Deputy Sheriff Jimmy Charles Matthews

Deputy Sheriff Jimmy Charles Matthews

East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office, Louisiana

End of Watch Monday, April 26, 1982

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Jimmy Charles Matthews

Deputy Sheriff Jimmy Matthews was shot and killed when he and two other deputies responded to a suspicious person call involving a man with previous mental illness.

Deputy Matthews attempted to look through a window after responding officers received no answer at the door. The man immediately opened fire, striking Deputy Matthews in the face. The subject was later shot and killed when officers attempted to enter the home.

Deputy Matthews had served with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office for seven years. He was survived by his wife and two sons.


  • Age 43
  • Tour 7 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Shotgun
  • Offender Shot and killed


Most Recent Reflection

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                                                 FIVE POINTS DOWN
                                                      Scott Morales

                                            Monday, April 26, 1982 10:35 AM
Lieutenant Cosmo Martello’s breath came in quick gasps, as he tossed a furtive glance up at the floor of the camp above him. Through the openings in the boards, he could see the body of the Jim Matthews lying as still and unresponsive as he was, just before Martello had dove through the thin screen and jumped from the deck, to take refuge under the porch.
      About fifty yards in front of him, Bob Shortess hunkered down beside a tree, seeking cover. He ducked down lower, as unremitting shotgun blasts came from the camp, blowing quarter-size holes in the car’s body and taking out chunks from the tree.
      Reaching into the compartment, he stretched the cord to the radio microphone to nearly its breaking point. For the hundredth time, he wished that the department would free up the money to buy portable radios for each of the deputies; so at least, they could have a back-up form of communications, instead of just depending on the car radio. Taking refuge behind the front tire, keeping the engine block between him and the assailant, he keyed the mike.
      “Signal 63…Officer Down! Shots fired!” 
      For a long minute, the air was silent. No one answered.
      “K-15, to 654…Signal 63! Shots fired! Officer Down!!” 
      He unkeyed the microphone and awaited the voices of other units to answer up and respond.
      After another long silence, he cursed and threw the mike back into the car. Getting Martello’s attention, Shortess motioned for the Lieutenant to get ready to run. In the lull of the shooting, Shortess laid across the hood of the car, firing several rounds in cover fire at the shattered window that the shooter had fired from, pinning the man down. Hearing the shots, Martello involuntarily glanced down and there, something caught his eye. He leaned down and picked it up and saw that it was a penny lying in the dirt, face up. He dusted the penny off and looked up at the deck above him and said, “You’re not gonna get me today, you Son of a Bitch! This is my lucky day.”

                                            April 23, 1982-Friday 
Ken Martin waited on the phone line to the Coroner’s office as they put him on hold. He had been concerned about the erratic behavior his son, Kyle, had been displaying of late and wasn’t sure if he and the family could handle him anymore. Though not quite able to put his finger on it, Ken knew that his son was acting more strangely than usual. 
      Kyle had started out as a good boy. A gifted athlete, he loved all forms of sports. He attended Tara High school in Baton Rouge and excelled in football and baseball. He was a proud member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and devout in his beliefs.
      But, Kyle was also a problem child, and had been since he was at least thirteen years old. He had begun to display anti-social behavior and violent outbursts, which seemed to escalate as he grew older. Ken hoped that the problems would go away as he matured, but instead, the problems increased. Kyle had problems holding a job and maintaining a relationship with his current girlfriend.
       His emotional state was tentative at best. He had been prescribed Thorazine and Artane, but the family didn’t think that he was taking it on a regular basis, which made his unstable and unpredictable.
      This unpredictability was enough that the family had become frightened of him and unsure what he would do next. 
      The Martins had taken Kyle in for evaluation and he was determined to suffer from Paranoid Schizophrenia and was Bi-Polar. Over the years, Kyle’s condition deteriorated until it got to a point, where Ken felt that he needed to be placed in a facility which could effectively deal with his type of mental illness.
      Earlier in the year, Kyle had moved out of the Ken’s house and had taken up residence at the family’s camp, situated on the Amite River, right on Horseshoe Bend, off the Hoo Shoo Too Road. Out on his own and without supervision, Kyle’s mental state began to deteriorate further.
      So that morning, Ken made the call and voiced his concerns to the Coroner, the one office in East Baton Rouge Parish, who could issue papers committing a person for their own protection and to deal with the issues involving their mental health. While he waited for the process to progress, Kyle went about his life, disturbed as it was, oblivious to the work his family was doing to try and get him help. 
      John McBride settled into his easy chair, waiting for the Six O’ Clock news, when he saw
Kyle Martin drive his white and red Chevy Monte Carlo up the long driveway to his camp, which was situated next door to McBride’s. He was still angry with Martin. Earlier in the day, Martin had gotten into a totally unwarranted argument with his son, Gary. McBride still remembered the anger and look of pure hate that Martin had in his eyes. McBride told Gary to come inside and let the whole thing blow over. He wasn’t sure what touched off the anger in Martin, but it made him afraid enough of the man, that he just wanted to avoid him.
      As the car came to a stop, McBride saw Martin climb out of the car and look around. McBride straightened up in his chair, when he saw that Martin was carrying a shotgun. McBride’s dog was barking in the yard at Martin’s arrival. Martin looked at the dog and raised his shotgun. Before McBride could react, Martin fired a round at the dog. Howling, the dog ran back toward the house.
      Martin looked up at McBride and strode into the camp, not looking back.
      McBride rushed out and checked the dog, wrapping it in a towel. He carried it inside and made a call to the sheriff’s office.
The Monte Carlo was gone and Martin with it.

                                           Saturday, April 24, 1982 23:45 hrs
Sheriff’s Deputy Corporal Donnie Van Norman hung up the phone and made a note to pass on the speeder’s complaint on Skysail Drive. He glanced at his watch and sighed. He normally wasn’t assigned to the desk at Kleinpeter Substation, situated on the southeastern most portion of East Baton Rouge Parish. He usually was out on the street, patrolled the quadrant. But, with vacations and the shift normally being under-staffed, he had to take his turn in the barrel like everyone else, pulling desk duty for his entire Seven PM, to Seven Am shift. 
      His duties included taking phone in complaints, as well as keeping a written log of all the radio traffic for the units that worked the substation, keeping up with their locations and taking care of their requests. All of the parishes radio traffic was received by the main Communications center, call sign KKC-654, located in downtown Baton Rouge, but the substations maintained their own logs, since there were dead spots throughout the parish and the police units’ radios might reach the substation, but not the main center. The substation would then relay the deputies’ traffic to the communications, who would document the traffic.
      Van Norman looked up from the dispatch log, when he heard the door buzzer, signifying that someone had entered the front door. He glanced at the clock, noting that it was five minutes to midnight. Sitting in the office with him was his shift Lieutenant, Vince Laborde, who took notice as well.
      A young man walked up to the counter and looked around. Laborde noted that he was wearing a “Tara High School” baseball cap and physically, he was what Laborde considered, “A Sluggo.” The young man nodded at Van Norman.
      “Can I help you?” Van Norman asked.
      “Uh…yeah.” The young man began. “Have you gotten any reports of flooding down on the Amite?”
      Van Norman knew that the man was referring to the river, which formed the eastern most border of East Baton Rouge Parish, separating it from Tangipahoa Parish. Many of the residents that lived within the patrol area of Kleinpeter Substation had fishing camps situated on that river, as well as place to retreat to, to enjoy some of the recreational water sports that Louisiana was know for. Though many had the camp as an escape, there were the few who lived in the camps as their primary residence. These were what the deputies referred to as “River Rats.”
      He also thought it was an odd question, since there had not been any substantial rain in the parish in a few weeks.
      “No.” Van Norman said. “Haven’t heard anything about any flooding.” Van Norman said. “Why do you ask?”
      “I gotta a camp down on the bank and I just want to make sure it’s safe, that’s all.” The man answered.
      “I can promise ya,” Van Norman said, in his usually easy going manner, “that if there is any flooding, that the public would be given plenty of warning, and ample time to evacuate.”

      “Yeah, well…ya know, I just wanna be sure. I don’t wanna be caught under water.” The man said.
      “I don’t think that that’s gonna happen.” Van Norman said.
      During the entire exchange, Laborde had listened to the conversation and thought that the questions were odd. He rose from the back desk and approached the window.
      A career body builder, Laborde was a robust and thick framed. His khaki uniform shirt strained, which made the six-point badge riding high on his barrel chest. He presented one muscled arm and shook the man’s hand.
      “Lieutenant Laborde.” He said by way of introduction. The man returned the handshake and talked with Laborde about his concerns.
      “If you have any problems down there at your camp, you give us a call, all right?” Laborde said.
      The radio squawked for his attention and Van Norman went to the desk to answer it. He jotted down the unit’s traffic and looked up to see the man still standing there. He appeared nervous and glanced at his watch. 
      “I…I’d better go.” The man said. He turned to leave, and then hesitated. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a couple of candy bars, which he left on the counter. Van Norman stepped up to the counter and looked at the candy.
      “What’s this for?” Van Norman asked.
      “For helping me.” The man said. He turned to leave again.
      “I really can’t accept these.” Van Norman said, pushing them back to the man. “I appreciate it, Mister…Mister…?”
      “Kyle Martin.” He answered and stuck out his hand.
      “Corporal Van Norman.” He answered, shaking the proffered hand.   
      “Keep ‘em.” He said and then left out of the door.
      Van Norman watched the Martin leave and shook his head. He looked at Laborde, who resettled himself back at his desk. Van Norman picked up a trash can and slid the candy bars to the end of the counter, where they fell into the container.
                                           Sunday, April 25, 1982 22:00 hrs
Van Norman pulled out his notebook and flipped to the details he had taken down for the report that he had to write. He had been rotated off of the desk tonight and the shift, so far, had been pretty busy. Working on his fourth report since seven o’clock, Van Norman pulled out a blank report form and began to fill out the narrative details. He glanced at the clock and saw that it was just after ten.
      He had just completed the victim’s information on the report, when the phone rang. He glanced at the other deputy who had drawn desk duty, to see that he was occupied running a license plate and driver’s license check for one of the other road units. He pushed in the button and answered it.
      “Kleinpeter Substation.”
      “Is this Van Norman?” the voice on the other end asked.
      “Yes it is.”
      “This is Kyle Martin. Do you remember me? I was there last night?” Martin said anxiously. “I left you the candy bars?”
      “Yes, Mr. Martin, I remember you.” Van Norman said. “What can I do for you?”
      “I need you to come out to my camp.” Martin said.
      “What’s the problem?”
      “There’s a…disturbance.” Martin answered hesitantly. “I think there’s a fight?”
      “Who’s fighting?” Van Norman asked. “How many are there?”
      “I don’t know…it’s hard to see.” Martin said. “You just need to come out right now. There’s gonna be some problems.”
      Van Norman felt his frustrations rise. He hated when the complaintant was holding something back and refused to give all of the information that he needed to safely respond to a call. But, something else was rising as well;
      Van Norman had been a deputy long enough to know when something about a call didn’t feel right. He knew that Martin was being purposefully evasive and was baiting him. He couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was, but the feeling that he had had the night before returned: something was not quite right with Martin. Whether that was dangerous or not, he couldn’t say, but it was definitely a cause for concern.
      “What’s your address, Mister Martin?” Van Norman asked. He jotted down the information and hung up. Before he left, he called main Communications and filled them in on the reported call. He hung up and was walking to his car, when he saw Shift Lieutenant Vince Laborde pull into the substation’s parking lot. Van Norman walked over to his Supervisor’s car and leaned in.
      “Hey, Vince. I need to talk to you about this call I’m going to.” Van Norman said.
      Van Norman ran down the previous night’s meeting and the then the call he had just received. Laborde listened intently and thought for a minute.
      “To be honest, ‘Loo’, I’m pretty leery of this guy.” Van Norman said, using the abbreviated term for ‘Lieutenant,’ “I think he’s some kind of a nut.”
      Laborde agreed with the younger mans assessment and nodded.
      “Why don’t you do this…?” Laborde began, “Just check the area. Don’t let him know you’re there. Look around and if there’s nothing to it, get out of there. Do a report, though, in case he wants to say that you never showed up.”
      Van Norman nodded and climbed into his car, heading for the address on Horseshoe Bend road.
      Easing into the area, he drove slowly, trying to find the house, checked the addresses on the mail boxes and when he thought he was close enough, he cut out his headlights and turned off his engine, coasting to a stop. He got out and walked up the barbed-wire driveway, making sure to keep to one side. Once he could see the camp and the surrounding area, he stopped.
      The camp set up on fifteen foot piers, a single story ranch style. There was an open exposed stairway which led up the right-hand side of the camp, leading to a screened-in porch. A single light burning in one of the two windows, visible in the front of the camp. With the exception of a single tree, the area around the camp, within a hundred yards, was wide open and sparse with any foliage. From his vantage point, Van Norman could see the entire camp area, even as far as the river side, which he clearly visible under the camp’s piers and saw no activity or anyone around the area. He listened and the night air did not carry the usual sounds of boisterous behavior normally associated with a fight.
      Satisfied that there were no problems, Van Norman hiked back to his unit and pulled out, driving a block or two down Horseshoe Bend road, before turning back on his headlights.
                                                       Monday, April 26, 1982 03:00 am
Vince Laborde sat in the command office at Kleinpeter substation and sipped his lukewarm coffee. He checked over the nightly reports, as well as the day shift reports from the previous shift, preparing his paperwork to pass it on to the on coming shift. The stack of paperwork grew steadily higher, as he read through the documents and Okayed the arrest forms, separating them into different piles, each going to a different location. He glanced at the clock, wanting to get done since he had planned on leaving early and wouldn’t be here for the on-coming shift supervisor, to pass on anything.
      Finishing up, Laborde left the substation, just as Van Norman came in. He pointed his unit west and headed out to an area south of LSU, to patrol some of the apartments, which were having a high number of break-ins.
       He was on Gardere Lane, when he heard Van Norman come up on the radio. Van Norman informed Communications that he was heading out to the camp on Horse Shoe Bend Road. Laborde heard the radio traffic and didn’t like the idea that the deputy was going alone.
      Laborde wasn’t sure what the fixation that Martin had for Van Martin, but he wasn’t going to let anything else to fuel the fire. 
      He had made it halfway across the parish, when Van Norman came on the air and told the shift supervisor that he was having a hard time finding the place tonight. Before Laborde could answer, Communications advised him that he needed to go on a radio call, because he was the only unit in service. Laborde knew the Horse Shoe Bend area better than Van Norman and had a pretty good idea exactly where the camp was. He radioed back to Communications and told them to have Van Norman disregard the call on Horse Shoe Bend road and send him on the run he was assigned to and he, Laborde, would meet with Kyle Martin.
      “I’m sorry, ‘Loo’.” Van Norman said on an alternate channel. “I can’t find the place.”
      “Don’t worry about it, Donnie.” Laborde said. “I’ll take care of it.”
      Instead of approaching the camp the way he instructed Van Norman to, Laborde did just the opposite. He pulled onto the driveway, spinning his tires and spitting gravel. His overhead red bar lights were rotating, his headlights on bright and his spotlight shining on the camp’s windows, while he blasted the horn and siren. Stopping, he pulled the P.A. mike from its hook.
      “MISTER MARTIN, THIS IS THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE.” Laborde bellowed across the distance of the police unit to the camp a few yards away.
      After sitting with his presence known by anyone within a half a mile, he saw Martin come out of the camp and lean against the door jamb. In his hand, he held a shotgun. Laborde stepped out of his unit and addressed Martin directly.
      “Put that gun down and come talk to me!” Laborde yelled.
      “They’re trying to get me! They’re heading around back!” Kyle Martin yelled back. 
      “Put the gun down and come talk to me.” Laborde said. “You can show me where they are.”    
      After a moment, Martin left the weapon inside the door and came down the staircase to where Laborde was standing. He put out his hand toward Laborde.
      “You’re Lieutenant Laborde.” He stated.  “Where’s van Norman?” 
      Laborde returned the handshake, a bit anxious that Martin remembered his name and Van Norman’s.
      “He had another call to go to.” Laborde answered. “You all right?” 
      “I’m sorry, I haven’t slept in days.”
      “No problem, Buddy.” Laborde answered. “I’ll just have a look around.”
      Laborde checked the front yard, under and behind the camp and saw no signs that anyone or anything had been around the camp. He eyed Martin warily, suspecting that he was hallucinating, maybe off of his medication. If nothing else, Martin seemed to be a bit “kooky.”
       Maintaining his profession air, Laborde assured Martin that there wasn’t anyone around the camp.
      “I know they were here!” Martin said. “They’re trying to get me.”
      “I don’t doubt it.” Laborde said calmly. “They’re just not here now.” 
      He jotted down a few notes and encouraged him to call back anytime he had a problem.
      “I just really need some sleep.” Martin said.
      “That’s a good idea, Kyle.” Laborde said, getting into his unit. “Why don’t you try and get some rest. I know you’re tired.”

      Laborde returned to the substation and knocked out a report of the encounter with Martin. He then found the substations “Pass-on” log and made a “Heavy” paragraph, detailing the calls from Martin and recommended that the on-coming shift use caution, when dealing with him. To make sure that his remarks were passed on, he punched in the phone number to the Main Communication’s office downtown and let an equally “Heavy” message to the out going communications sergeant, to pass on to the relief shift, making them aware of the situation with Martin.
      Satisfied that he had done all he could, he left the substation and headed home for the night. But, just to be sure, he drove by Martin’s place once more, finding the camp dark and quiet.

      John McBride jerked awake, at the sound of the sirens on Laborde’s sheriff’s unit. He walked into the living room and glanced out his window, watching the two men interact in the driveway. He saw Martin coming down the stairway and meet with the deputy and after a couple of minutes of Martin pointing and gesturing, the deputy walked around Martin’s camp, shining his flashlight here and there, all around the grounds.
      After a few minutes, the deputy got back in his car and drove off; Martin began to walk toward the stairs, leading up to the camp. Martin pausing long enough to reach inside the car. McBride saw Martin his shotgun out of the front of the car and carry it back inside the camp.
      Once everything was quiet, McBride went back to bed, just to be awakened an hour and a half later, as Martin pulled out of his driveway and left, presumably, McBride thought, going to work. The idea was short-lived, when Martin returned to the camp two hours later, at around seven-thirty.

      Vince Laborde had already been asleep for two and half hours, while Donnie Van Norman was just drifting off to sleep, his shift ending a half hour before.
      Things were not going well for Martin. Not only had he not been able to go to sleep, the argument and break-up he had experienced with his fiancée, Sue, the day before was weighing heavily on his mind. 
      He made it to his job at the plant, but once he was there, he had no motivation. He sat on the elevated scaffold, amongst the paint cans and brushes, talking to himself and overall, feeling pretty down.
      The Thorazine and Artane that the doctor had prescribed made him feel “not himself” and out of sorts. He had stopped taking it, though the old feelings of inadequacy and self loathing returned. He thought about why Van Norman didn’t come out the last time he called and he came to the conclusion that, like Sue and everyone else, including his family, Van Norman he didn’t like him.
      He remembered Van Norman and his brothers. He had gone to the same high school with them, but, since Van Norman didn’t remember or recognize him, than he must had been beneath his notice. Martin felt as if they thought that they were better athletes than he was and that he was only being “tolerated.” Even though they were in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes together, Martin never felt hat he was truly accepted by them, even though he knew in his heart, that he was better than they were.
      He left high school and thought that he had left those feeling behind him, until he saw Van Norman the previous Friday night. When Martin saw him, he recognized him right away. He wasn’t going to let him know that, though. He wanted to see whether Van Norman would remember him.
      When he realized that Van Norman hadn’t recognized him, it left him unsettled. Was he that much of a nobody that he never made any kind of impression on him? Here was Donnie Van Norman, high and mighty Sheriff’s deputy, who didn’t recognize him, even though he was wearing a baseball cap, from the same team they played together on.
      Martin realized that his boss had been trying to get his attention. He glanced down from the top of the rickety scaffold and found himself perched precariously on a couple of unsteadily stacked paint cans.
      “What you doing up there, Kyle?” the boss asked.
      Martin looked at him vacantly and then ignored him, retreating back in his mind, to embrace the loneliness and anger which was percolating inside of him. He hardly took notice of the hands that grasped him and removed him from the structure, after he perched himself precariously on the edge, teetering, threatening to plunge to the concrete a hundred feet below.
      “What you trying to do, kill yourself?” one of the men asked. 
      “Maybe.” Martin mumbled.
      “Not on my jobsite.” The supervisor said. “You need to go home for the day.”
      Martine didn’t argue. Instead, he walked out the front gate and aimed his car toward his camp.
      As he drove, his anger for Van Norman grew and planned what to do about it.
                                        Monday, April 26, 1982 08:50 hrs
Lieutenant Cosmo E. “Mo” Martello was usually Shift Supervisor, for one of the four rotating shifts that covered Kleinpeter substation. Most recently, he had been assigned to a straight day job, checking tow yards for recovered stolen vehicles. The change of duty had served him well. He hadn’t felt this good in years.
      The Lieutenant assigned to take his shift, Mike Cullen, had taken the day off, which put Martello in charge of the shift. Under him, the shift was made up of a seven deputies:
      Sergeant Don May, Unit K-41
      Corporal Frankie Sinclair, Unit K-42
      Deputy Jimmy Matthews, Unit K-43
      Deputy Jack Peters, Unit K-44
      Deputy Terry Smith, Unit K-45
      Deputy Allen Persick, Unit K-46
      Without the Shift Lieutenant on duty,  Martello took it upon himself to read over the stack of weekend reports, preparing them to go downtown, mentally noting anything out of the ordinary to pass on to the substation commander, Captain Robert “Bob” Shortess. Across the room from him, Deputy Jackie Peters had drawn substation and radio duty for the day, logged the radio traffic for the units assigned to the sub. Since his shift began, he had filled out two handwritten pages.
      Stirring his fresh cup of coffee, Peters reached for the ringing phone; punching the button a half second after Martello answered the line.
      “Kleinpeter Sub.” 
      “Is this Van Norman?” the voice asked hesitantly.
      “No…this is…” Martello began to say, when the line went dead.
      Martello hung up the phone, but before he could go back to his reports, the phone rang again. Martello answered it.
      “Kleinpeter Substation, Lieutenant Martello.”
      “Lieutenant,” the voice began, “This is Shirley O’ Conner. I’m an Emergency Operator with Southern Bell. I transferred that last call you just received, from the city police.” She said. “The caller told me that he didn’t want the city police and asked to be transferred to Kleinpeter Substation.”
      “Yes, Ma’am.”
      “The caller identified himself as ‘E1-64-A1’ and said that ‘they were closing in on him’ and ‘time was running out!’” O’Conner said excitedly. “Right before he hung up, he said something that sounded like, someone was possibly shot.”
      Martello was jotting down notes, as she related the phone number and address. Martello hung up and something about the address seemed familiar. He flipped through the pile of papers on the desk and found the reports filed by Van Norman and Laborde, where they were dispatched to the same address.
      Martello punched in the phone number and waited for it to ring. On the second ring, Martello heard a click and the phone answered.
      “This is the Sheriff’s Office.” Martello said.
      “Is this Van Norman?” He asked.
      “No, this is…” Martello started. He heard the line click off once again. Repeated calls after that yielded no answers.
      Kyle Martin cracked open the chamber on his single shot twelve-gauge shotgun and chambered a round. He looked in the living room and was satisfied at the way he had arranged the couches. They were in a “V”, with the point facing the front door. He emptied the box of shotgun shells onto the kitchen counter and began stuffing them in his pockets, while adjusting the blinds on the front window, so that he could see anyone outside, though it would be difficult for anyone outside to see in. His red windbreaker he had worn to work lay across the couch and he changed out of his work shirt, which carried the chemical smell of the plant he worked, into an orange pull over. 
      Reaching into a drawer in the kitchen, he pulled out a small envelope of Cherry Kool-Aid and poured it in a pitcher, adding a little bit of water. He swished it around, until the drink resembled less a kid’s beverage and more like blood.
      He put the pitcher down and grabbed the phone book from a drawer and flipped the pages, stopping on the number to the Main Sheriff’s office. Snatching the received off of the hook, he punched in the number.

                                        Monday, April 26, 1982 08:55 hrs
Captain Robert Shortess, the Kleinpeter Substation Commander, had just walked into the office, when he overheard the conversation between Martello and Peters, as they discussed the phone calls.
      “Morning, Mo.” Shortess said. “What’s going on?”
      Martello quickly ran down the incidents that had occurred over the weekend and the phone calls he had received. After Shortess was brought up to speed, he told Martello that they should go check it out.
      “Jackie, “Martello began, “Call Communications and tell them where we are going and why.” He said. “Then, call the State Police and see if their Narcotics Division has any confidential informants with the “E1” designation.”
      ‘Will do.” Peters answered. “I’ll check with the city police as well.”
      Shortess and Martello agreed to take Shortess’s unit and they would ride together. Shortess had loaned his car to another deputy, whose car was down for the weekend and was not too happy at the condition they had left it in.
      Cleaning off his front seat, Martello climbed in and they headed for the camp of Horseshoe Bend road.

The Communications office for the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office was a small, three room horseshoe, crammed with radios, phones and people, located in the basement of the Old Courthouse, in the heart of downtown Baton Rouge. They were across the small hallway from the lockup area, which led to the main jail. Being based in, what was affectionately called “The Dungeon”, the small area was the “Ear” of the department, while the deputies on the street were its eyes, arms and legs.
      On most shifts, there were five call takers who doubled as dispatchers, as well as a shift sergeant and corporal.
      The assigned radio call sign, issued by the Federal Communications Commission was KKC654, which the dispatcher was required to broadcast at least once an hour, which publicly  acknowledging the frequency. 
      Normally, however, the dispatchers and road deputies would just use the short-hand version and refer to dispatch as “654.”
      The main room was dominated by a ten foot counter, with a bank of phones situated opposite of one another. Lining two of the other walls were more counter tops and phones. A teletype machine and computer screens were interspersed amongst the phones.
      On the left tip of the horseshoe was the office belonging to Captain Douglas Browning. Browning had been around the department for decades, having worked most of the administrative positions before taking command of the Communications division. Browning would have been a street officer, if not the crippling affects of Polio when he was young, which depleted his leg strength and forced him to walk with a significant limp.
      The right tip of the horseshoe housed the radio room, which was the main dispatch center of the department. On any given day, the dispatch center would field hundreds of radio calls, as well as manage the radio and dispatch traffic for three substations, the Detective Division, Narcotics, Prison transport, Warrants Division, as well as Criminal and Civil Process, responsible for serving lawsuits and divorce paperwork. The dispatcher would document each transmission made to them, handwritten, on a log. On day shift, which ran Seven AM until Seven PM, it wasn’t uncommon for the daily log to exceed ten to twelve pages.
      On this day, Sergeant Joe Leblanc was the shift supervisor. Leblanc was a veteran dispatcher, having spent most of his fifteen years as a radio operator and supervisor. Having worked under Sheriff Al Amiss for those years, Leblanc was savvy enough to do what needed to be done and make sure that none of his people cause any waves, which would reflect back on him or his shift.
      Leblanc rocked back in his chair, glancing in at the dispatcher working the radio, his trained ‘radio ear” catching the radio traffic, as well as monitoring each and every phone call that the other deputies were taking, ready to answer any questions or correct any information that the call taker may communicate.

      Jimmy C. Matthews strode into the Communications office and snapped to attention, he threw a proper British salute to the dispatchers and greeted them, before collapsing into a near-by chair. 
      Born in Beaumont Texas, His father, an oil field worker, moved Jim and his brother, Henry to Baton Rouge, in 1943. Jim had gone to Baton Rouge High school, but left school in 1958, to join the Marines. He was with one of the earliest expeditionary forces to go into Vietnam and after serving two tours, be left the Corps, but not the mindset. Married, with a young family on the way, he worked as a security guard at the D.H. Holmes store, in Delmont Village, until he applied and was hired by the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s office, in November of 1978. After a year working in the prison, he was transferred to Kleinpeter Substation.
      A bear of a man, Jimmy stood over six feet tall and easily filled the doorway. Looking older than his years, he kept his salt and pepper hair in a Marine buzz cut, which went with his matching salt and pepper moustache, Matthews reminded many of a kindly grandfather, even though he was just forty-one.
      He was known for taking rookie deputies under his wing and giving them the best training that he knew how to do. 
      Rocking in the swivel chair, Matthews sipped his coffee and cracked jokes with the dispatchers. He glanced at his watch. It was 08:55.
      “You got somewhere to be?” Leblanc asked Matthews.
      “I have a misdemeanor trial at 10:00.” Matthews said. “Just killing time before court.” 
      He had a little over an hour before he had to be in the courtroom. Matthews had been around long enough to know that trials never went on time. The court would usually go through preliminary cases, accepting pleas and fines from people, clearing the docket before the trail would begin.
      He listened to the radio traffic and chatted with the dispatchers about his activities over the weekend. Working a rotating shift, he had the last three days off and was prepared to work the next two days.
      While he relaxed, one of the dispatchers noticed that Matthews wasn’t wearing his soft body armor vest.
      “I don’t wear it in court.” Matthews said, patting his chest. “It’s just too damn hot and uncomfortable to wear while sitting in that courtroom.”
      As Matthews was speaking, the phone rang. Deputy Patti Shatlan, who was working the radio console, answered and listened for a few minutes, trying to interject questions, as the caller rambled on.
     Hanging up the phone, she looked curiously at Sergeant Leblanc.
     “What’s the matter?” Leblanc asked.
     “That was weird.” Shatlan said. “The caller said that there was a ‘cruiser’ sinking in the Amite River.”
      Leblanc looked at the notes she had written down and shrugged.
      “That’s probably that kooky kid that Donnie Van Norman dealt with all weekend.” Matthews said. He then began to relay the conversation he had had with Van Norman at shift change earlier in the morning, where he had been told him about Kyle Martin.
      The phone rang once again and this time, Sergeant Leblanc answered it. The call was from Jackie Peters at Kleinpeter Sub, advising him that Lieutenant Martello and Captain Shortess were heading out the Martin’s camp of Horseshoe Bend road, to check out a possible shooting.
      Matthews checked his watch once more and shrugged.
      “I’ve got time before my trial.” Matthews said. “I’ll head out there and back up Mo and Bob.”
      With a good natured, “I’ll see ya.” Matthews left the office.
      In his unit, Matthews spoke with Martello, recapping the conversation that he had with Van Norman earlier. Matthews said that Van Norman had warned him to use caution when dealing with martin. Martello acknowledged him, reinforced with the knowledge of the reports he had read about Martin. 
            Ken Martin was frustrated. After trying nearly all day Friday, to get the Coroner to issue the paperwork that would commit Kyle to a mental health facility, he was back on the phone with the office again, hoping that they would expedite the order. He had seen his son deteriorate over the weekend and not only did he fear for his own family, but he began to fear for others that Kyle Martin might come in contact with. Patiently, he waited in the anteroom, while the Coroner reviewed Mr. Martin’s request.

      Shortess and Martello drove the length of Horseshoe Bend road, looking for the camp that Kyle was calling from. Matthews arrived a short time later and after a couple a minutes, found the camp. He called Shortess and they pulled into the long driveway, which led to the camp, sitting on the piers. Parking behind Matthews’s unit, Martello exited the car and looked around the area. He saw the red and white Monte Carlo parked in the driveway, with its’ emergency lights flashing. Peering inside the car, Martello looked on the front seat and saw what looked like blood spatters.
      “Jimmy, get your shotgun.” Martello said. Matthews reached into the unit and drew out his Remington 870 twelve gauge shotgun and, but didn’t chamber a round.
      Shortess, near the driver’s door of the squad car, reached in and turned the radio to the P.A. setting.
      A couple of minutes passed. No response came from the camp.
      Martello then nodded to Matthews and the two men cautiously approached the camp.

      Michelle Fourrier was dodging traffic of I-10, making his way to the downtown office. Being the Commander of the Narcotics Division, as well as the SWAT team, “Mooney”, as his friends called him, was thinking about the next search warrant that his team was going to serve later on in the day. As the leader of the Division, his radio number was “N-20.” 
      Detective Randy Keller was numb
      Having taken the day off to go to the dentist, the Novocain kept the throbbing down, as he drove home to his house in Old Jefferson Subdivision. Afraid of any after affects of the anesthesia, his wife rode with him to the dentist. After the work was completed, he felt good enough to drive home, which was good thing, since he was driving his department issued 1979 Ford LTD…Lime green in color. He turned up his unit’s radio, absently listening to the traffic, intermixed with the music on his in-car stereo.
      It was 09:15 hrs.

      Martello approached the bottom of the exposed stairway, on the front of the camp, his revolver drawn. Behind him, Jimmy Matthews carried his shotgun at port arms, as both men eased up the stairs. Reaching the top, Martello accessed the situation. 
      The porch on the camp was completely screened in, which meant the only entrance and exit was the stairway they were on. There were two windows on both sides of a screen door. The blinds on the windows were down, making it difficult to see inside.
      Martello eased past the one window and approached the screen door. He tried it and found that it was locked with a hook lock. He exchanged glances with Matthews: Someone is in the camp!
      Drawing his pocket knife, Martello cut a small slash into the screen and slipped the eye-loop lock and slowly opened the door. Pausing, he listened for any signs of movement from inside the camp. Other than a dog barking, there didn’t appear to be any signs of life. 
      Martello slowly moved across the front deck of the screened in porch, and took a position on the left side of the door, while Matthews moved to the right side. Once they were in position, Martello knocked hard on the door.
      “Sheriff’s Office!”
      He listened and inside the camp was quiet. Martello glanced at Matthews, who turned away from the lieutenant. Matthews peered in through a window on the right side of the window, the blinds pulled close. Then, he saw the curtain in front of the blinds move.
      A shotgun blast tore through the blinds.
      The shot caught Matthews in the left, chest, right at the badge level, knocking him backwards onto the elevated deck. 
      Ducking down, Martello grabbed Jimmy by the boot to access his condition. Seeing no signs of response, Martello saw that when Matthews had fallen, his body had blocked the screen door leading to the stairway.
      Martello realized that his only means of escape had been blocked.
      Debating on whether he should chance passing in front of the window or not, Martello glanced around the screened in porch and made a decision.
      He moved as far away from the door as he could and kicked out a section of the screen, while keeping an eye on the door and window. Once the screen fell away, he leaped from the porch and took cover under the raised deck, keeping his eyes and his revolver trained on the stairway.
      Shortess, hearing the shot, took refuge behind a small tree on the passenger side of the unit. As he started to draw a bead of the source, more shots rang out, striking his unit in the windshield and taking quarter sized divots out of the hood, causing Shortess to scrunch down farther behind the measly tree for cover.
      Martello watched in stunned silence, while Kyle Martin riddled both his and Matthews’s sheriff’s units with numerous rounds, tearing into the hard steel bodies and ripping the upholstery. He saw Shortess return fire and, in the middle of a lull in the shooting, he glanced down in the dirt, under the camp.
      There, lying in the dirt was a penny. He leaned down and dusted it off and saw that it was face up.
      A lucky Penny.
      Martello looked up at the camp and at the fire that Kyle Martin was reigning down and said aloud, “You’re not getting me today, you Son of a Bitch. This is my lucky day!”

      Shortess kept an eye of the window and on Martello. He never saw Kyle Martine, but his finesse with the single-shot shotgun, which was the only thing visible through the window, made Shortess wonder how many people and how many weapons were firing at them.
      Taking a chance, he fired off a couple of more rounds and made a grab for the car radio, keying the mike.
      “K-15 to 654…Signal 63! Officer down, shots fired!” he screamed into the radio.
      For a long minute, the air was silent. No one answered.
      “K-15, to 654…Signal 63! Shots fired! Officer Down!!” 
      He unkeyed the microphone and awaited the voices of other units to answer up and respond.
      After another long silence, he cursed and threw the mike back into the car. Getting Martello’s attention, Shortess motioned for the Lieutenant to get ready to run. In the lull of the shooting, Shortess laid across the hood of the car, firing several rounds in cover fire at the shattered windshield.
      At the same time, Martello heard glass breaking on the back side of the camp. Sensing his opportunity, Martello sprinted from under the camp, sliding to a stop next to Shortess, behind the bullet-ridden squad car.
      “Where the hell’s our back-up?” Martello asked.
     “I don’t know if I got out. I don’t know if anybody heard.” Shortess answered.
      Training his own pistol on the window, Martello watched, while Shortess reloaded his six shot revolver from one of the two speed loader pouched on his belt. Closing the cylinder, he gave Martello an anxious look; both men knew that they only had the six rounds in Bob’s revolver, the six on his belt, and the eighteen rounds that Martello had with his weapon.
      “Jimmy?” Shortess asked.
      “He caught it in the chest, Bob.” Martello said. “I think he’s dead.”
      Shortess digested the fact that he had already accepted. It was sour in his stomach and he cursed.
      Two more burst from the shooter struck their cover, causing them both to duck behind the tire.
      Looking at each other, the two men realized that they were on their own.

      Jackie Peters stepped back into the main room from the back, when he heard the frantic cry for help, coming across the substations radio. Racing to the radio, he keyed the desk mike and he opened the channel.
      “Kleinpeter sub, to K-15. 10-4.” Peters answered. He then keyed it a second time. “Kleinpeter Sub to 654. Did you read that traffic? Signal 63, shots fired, officer down!” he repeated.  

      Deputy Patti Shatlan was on the radio. It was a slow morning, traffic wise, and she took the opportunity to file her nails. The radio crackled with Deputy Peter’s voice.
      “Kleinpeter sub, to 654, did you hear me? Signal 63, shots fired, officer down!”
      Shatlan took a second to register what had been said. She touched the mike, acknowledging the traffic. In a state of shock, she went back to filing her nails, seemingly oblivious to the enormity of the situation.
      Sergeant Joe Leblanc was not oblivious, however. A veteran of many years on the radio, his trained ear picked up the on the traffic and the desperation in Peter’s voice. Darting into the radio room, he moved Shatlan out and took the channel.
      “654 to all units! We have a Signal 63, shots fired…officer down!” He repeated.
      Leblanc kept his voice steady and firm, knowing that if he allowed the enormity of the situation and the panic he felt creep into his voice that it would affect the deputies and how they responded to the scene. 
      While Leblanc fielded the inquiries as to where the assistance was needed, the rest of the communications deputies began answering the flood on inevitable phone calls, asking for information and the location on the shooting. 

      Detective Randy Keller had just pulled into his driveway, when he heard, what he would later relate as “a blood-curdling scream for help,” come across the radio. Slamming the car into reverse, he peeled out of his driveway, hell-bent to get to the deputies that were being shot at. His high performance Ford accelerated out of the subdivision and sped down Jefferson Highway, in the most direct route to Horse Shoe Bend road.

      Mooney Fourrier had just exited the I-10 interstate and was westbound on Government Street, when he heard Jackie Peters voice come across the radio. Getting a bead on the location, he turned his unit around and barreled back onto the interstate, heading for the shooting scene.
      “N-20 to 654.” Fourrier said. “Call out the SWAT team and get them heading that way.”
      “10-4, N-20.” Leblanc answered crisply.

      Bob Shortess continued to watch for a chance to take out the shooter. He looked through the shattered windows on the unit.
      “Get me your shotgun, Mo.” Shortess said. “I’m gonna kill this Son of Bitch!”
      Chancing it, Martello lunged inside the unit and retrieved the shotgun from the front seat, handing it to Shortess. Racking a round in the chamber, he sighted in on the window, and when he saw a shape in the window, he pulled the trigger.
      The hammer landed on an empty chamber.
      Checking the weapon, he cycled the slide again and again. The shotgun was empty of shells. Frantically, they looked in the car and came up with nothing.
      Shortess and Martello didn’t know at the time, but the weekend before, where Martello’s unit had been used by another deputy, they had unloaded the shotgun and taken the shells with them.
      Frustrated, Shortess threw the weapon down and resumed cover.
      Looking around, he saw that the driveway had been lined with a barbed-wire fence. He debated the chances that he could get over the fence and out of the yard, before he caught a shotgun blast in the back. Weighing the odds, he elected to stay where he was in relative, if not tentative, safety. 
      He glanced behind him, hoping at any minute to see the cavalry arrive. 
      “Where ever they are”, Shortess thought, “I wonder if we will be alive to see them.”

      Keller’s Ford raced up Hoo Shoo Too Road, turning on to Horseshoe Bend. He looked frantically, not for the address on a mailbox, but for the units. Seeing the cars parked off on the east side of the road, Keller pulled onto the driveway and did a quick survey of the scene.
      Martello and Matthew’s police units were up ahead, just below the elevated camp. He could see Martello and Shortess hunkered down behind a small tree and the rear of their cars, and could hear the reverberating blasts from the shotgun. Looking up, he saw the shotgun sticking out of the camp’s porch window, burping fire out of the barrel every time it fired. Even from his distance, he could see that the windows and tires on both units had been shot out and flattened.
      Keller lay down on the front seat, peering out the front windshield, as he eased forward. He steered and worked the brake and gas pedal with his hands, keeping as low and out of the line of fire as possible. He covered the one hundred and fifty yards from the street to the parked units. He unsnapped his holster and kept his .38 snub-nose revolver at the ready. Lying on his front seat next to him was his twelve gauge shotgun.
      As he drew closer to the units, he could hear Kyle Martin screaming and cursing at the deputies, in between shotgun blasts. The rounds could be heard striking the metal car bodies and Keller flinched, as Martin saw his approaching unit and concentrated his fire on it. The windshield spider-webbed, as numerous rounds struck his car. One round, apparently a deer slug, hit the hood, leaving a half-dollar sized hole in the metal.
      Pulling up behind Martello’s unit, Keller slid out of the front seat and in one motion, pulled the shotgun from the front seat and laid down concentrated fire on the window that Martin was firing from. Wood scraps flew from the window frame, as blast after blast struck the window, driving Martin back away.
      “Ya’ll all right?” Keller yelled over his car to the other men.
      “Yeah.” Martello answered. “Jimmy’s hit. He’s still on the porch.”
      Keller glanced over the hood and could make out the supine form of Matthews, lying on the upper deck. 
      Running low on ammunition, Keller reached inside the glove box, searching for a box of shotgun shells. Victorious, he pulled out what he thought was a box of Remington twelve gauge Double-Ought buckshot shells. To his disappointment, he found that it was a box of Kotex tampons. Cursing, he threw them back inside the car, remembering that he used his sheriff’s unit as a personal vehicle as well, which meant transporting the wife and family. He checked the chamber and reloading tube and saw that he had three shots left.
      Keller glanced at the camp and watched for movement in the window. When Martin didn’t reappear after a couple of minutes, Keller formulated a plan. 
      “Bob,” Keller began, “I’m gonna lay down cover fire for ya. When I do, you make a break for it and get in behind my car.”
      Shortess nodded and waited.
      “Mo, once Bob makes it, you move.”
      Both men prepared to run. Keller rose up and fired a round from his shotgun and the window. As he ejected the spent casing, Shortess sprinted the ten feet to the rear of Keller’s unit. Once he was safely behind it, Keller came up again and fired, giving Martello his opening. Mo crossed the distance quickly and stayed low behind the bumper.
      “Randy, let me have your pistol.” Martello said, holstering his empty pistol. Keller passed the snub nose .38 to Martello and climbed back inside the car. Once again lying across the front seat, he put the car in reverse and started backing out. Martello opened the rear driver’s side door, so that Keller could see where he was going through the crack in the door.

      “Moonie” Fourrier pulled up to the camp, seeing the other police units that had arrived and were still arriving. Exiting his unit, he grabbed his M-16 from his trunk and sprinted to the scene.
      Pandemonium reigned, as officers from different agencies took cover behind their cars and kept their weapons trained on the camp, over a hundred yards away. Fourrier took a position behind a car, in enough time to see Keller backing his car down the driveway toward them. 
      Duck-walking backwards, Shortess and Martello stayed slightly ahead of the unit, watching their step, as not to stumble and fall under the car and keeping an eye on the camp and Martin.
      Midway down the driveway, the unit veered slightly. The open rear door caught the door and refused to budge. Keller saw the tree and for a second, debated on whether to pull back up and go around the obstruction.
      “Don’t worry about that God Damn tree…drive!” Shortess yelled at Keller. 
      Putting it back in reverse, Keller accelerated pushing the door against the tree, bending it forward toward the front door. Getting past the tree, he continued backing, and saw a group of deputies, detectives and state troopers. 
      Keller wondered angrily, “Why the hell aren’t they coming to help us?”
      Slowly and fearfully, he continued down the driveway, until the three men were out of the line of fire.
      Fourrier’s stomach sank, when he saw Keller’s unit catch the car door on the tree and stop. He rose up from behind the fender he was crouched down behind, and began to go toward the stranded, before pausing, when the high-powered engine of the Keller’s Ford Ltd kicked in and powered past the tree. 
      Keeping his eyes on the rearview mirror, but glancing back at the camp, Keller continued until he moved close enough for the other officers to move up and protect the vehicle and its passengers.
      Colonel Fred Sliman, Chief Criminal Deputy with the Sheriff’s office, broke off his consultations with Captain Mike Barnett, Chief of Detectives, as Keller and the others arrived. 
      Martello and Shortess quickly ran down the incident and what led up to it to Sliman, who lit his second cigarette since he made the scene ten minutes before.
      He consulted with Fourrier, before deciding how best to proceed.
      “We gotta get Jimmy, Colonel.” Martello said, looking back at the camp. “He’s still lying there.”
      Sliman, a veteran of several armed encounters, as thirty-plus years as a deputy, considered the situation. He walked over to where the Louisiana State Police Troopers had gathered and found the trooper in charge.
      “Can you get me Big Bertha?” he asked.
      The trooper thought for a brief second and picked up the radio. He contacted LSP Troop A, the headquarters for the state police and made the request, via Colonel Sliman. After only a moment, the response came back in the affirmative.
      At the Louisiana State Police Headquarters, the armored vehicle, nicknamed “Big Bertha” was being primed from battle. A refurbished Vietnam-era military personnel carrier, the vehicle had armor thick enough to withstand anything less than a 7.62 round. Loading the tactical team aboard, the vehicle headed out to Horseshoe Bend road, on the other side of the parish from its South Foster Drive storage area.

      Finalizing a plan, Captain Fourrier picked two other deputies and the three made their way around the to the river bank, moving up on the east side of the camp. Staying out of sight of the windows, the team moved down to the riverbank and made their way through the sinking sand and underbrush, snaking up until they were on the back of the camp, which faced the river.
      Once they were in position, Fourrier loaded the teargas rounds into the shotgun and began firing them into the camp, shattering the windows, while the others on his team covered him with their own weapons, prepared to return fire should Martin fire back.
      After saturating the camp, Fourrier and his team retreated, their intent to take cover behind the camp situated next to Martin’s. As they made their way, a volley of gunfire could be heard coming from the camp. Not knowing if the rounds were meant for them, they took the most circuitous route, making their way using the riverbank and underbrush to cover their movement. Once they arrived at the camp, they were joined by Detective Corporal Chris Browning and Detective Lieutenant Cecil “Sonny” Jarreau.
      Covering the rear of the camp, Jarreau and the others kept weapons trained on the camp, while reinforcements arrived. Lieutenant Louis Russell and two Louisiana State Troopers arrived, along with Sergeant Bobby Dale Callender, who, along with Fourrier, Sliman, and Captain Mike Barnett, would make up the final assault team.
      Russell, Fourrier and one of the troopers resumed firing tear gas into the camp from their location, keeping Martin occupied, and under cover, as they awaited the arrival of the state police armored personnel carrier, “Big Bertha”. The vehicle had been delayed by mechanical failures while enroute.
      When “Big Bertha” arrived, an exploratory team of officers from various jurisdictions lined up to the rear of the vehicle and, using it for cover, approached the camp, to determine the status of Deputy Matthews.
      Barnett, who led the contingency, checked Matthews. He was lying on his back, with no signs of life. Once they determined that the mission was now a recovery and not a rescue, the team withdrew back to the perimeter.
      Vince Laborde awake that morning with a start. He had taken off earlier that night before to get some sleep, but something nagged him awake. He stumbled into the kitchen and turned on the television, to be notified by the news of the shooting and the stand-off currently going on. He sat down at the kitchen table and shook his head.

      Donnie Van Norman slept most of the day, oblivious of the carnage that was unfolding.
      Colonel Sliman picked Fourrier, Callender and Barnett to go with him to assault the camp and stop Martin.
      “Colonel, the Swat team is here and they’re ready to go.” Fourrier said.
      Sliman looked at Fourrier and drew his pistol.
      “I’m the Colonel!” he stated, the edge on his voice cut off any objections. “I’m going in.” 
      Once again, using “Big Bertha” for cover, the four deputies crept up behind the armored tank as it pulled up to the camp. Charging up the stairs, Sliman and the others made their way to the top of the exposed stairway, positioning themselves on the porch, careful of Matthews whose body blocked the top of the stairs.
      Fourrier didn’t pause, as he kicked in the door to the camp and went to the left, as Callender followed, peeling off to the right. Fourrier, armed with a twelve gauge shotgun, drew a bead on the center of the room, where they believed that Martin was hiding. Callender, like Barnett and Sliman, were armed with .357 Magnum handguns. Callender took cover behind the counter in the kitchen.
      The four men’s eyes were immediately assaulted by the thick cloud of tear gas that hung in the air, even though they were wearing gas masks.
      Fourrier saw Martin hunched down between two couches, which were set in a “V: formation, facing the door. Martin rose up from the center of the “V” with a red blanket over his head, apparently to ward off the tear gas. 
      “HOLD IT!” Fourrier yelled at Martin, who was facing away from them as he rose. 
      Yanking the towel off of his head, Martin turned toward Fourrier and the others, with his shotgun in hand. Before he was able to bring the weapon to bear, the four deputies shot simultaneously. 
      Martin was struck several times by double-ought buckshot, and pistol rounds, tearing into his upper body and head. He collapsed, falling still in front of the two couches.
      Callender and Fourrier then went through the rest of the camp, making sure that no other assailants were hiding. Once the small camp was cleared, Sliman stepped out side onto the porch and pulled off his mask. He looked down at the body of Matthews, who had been lying on the porch for nearly three hours. He waved the gas mask at the others on the perimeter signaled to the others that the scene was secured. Sliman lit a cigarette and wiped the sweat and gas from his face.
      Fourrier and Callender came out of the camp, tears and sweat stinging their eyes and tear gas permeating their clothes. Barnett followed them, out of the tattered screen and watching the police units and men on foot approach the camp.

      The rest of the day passed in a daze. Detective questioned the neighbors and family, trying to build s picture of Kyle Martin. Martin’s father arrived at the scene of the ambush and was stopped by deputies on the perimeter.
      “I demand to see my son!” the elder Martin yelled to anyone that would listen.
      Sliman approached the man and stopped in front of him. He saw the anguish in the man’s eyes. 
      “I want to see my son.” He said more quietly.
      “Let him through.” Sliman said. Martin passed under the crime scene tape and hurried toward the camp. Sliman and Barnett followed him, keeping pace with him. They were a step behind him as he ascended the stairway and steeled them selves for the fresh wave of teargas, which still hung in the air inside and outside of the camp. Martin paused for a moment, his eyes widened as he saw the ripped siding, shattered windows, and bullet holes that showed peppered the walls and door. He felt the sting of the gas, as he stepped into the camp and saw the still form of his son. He was lying face down, with a blanket draped over his upper body, which was saturated with blood.
      The sight of his dead son, combined with the affects of the tear gas, caused tears to stream from his eyes, burning his face. He backed slowly out and saw Sliman and Barnett.
      “I want you to know that I understand why you had to do this. I don’t blame you.” Martin said. He looked at the porch and saw the large blood stain where Jimmy Matthews had lay. “If I would have been here, he would have killed me too.”

      The Communications center, which two hours previous was awash in activity, was now quiet, it’s personnel subdued. They were still in shock, considering that Matthews was sitting with them, just a short time ago, drinking coffee and joking…and now, he was gone.
      For the newest rookies, the realization of just how dangerous police work can truly be came crashing down on them, when Jackie Peters voice came across the radio, announcing that there was a deputy down.
      For the older hands, their minds flashed back to January 10, 1972, where two deputies were killed and a news anchorman was beaten senseless during a riot in downtown Baton Rouge.
      After the event was over and the deputies involved were debriefed, Colonel Sliman called Donnie Van Norman to his office. The younger man stood quietly, as Sliman held up Jim Matthew's badge. The double-ought slug had struck it, bending five of the six points down.
      To this day, Van Norman isn’t sure if Sliman said, “This could have been you” or “This should have been you!” Either way, a short time later, Van Norman resigned from the sheriff’s department.

      Sometime later, Michel Fourrier looked at the battered badge that had belonged to Matthews. The grotesque keepsake had been in Sliman’s desk drawer and through the course of time, ended up in Mooney’s possession.
      Not knowing a fitting tribute, or alternative, He drove across the Old Mississippi River 190 bridge, and parked. Walking up the bridge, he held the deformed symbol of law, five points bent inward like a fist, in his hand as he approached the top. When he reached it, he looked to the deepest part of the river and flung the badge into it, watching it hit and be swallowed by the rushing water. 
      No words were said. None were needed.
      He turned and walked back to his car.   
      Matthews was still able to contribute to the citizens that he had sworn to protect one last time. He donated his organs and eyes, which went to help those less fortunate. Even though he died on the porch of that camp on that humid April day, his life and legacy carried on.
      James C. Matthews was the first deputy killed in the line of duty at the beginning of the 1980’s. But, he would not be the last to die in East Baton Rouge Parish. By 1990, two other deputies and three City Police Officers names joined Matthews on the Wall of Remembrance.

      For me, the rookie deputy who had his first experience with the death of a friend and mentor in the line of duty, the loss is still fresh and the memory still vivid.
      It was said at Jimmy’s funeral…”Martin killed Jimmy by hitting him in the largest place in the world. He couldn’t miss. He hit Jimmy in his heart!”

      For Jimmy and Mo…Rest easy my friends….

Scott Morales- Retired
EBR Parish Sheriffs Office/ Fort Wayne Indiana Police Depsrtment

February 10, 2022

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