LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - With officials saying they are seeing an increase in the number of drive-by shootings in the city, one council member who hopes showing the penalties one could face might deter the crime.
“We have come to the point that something needs to be said and done," Lake Charles City Council member for District C Rodney Geyen said. "Otherwise, the shooting activity will continue”
The Lake Charles Police Department has responded to 76 shooting-related calls this year, including one Friday afternoon.
“With the number that we’ve had, especially in my district, I decided I was going to ask the questions of what we can do to deter these shootings,” Geyen said.
At Wednesday night’s City Council meeting, District C Councilman Rodney Geyen introduced a resolution urging the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney to consider an increase in the penalty and to establish a monetary fine for those convicted of a drive-by shooting violation in order to deter this type of activity. He says he has received several phone calls from concerned residents in his district.
While any changes in charges would be up to the state, Geyen says the resolution was more for the benefit of outlining the charges one can face...and DA John DeRosier says when someone is arrested for a drive-by shooting, charges that can be brought up against them can vary.
“They could be as light as the illegal discharge of a firearm," DeRosier said. "That carries an up to a two-year penalty and a $1,000 fine. If we wanted to charge under the more serious portion of that statute, if someone is charged with discharging a firearm from a vehicle, then they can face penalties up to 5 to 10 years in prison. If they discharge a firearm from a vehicle with the intent to harass, intimidate, or frighten someone to get that person to either commit a crime or it’s involved in a drug transaction, then that penalty goes up to 20 years in prison maximum. So the penalties get stiffer the more intense the infraction is. For example, if a drive-by shooting takes place where an individual is the target, that could carry a penalty of up to 10 to 20 years. If the weapon used, for example, is an automatic weapon or a weapon with a silencer, that penalty can be from 20 to 30 years. If a person is convicted twice, or the second time, for discharging a firearm from a vehicle that is either an automatic weapon or a weapon with a silencer that carries life in prison under Louisiana law. So these things can get aggravated and real serious for the offender really quickly.”
DeRosier says they can even charge up to attempted murder, which carries 10 to 50 years.
Geyen believes showing the penalties one could face potentially deters the crime.
“That’s the main thing," Geyen said. "We have to get people off the streets who have that kind of attitude to hurt people in our community.”
Both encourage anyone with information on any drive-by shootings in Lake Charles to contact the Lake Charles Police Department at 491-1311 or Crime Stoppers at 439-2222. With Crime Stoppers you can remain anonymous.