HIGH SPEED PURSUIT ENDS IN ARREST OF TENSAS PARISH NIGHT HUNTERS

Release Date: 12/18/2007

On Dec. 11, Donald Merritt, 23, Joel Rushing, 21, and Justin Gossett, 20, all of Newellton were arrested following a vehicle pursuit by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division Sgt. Larry May. 


All three men were arrested for alleged wildlife violations including hunting deer during illegal hours, hunting deer from a public road and hunting from a moving vehicle.  Merritt, the driver of the vehicle, was also arrested for aggravated flight from an officer, reckless operation of a vehicle and failure to yield at a stop sign.


May saw a spotlight being shined from a vehicle and heard a rifle shot fired from the vehicle as it traveled north on La. 575 in Tensas Parish at approximately 8:30 p.m.  When May attempted to stop the vehicle, the pursuit began.  Merritt reached speeds over 100 miles per hour during the chase.  May pursued the vehicle into a field, where Merritt's vehicle got stuck in a flooded area.


Hunting deer during illegal hours or with artificial light carries a fine of up to $950, jail time up to 120 days, or both, plus court costs and forfeiture of seized items.  Hunting deer from a public road carries a penalty of up to $350, jail time for up to 60 days, or both, plus court costs.  Hunting from a moving vehicle is punishable by fines of up to $500, jail time for up to 90 days, or both, plus court costs.


Aggravated flight from an officer is a felony and punishable by imprisonment at hard labor for up to two years.  Reckless operation of a vehicle carries a fine of up to $200, jail time for up to 90 days, or both, plus court costs.  Restitution on the deer that was killed is valued at $524.


Other agents involved in the pursuit and case were Lt. Gene Wilson, and Senior Agent Brandon Miller.


For more information, contact Lt. Col. Keith LaCaze at klacaze@wlf.louisiana.gov or 225-765-2988.


2007-309