weekend. But, it didn't take long to realize that this would be no ordinary Monday. Jefferson County Assistant District Attorney, Ramon Rodriguez, says, "Once I drove up to the courthouse, I saw the perimeter being secured by S.W.A.T. personnel."
Cecilia Mott was dropping off some papers at the courthouse when the frenzy started inside the building. "We were told, 'everyone leave the building,'" says Mott, "police started running all over the place inside...someone has a hostage and they're on an elevator with a gun."
Inside the courthouse, 44-year-old Andre Leffebre, an inmate at the courthouse jail, took at least one corrections officer and an unknown number of fellow inmates hostage during his recreation time. Jefferson County Sheriff Mitch Woods, says, "Each of the inmates gets a certain amount of time for recreational purposes in the day room area on the fourth floor, and that's when he produced the weapon."
Minutes after Leffebre produced the weapon, tactical teams and negotiators were in place - leading Leffebre to release the hostages unharmed. Woods says the entire incident took place within the confines of the jail, and that no bystander or employee of the actual courthouse was at risk. "The perimeter was always secure," says Leffebre, "and it was just moments until the inmate ended up surrendering himself to the S.W.A.T. Team."
Once Leffebre surrendered to authorities, they determined that he never actually carried a dangerous weapon, and that he was only using a hand-made paper gun.
Woods says that the hand-made paper gun did actually look realistic. AA-batteries were used to give it weight, and the paper was colored black to closely resemble a small hand-gun.