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An explosion lit up the sky at Camp Minden in Webster Parish around 5:00 this morning. The Louisiana National Guard reports a storage bunker filled with M6 propellant exploded. Crews have been working around the clock to destroy these explosives, which were improperly stored several years ago. Minden Representative Gene Reynolds says thankfully no one was injured.

“One of the bunkers out on the east side blew up where they were storing the materials, and they’re not sure right now exactly what happened to cause the explosion,” Reynolds said.

Explosive Service International is responsible for the destruction of all 15 million pounds of explosives being stored at Camp Minden. Reynolds says they were not surprised some of the explosives spontaneously went off.

“The material is getting old, and it’s becoming volatile, and so everybody understood that this was a possibility for one of these bunkers to explode at some point,” Reynolds said.

Louisiana State Police is conducting an investigation into the blast. Over 6.2 million pounds of the propellant has been destroyed since the operation began in April. Reynolds says he wouldn’t be shocked if this happened again before all the M6 has been destroyed.

“As the material gets older, it’s just chemistry, and it could happen again, and hopefully it’ll be in a bunker. We hope that it does not happen, but it will not surprise me,” Reynolds said.



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New data from the FBI finds Louisiana’s murder rate is once again higher than any other state in the country. The state recorded 10.3 murders per 100,000 people in 2015, a slight increase from 2014. Louisiana has had the highest murder rate in the country since 1989. Criminologist Dr. Peter Scharf with the LSU School of Public Health says the state’s high incarceration rate contributes to the large number of murders.

“People come out of jail, and in north Baton Rouge and New Orleans they often get absorbed back into the drug, dope, gun world, and this feeds the murderousness in the city,” Scharf said.

New Orleans has the highest rate in the state, followed by Monroe and Baton Rouge. And the Crescent City ranks 8th in the country for murder rates among major metropolitan areas. Scharf says there’s a national trend for increasing murder rates, but he believes Louisiana is leading the trend, not following it.

“When you’re the bottom in health, education, social welfare, child advocacy, you’re going to be high in murder. That’s just the way it is,” Scharf said.

Scharf says a murder costs the state between $1 million and $6 million. He says preventative measures are much more affordable than the costs of violent crimes.

“We can’t afford that. We don’t have the money to pay for the consequences of gun violence, and we have to avert it well before,” Scharf said.



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Congress approves legislation that contains $500 million in federal disaster assistance. About $400 million will go to Louisiana for flood relief. Republican Senator David Vitter says this is just a start, more federal aid is expected in December. He says this is great news for thousands of Louisianans struggling to recover from the historic flooding event.

“Over $2 billion has been appropriately requested, so I think this is a significant and important down payment toward completing that in December.”

Vitter says the other $100 million of aid will assist other states with natural disaster damage. He says his colleagues from other parts of the country had a hard time understanding the level of destruction that took place in Louisiana.

“It’s a big, big event, a 100,000 year flood. Most members from other states had no idea because of the lack of adequate reporting by the national media. I think we’ve overcome that.”

Vitter says this money should first go to homeowners who were not in the flood zone and received water damage. He says it’s not uncommon for a middle to low class family to have over $100,000 of uninsured damages.

“Not because they did anything wrong, not because they were negligent not getting flood insurance, but because they were way outside of a flood zone.”

It will be up to the Restore Louisiana Taskforce to determine where flood relief dollars will go.



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The body cam video has been released of the police shooting that left a 6-year-old autistic boy dead in Marksville last November. The graphic video shows deputy city marshal Derrick Stafford firing into a vehicle, where Jeremy Mardis was seated in the passenger seat. Legal analyst Tim Meche says it doesn’t look good for Stafford.

“This particular video appears to be the most outrageously unjustified shooting that we have seen thus far,” Meche said.

Prosecutors showed the tape in court Wednesday to show Stafford has a history of excessive force. Meche says the video probably would have been released sooner, if there was more media attention around the incident.

“This is evidence in the case. It should have been released a long time ago,” Meche said.

The father, Christopher Few, was critically wounded in the shooting. Defense attorneys have said Few rammed his car into the deputy’s vehicle before he fired, but Meche says the video does not show the vehicle used as a weapon at the time of the shooting.

“We apparently have a clear case of police overstepping their bounds,” Meche said.



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A Bossier Parish School Board committee has decided not to let MTV film a TV show at two of their schools. School Board member Dennis Bamburg is the chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee and he says Barcroft Productions wanted to film three students, because they have chosen to practice abstinence.

“This particular production company has covered some very controversial subjects, and it just felt like something that we didn’t really want to get involved in,” Bamburg said.

Barcroft has produced shows like Young, Trans and In Love, Inside the Ku Klux Klan, and Body Bizarre. Bamburg says the show would have supposedly centered on the students decision to be celibate, but they didn’t believe that’s how it would air on MTV.

“With the controversy of their other productions that they’ve put together, we just felt uncomfortable about how this one may be spun once it gets out, and we’d have no control over that,” Bamburg said.

Bamburg says anything that uses school facilities has to come before the committee. He says the school system doesn’t want any part of the show, because the movie industry and schools don’t mix.

“I’m just not sure we want to join those two entities. The movie industry probably doesn’t fit with sometimes character morals of a school system,” Bamburg said.



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State Superintendent of Education John White is eager to make changes to the way public schools are rated as a way to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act. The federal law targets increasing student achievement. White says Louisiana is developing a plan to be approved by the federal government by next year. And one of their ideas is fewer standardized tests.

“Have proposed a dramatic reduction of state testing, in particular at the high school level, by moving from two groups of tests, for high school students, to one group of tests.”

White says to reduce testing they are requiring that state testing never take up more than 2 % of all instructional minutes in a school year. He says they are addressing that Louisiana students too often graduate without the fundamental skills necessary to succeed in college or the workplace.

“We therefore in this framework, have included an increased set of expectations for what’s expected upon graduating and for what’s expected for a school to receive an “A” in the accountability system.”

White says the framework also proposes that the accountability system do more to honor the progress of all students, even if the student doesn’t receive high marks. He adds schools need particular support in identifying specific learning needs early.

“Such as dyslexia, disabilities, and giftedness. We propose here to support them in doing that, to use funds to support them in doing that, and to reward them when they do it.”



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Governor John Bel Edwards tells the Restore Louisiana Task Force they have the important job of helping flood victims get back on their feet. The task force, which was appointed by the governor, is in charge of determining how federal flood recovery dollars will be spent. The state could receive billions of dollars and Edwards says it must be used appropriately.

“The bottom line is we’ve got to help families displaced by the flood to make the viable decision as soon as possible to return home,” Edwards said.

President Barack Obama has asked Congress to approve $2.6 billion for Louisiana’s flood recovery. Edwards says early estimates show there was $8.7 billion in damage from the August flood, and that doesn’t include public infrastructure. He says another 29,000 homes were damaged in the March flood. He says the task force has to do something to help these people.

“We’re not just moving people home, but we’re going to move people home and do it in such a way that they are less likely in the future to flood,” Edwards said.

There’s legislation up for debate in the Senate that would provide $500 million in federal flood aid for multiple states. Edwards says it is likely Louisiana will receive the bulk of Community Development Block Grant Funding in the lame duck session after the November election.

“I don’t want you all to focus so much on what’s going on with Congress. I want you to focus on what we’re going to do for the people of Louisiana, and the Congressional delegation is going to make sure that we get the assistance that we need,” Edwards said.



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Around the country there have been many sightings of creepy clowns and now the trend has reached Louisiana. Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz says a group of elementary aged students claimed to see clowns in the woods behind their school. He says it turned out to be a hoax after the kids saw stories online, but authorities are taking incidents like this very seriously.

“This may seem like a school yard prank and may sound like fun but if you disrupt the safe learning environment of our kids, we will use every law at our disposal to charge you criminally, up to and including terrorizing.”

Another clown sighting was reported at a Morgan City business Tuesday night. Capt. Betty Augman says by the time officers arrived on the scene, no one was found wearing a costume but they will investigate all complaints involving creepy clowns.

“If anyone is caught in a clown mask or wearing makeup or anything thing, they are subject to arrest.”

The clerk at the Paulina Matherne’s supermarket where the clowns were spotted says she is scared of the clowns returning, because you never know the mindset of the people dressed up.

“I really hope they don’t because I’m watching the door because I’m running if they do come.”

(photo courtesy of St. James Parish Sheriff's Office Facebook)


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Three people are dead, including a West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Deputy, following a double murder-suicide in Point Coupee parish. Point Coupee Sheriff Bud Torres says a gunfight erupted yesterday afternoon between Deputy Donna LeBlanc and her neighbor, 29-year-old Gregory Phillips. Torres says the deadly shootings took place in the deputy’s yard.

“Mr. Phillips shot and killed Deputy LeBlanc and then turned the weapon on her 21-year-old daughter, Carli, and then went to the front of the house and turned the weapon on himself,” Torres said.

Phillips, LeBlanc, and 21-year-old Carli LeBlanc were pronounced dead. Torres says they are still not sure exactly how the gunfight began, but the relationship between LeBlanc and her neighbor was strained.

“There was never, to my knowledge or to our knowledge at this point, any altercation until this time, but it was not a pleasant relationship,” Torres said.

LeBlanc is married to a Louisiana State Trooper, and their 9-year-old daughter reported the incident. The deadly gunfight reportedly occurred on LeBlanc’s day off while her husband was at a training exercise. Torres says investigators spent over 9 hours processing the scene, and the investigation is ongoing.

“We’re still processing the scene. We are still waiting on toxicology and autopsy, and pending the results of that we will be able to conclude our investigation into this matter,” Torres said.



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Authorities in St. Tammany parish are asking for the public’s help in identifying a mutilated body that was dumped on Highway 90 near the Rigolets. Police say the murder victim was found in late July, and they believe the victim may have been a transient with ties to Biloxi. Coroner Dr. Charles Preston says the autopsy results were gruesome.

“This person died of blunt force trauma to the head and face, had multiple skull fractures and multiple facial fractures. The body was horribly dismembered, missing both arms and one extremity,” Preston said.

Preston says they ran a phenotype DNA analysis to get an idea of what the victim may have looked like, because his body was badly decomposed. He says they believe the man is over 65-years-old, of European and Middle Eastern descent, and has a fair complexion.

“He was not very, very dark or black. We are able to predict an eye color that is likely brown. We’re able to predict a hair color as being light to dark brown,” Preston said.

Preston says the victim has a scar from an open heart surgery and had blood pressure medications in his system. St. Tammany Sheriff Randy Smith says the first step in solving the case is identifying the deceased victim.

“This gentleman is somebody’s loved one that’s been missing for over two months, and we’re asking the community to come forward with any information that can help us in this investigation and identify this victim,” Smith said.

Authorities have released a computer sketch of the victim and anyone with information is urged to call the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s office, or call CrimeStoppers at (504) 822-1111 to remain anonymous.



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Sweater weather is coming to Louisiana as the first cold front of the Fall has made its way to Louisiana. State Climatologist Barry Keim says this front has really lowered the humidity. And low temperatures will reach the mid 50s later this week in north Louisiana and the low 70s in southeast Louisiana.

“And that might not sound like a lot but New Orleans, for example, they had many, many days this summer when the minimum was 80 or above, which is just mind blowing.”

Keim says this beautiful weather, with no rain in sight, will remain in place through the weekend and maybe into early next week. He says this cold front came through a little bit late, as we typically see these fronts in the beginning or middle of September.

“The pump coming off the Gulf of Mexico has just been in place and the Bermuda high has just been pushing that very warm, moist air into the state of Louisiana and it’s been a very, very uncomfortable summer.”

By the end of the week, low temperatures will be in the 50s for most of the state. Keim says this cool, dry air coming in from Canada is keeping the temperature down over the next few days into the weekend.

“The weekend is just shaping up to be absolutely glorious to usher in a new era of LSU football, so it’s going to be amazing, the tailgating is going to be amazing.”

(photo courtesy of Flickr)  


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The continuing resolution that contains money for flood relief efforts in Louisiana is tied up in politics, and the clock is ticking before Congress’ fall recess. US Senator Bill Cassidy says they’re going back and forth because Senate Democrats want funding for the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, in the spending bill as well.

“Mitch McConnell has now filed a substitute bill, if you will, that doesn’t have money for flood and doesn’t have money for Flint either. I think Democrats are also going to vote against that bill,” Cassidy said.

The $500 million flood aid package contains dollars earmarked for 16 states. Cassidy says a separate bill for Flint funding passed the Senate, but not the House. He says they’re still trying to figure out what it will take to get the continuing resolution approved in both houses.

“What Senate Democrats want is some assurance that the House of Representatives will pass the companion bill, and if they don’t get that reassurance, then they want the continuing resolution to have both flood and Flint,” Cassidy said.

Congress is set to recess for the November election on Friday at midnight. Cassidy says he is confident that assistance will be approved for Louisiana flood victims. But he says the question remains as to when that aid will come to the Bayou State.

“What I don’t know is whether or not he first pot of money will come this week, next week, or whether all the money will come in about 8 or 9 or 10 weeks when we come back after the election,” Cassidy said.



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The state Republican Party claims Governor John Bel Edwards is using the flood to raise money for his re-election campaign. Executive Director of the Louisiana GOP, Jason Dore, says the governor attended a fundraising event one night during one of his trips to Washington, D.C., to get more federal aid for flood victims.

“I think that it shows he had a split focus. He wasn’t singularly focused on bringing back recovery for Louisiana and making sure that we are made whole and that FEMA is held accountable for all of its actions,” Dore said.

But the governor’s Communications Director, Richard Carbo, says the event was held at night, after a long day of fighting for federal assistance. He says no state dollars went towards the reception event for the fundraiser.

“He took it a step further and paid for his accommodations through his campaign. So he’s being very transparent about it and being very responsible with the taxpayer funds,” Carbo said.

Dore also says Edwards has not been hard enough on FEMA regarding their delayed response to flood victims.

“The governor has taken the positon of defending FEMA and promoting their response, but there’s a lot lacking according to the people that have been having to deal with FEMA’s response every day,” Dore said.

Dore claims Central Mayor Jr. Shelton had to go through a Congressman to get more flood relief supplies. Carbo says there are many different ways to go about getting more assistance, and Shelton just chose another route and has been complimentary of the governor’s response.

“He’s been very complimentary of the governor’s response to the flooding. They’re mischaracterizing what the mayor has said, and there’re definitely processes that are in place,” Carbo said.



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As the November 8 election draws closer, more and more candidates for US Senate are taking their campaigns to the airwaves. State Treasurer John Kennedy aired his first commercial during last night’s Saints game. Jeremy Alford of LaPolitics.com says it was unusual that the ad was a full 60 seconds.

“We usually see candidates stick to this 30 second format. Kennedy doubled that with a single buy during an expensive time frame, and this is a guy that’s going to have cash to compete, and now that he’s up on TV, he’s going to stay on TV,” Alford said.

Alford says the commercials are helping candidates introduce themselves to voters, many for the first time. Republican businessman Abhay Patel airs his first commercial today. Alford says the debates will solidify some positions on policy issues, but that poses a problem in such a crowded field.

“You’ve got an hour dedicated to a debate. If you put 24 people up on stage, it’s not going to give you much of a preview of where these folks stand,” Alford said.

Congressman John Fleming is also running a new ad. Alford says we’ll likely see more ads from candidates attacking their opponents in the near future. He says Kennedy will likely be a target, given the lead he had in the beginning of the race.

“There’s the perception that John Kennedy is sitting on a good number of votes, and they’re going to have to whack him pretty good to shake some of those loose,” Alford said.



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Political experts say last night's presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is one of the most bizarre ever at that level of politics. LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says it's due, in part, to the sharp personal jabs they took at each other.

He says there was also an unusual lack of actual substance in the debate.

"There was a lot of talk about each others personal finances," said Hogan. "But not a lot about what policy proposals they each would favor."

Hogan says he doesn't feel there was a clean winner in the debate, but it seems as though Clinton presented a better case to support her position. He says Trump seemed to have difficulty making his points clear to the public -- but he's staying true to his style.

"The one liner zingers and his desire to only speak in very general terms," said Hogan.

Hogan says both candidates played the roles a lot of people anticipated they would. He says they both often cut each other off and, as we've seen from Trump in the past, the GOP candidate mostly gave way to rants.

"I think that Hillary Clinton handled it quite well given that this is far different, really, than any other debate we've ever seen out of two major nominees," said Hogan.


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Bayou Country Superfest announces the 8th annual music festival with be held in New Orleans at the Mercedes Benz Superdome over the 2017 Memorial Day Holiday. Producer and Director of the Superfest Quint Davis says the three-day concert will start with a free and open to the public concert on Friday, May 26th in Champions Square. He says they want this to be the new country superfest in every way.

“So we’re going to have more talent than we’ve had before and more headline talent on any given night than we’ve had before.”

The lineup and ticket details will be announced on December 1st. Davis says LSU and Tiger Stadium were always welcoming to the Superfest and will forever be the father of the festival. He says now that the festival is indoors, there is more opportunity to get creative with lighting.

“Because of it having a roof, we’re able to create productive value with hanging things from the roof in the stage we had at Tiger Stadium.”

Davis says the Superdome was the only other location in that state which could hold over 40,000 concert-goers. He says visitors have access to more than 35,000 hotels rooms within walking distance of the festival.

“After the show, the French Quarter is across the street. It’s what New Orleans is known for, having a big party, having the top infrastructure for a major national event.”



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Three strippers are suing the state over the new law that requires dancers in clubs to be at least 21-years-old. Legal analyst Tim Meche doesn’t think the suit will be successful because challenges to the federal drinking age requirement were struck down.

“Generally government has a right to regulate activities of those of a certain age,” Meche said.

The suit also claims the law is sexist and would not apply to men because exotic dancers are defined as “entertainers whose breasts or buttocks are exposed to view” in the law. Meche doesn’t think that claim will go far in the courtroom.

“The other novel theory that this only applies to females and not males is a very innovative claim. I admire the person who came up with that,” Meche said.

The dancers, identified as Jane Doe I, II, and III, allege that the law violates their First Amendment right to free expression, in the form of erotic dance. State Alcohol and Tobacco Control officers plan on enforcing the new law on October 1st. Meche doesn’t think the dancers will win the law suit.

“I don’t think it’s going to be successful ultimately,” Meche said.



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Five weeks after the historic flooding in south Louisiana, many people still have debris piled up in their front yards. Spokesperson for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Mike Steele, says crews have hit the 55% mark for completion of debris removal.

“There was an estimated 4.8 million cubic yards, or about 80,000 truckloads, of debris left after the flooding in August,” Steele said.

Steele says crews have been hard at work for the past several weeks, and it will likely be a few more weeks before all the debris has been removed. He says they are asking the public to be patient.

“A lot of times they’re on some of the main corridors for people trying to get back and forth to work. So we’re asking the public to be patient, be safe around these vehicles, and just give the crews time to help up get this done,” Steele said.

Steele says they have more crews working now, so hopefully the second half of the cleanup will go faster than the first. He says they are asking people to sort their debris into different categories to make the cleanup process easier.

“They want to make sure that people continue dividing it up into categories like household garbage, construction debris, vegetative debris, household hazardous waste, and also electronics,” Steele said.



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As thousands of residents in south Louisiana continue to put the pieces of their life back together, it feels to many like this nightmare will never end. But former Governor Kathleen Blanco says one of her biggest takeaways from Hurricane Katrina is that people in Louisiana are fighters, and they don't give up.

"We live in this magnificent land that has now presented us with severe challenges," said Blanco. "But it's a place that we love."

Blanco says last night's game in the Superdome was a reminder about how resilient communities can be, as it was 10 years ago that New Orleans got a rebirth when the facility reopened for the first time since the storm. She says we will recover from this.

"All of the people who got flooded will find that point where they can recreate their lives," said Blanco.

Blanco encourages residents to keep their heads held high, because this too shall pass. She says the "new normal" will be better in many ways.

"They will have lost things that give them pain," said Blanco. "But at the same time if they can survive the flooding they can survive the rebuilding."



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For the second consecutive year, the Saints start their season with three consecutive losses. New Orleans lost to Atlanta 45-32 Monday night.
The game started well as the Saints jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but the game turned when De'Vante Harris ran over returner Tommylee Lewis, causing a muffed punt and giving Atlanta the ball on the New Orleans 11-yard line.

Three pays later, the Falcons scored its first touchdown of the game to tie the score at 7.
New Orleans banged up defense couldn't slow down Atlanta for much of the game. The Falcons rushed for 217 yards. Devonta Freeman rushed for 152 yards and also had 52 yards receiving.
Atlanta QB Matt Ryan threw for 240 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked twice and did not turn the ball over.
Saints QB Drew Brees threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns. He was intercepted once. Former LSU Tiger Deion Jones caught a tipped pass and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown.
New Orleans will look for its first win this Sunday at San Diego.  


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