During a ceremony at the Jack Brooks Regional Airport Jefferson County Sheriff's Office aviation hangar Friday, April 19, JCSO honored three individuals for assisting law enforcement in apprehending two shooting suspects in a manhunt April 4. Loretta Mokry, Charles Shajari and Donnie Stanton helped police capture the two suspects who were fleeing after what JCSO Deputy Rod Carroll called a "drug deal gone wrong." For a related story click here: http://theexaminer.com/stories/news/bridge-city-man-succumbs-injuries-suffered-two-weeks-earlier .
"I just want to start off by thanking all of you for your help," said JCSO Sheriff Mitch Woods, who presented the three honorees with "Commitment to Community" awards during the ceremony. "On this particular day, thanks to y'all being willing to stay on board with us rather than let them bring you back to the hangar and drop you off made a world of difference for us. Y'all were able to spot the suspect."
Beaumont Police Department Chief Jimmie Singletary was at the event and echoed Woods' sentiment, thanking the three for their efforts in the search.
"Thank you," Singletary said, and asked, "Who saw the four-wheeler first?" Mokry responded that she was the one who spotted the ATV. Singletary said, "My guys said, 'I don't know how she saw that four-wheeler.' Thank you."
Mokry said she and her crew were monitoring vegetation near the marsh at Terrell Park on day of the manhunt. They were riding in the JCSO helicopter, and all three had their cameras.
"We were in the process of doing aerial photography," Mokry said. "We all had our cameras...We were able to assist in getting photographs and (video)."
Stanton said he took video footage of the incident.
"I was raised in the belief you help your civil servants," Stanton replied when asked why he was so quick to assist police in the manhunt."
According to a news release, on April 4, 2013, the JCSO helicopter was assisting the City of Beaumont Water Utilities Department with an environmental study when they were contacted by Beaumont Police Department requesting assistance in a manhunt in the north end of Beaumont. BPD was investigating a shooting and attempting to locate the suspects in the area of Tram Rd. and Broussard Rd. At the time of the incident the helicopter was staffed by a pilot/deputy of JCSO, two employees from the City of Beaumont and a consultant that were assisting in the environmental study. BPD requested immediate assistance, which did not allow the helicopter to return to the airport to pick up a second deputy as visual observer. The pilot asked the passengers if they would assist in the manhunt acting as the eyes in the sky. All passengers volunteered to assist in the mission. (Chapter 2 of the Criminal Code of Procedure allows peace officers to call citizens to aid in their duties, the release said.) The helicopter, upon arriving in the area, began searching for the suspects. The volunteer observers spotted the suspect vehicle attempting to exit the area. The helicopter directed the Beaumont Police units to the location of the moving vehicle. Beaumont Police was able to execute a felony stop on the vehicle and was able to take the first suspect into custody without incident. A second suspect was identified at this time. The helicopter volunteer observers were able to spot the second vehicle that was secreted behind a residence in the area. The helicopter with observers continued to give Beaumont Police Officers air cover as they approached the residence. A second subject was taken into custody without incident at this location.
Without the immediate response of the helicopter and assistance of these volunteers the suspects may have evaded arrest on this date and been a continued threat to our community, Sheriff Woods said.