True Crime News Roundup: Police Knew Kidnapped 3-Month-Old Was In Car When They Opened Fire, Killing Him
Plus: Smuggler caught with 52 reptiles concealed in his clothing; missing Hawaiian man found encased in concrete; correctional officer accused of killing his girlfriend; and film director mistakenly handcuffed after bank reports robbery.
A Louisiana man allegedly killed his ex-girlfriend and then kidnapped their baby boy, who was fatally shot after a police pursuit.
New details have emerged in the case of a newborn baby boy who was fatally shot when police opened fire on a vehicle driven by the child’s father.
In May 2021, Eric Derrell Smith allegedly murdered 32-year-old Christin Parker— his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his 3-month-old son, La’Mello — as well as her nephew, Brandon Parker, 26, in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, WLOX reported.
Smith then allegedly kidnapped his son and got into a pursuit on I-10 that at one point reportedly involved as many as around 50 law enforcement vehicles.
The murder suspect was eventually stopped when he drove over spike strips and came to a stop in the freeway’s median near Biloxi, Mississippi. Officers surrounded Smith’s vehicle and fired multiple rounds, killing Smith. His son, who was seated in the front seat, died from a single gunshot wound the following day.
Since the shooting, the victims’ family has been pushing for more transparency in the case. Lashunda Parker, the young victim’s cousin, claimed to Insider that authorities have not provided them details related to the case, including if it was an officer or Smith who shot the baby.
A call log from the Jackson County Sheriff's Department in Mississippi allegedly “showed that officers knew a baby was in the front seat of the vehicle, though the log didn't specify whether the baby was in his father's arms, or in the front passenger seat,” Insider reported.
“Why would they shoot if they knew a baby was in the car, why would they do that?" Parker told the outlet. “I'm angry about it. I'm also angry about what happened to his mother and her nephew. It was three tragedies in one day and that's horrible.”
Last month, Biloxi police concluded an investigation into the shooting and turned over their findings to Harrison County District Attorney's Office.
“Due to legal and ethical obligations, the District Attorney's Office cannot comment on the content of the file or when the file will be presented to the grand jury,” Assistant District Attorney Matthew Burrell told WLOX.
A smuggler is caught with 52 reptiles concealed in his clothing at the U.S.-Mexico border, authorities say.
A man was caught trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border with 52 live reptiles — nine snakes and 43 horned lizards — contained in small bags and “concealed in his jackets, pants pockets and groin area,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement.
The Feb. 25 incident at the San Ysidro border crossing with Mexico occurred after agents flagged the 30-year-old U.S. citizen for an additional inspection, authorities said.
“Smugglers will try every possible way to try and get their product, or in this case live reptiles, across the border,” Sidney Aki, Customs and Border Protection Director of Field Operations in San Diego, said of the man, who was placed under arrest.
“In this occasion, the smuggler attempted to deceive CBP officers in order to bring these animals into the US, without taking care for the health and safety of the animals,” some of which are considered endangered, Aki noted.
Two suspects are under arrest in connection to the death of a Hawaiian man found encased in concrete.
Police apprehended two suspects in connection to the killing of a 77-year-old Hawaiian man whose body was found encased in a concrete-filled bathtub.
On March 7, a man asked Honolulu police to do a wellbeing check on his brother, Gary L. Ruby, and said the last time he had heard from him was in January, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported.
Officers responded to the missing man’s home, where they questioned 23-year-old Juan Tejedor Baron. According to Baron, he lived at the address with Ruby and the two were in a relationship.
Police said Baron then left the residence with another man, Scott Hannon, 34.
Investigators returned to Ruby’s house the following day and found his decomposing body in tub filled with “a concrete-type mixture” and topped with coffee, which police believe was used to mask the odor.
On March 9, California authorities located Baron in Anaheim aboard a Mexico-bound bus and Hannon was taken into custody in Inglewood. Both were placed under arrest and booked into the Los Angeles Police Department Metropolitan Detention Center on pending charges, the Honolulu Police Department said in a statement.
Police have not disclosed how the two men know each other or the nature of their relationship.
The investigation is ongoing.
A correctional officer is accused of fatally shooting his girlfriend and then claiming she died by suicide.
A correctional officer at Corcoran State Prison in California found himself on the wrong side of the law after he allegedly killed his girlfriend and then attempted to claim to emergency dispatchers it was a suicide, authorities alleged.
Around 7 a.m. on March 6, Luis Pulido-Esparza phoned 911 to report his girlfriend, Marilu Ramirez Olmedo, had fatally shot herself, KFSN-TV reported.
“Originally, he had said that she committed suicide, and he thought it stemmed from an argument they had the night before,” Corcoran Police Chief Reuben Shortnacy said.
Investigators determined, however, that “Esparza was responsible for the homicide of that individual,” Shortnacy said.
Pulido-Esparza was booked into the Kings County jail on suspicion of first-degree murder, felony child abuse, and special allegations for use of a firearm, according to KFSN-TV.
Police said the couple’s 2-year-old daughter as well as Ramirez’s two sons — ages 11 and 16 — from a previous relationship were home at the time of the shooting.
Pulido-Esparza reportedly first met Ramirez at Corcoran State Prison, where she also worked, and family said the couple dated for around five years.
“This is a really unusual crime for this small community,” Shortnacy said.
Police handcuff a Hollywood director after his bank reports an attempted robbery.
Authorities in Atlanta responding to a bank holdup call mistook Ryan Coogler, the director of Black Panther, Creed and other hit Hollywood films, for a robber and handcuffed him at a Bank of America on Jan. 7, according to an incident report recently obtained by People.
According to the document, Coogler, 35, approached a “pregnant Black female” bank teller with a note that allegedly read: “I would like to withdraw $12,000 cash from my checking account. Please do the money count somewhere else. I'd like to be discreet.”
Because the amount requested was over $10,000, there was an alert notification, the report states, and the teller “quickly advised her manager” that Coogler was “attempting to rob the bank.”
Employees contacted authorities, and four officers who responded to the scene handcuffed Coogle but then determined the incident was a mistake.
The director “was never in the wrong and was immediately” uncuffed, police wrote in the report, which noted bank officials apologized for the incident.
“This situation should never have happened,” Coogler told People. “However, Bank of America worked with me and addressed it to my satisfaction and we have moved on.”