Returning home from a business trip to Alexandria yesterday afternoon, I noticed some excitement going on at the Citizens Bank in Pine Prairie– a couple of Evangeline
Parish Sheriff’s units were parked in the lot alongside a local TV news vehicle. “Whoa!” thought I, but then I chuckled to myself as I considered that for once, it’s safe to drive faster than 45 through town since the Pine Prairie local yokel cop, whose customary occupation is running a radar speed trap on the highway, would be preoccupied with whatever was going on in that bank. Amused, I drove on.
I stopped about 6 miles down the road at the Y Not Stop truck stop to fuel up the university fleet vehicle I was driving. As I pulled up to the pump and got out, I noticed a pickup at the next island. I young woman smiled politely in a friendly manner as we briefly made eye contact, and I went about my business. Immediately, though, I noticed I had parked on the wrong side of the pump to get to the car’s gas cap, so somewhat irked, I decided to go into the station and use the restroom before I moved the car around to another pump to complete the fill-up.
Inside the station, another guy walked into the restroom before me, so I had to wait. In the lobby at the same time I passed a young man with a little girl by the hand. I overheard briefly his question to the little girl, seemingly his daughter: “You can’t wait till we get home?”
“Chere baby,” thought I. He put her into the ladies’ room and told her he’d wait right outside the door until she came out. A moment or two later, I got to get into the men’s room and was shortly on the way back to the pumps to move the car to the other side. Just as I was getting into the car, a sheriff’s unit pulled into the driveway and stopped perpendicular to the front of the pickup where the young woman sat. At the same time, a second sheriff’s squad car maneuvered into the lot and parked perpendicular to the rear of the pickup. Whoa! Obviously, some kind of intrigue was brewing.
I was in a hurry to move then, so I drove around to a pump on the far side of the lot and began fueling. I overheard one of the sheriff’s deputies calling out, “M’am” as I saw the young woman in the pickup walking toward the store. They motioned her to come back and stay. I couldn’t see everything that was going on because several cars were between me and all this unfolding drama, but the plot thickened when the young man with the little girl in the store came out with the little girl walking alongside. He had an Icee drink in each hand, presumably one for him and one for his wife. The sheriff’s deputies met him and began a conversation. I could see little and hear less, but after a minute or two, an unmarked SUV with blue lights flickering in the grill came racing in from the north. The lawman in that vehicle swirled into the station lot and joined the two sheriff’s deputies. Shortly, the business-like questioning and conversation that had seemed to be going on escalated. Again, I could not see clearly and heard less, but an obvious scuffle erupted and the lawmen ended up taking down the young man. When they got him up, he was handcuffed and was getting tucked into the back seat of one of the squad cars.
I’ve been following the news to find out exactly what I witnessed, and the connection to the bank robbery in Pine Prairie seems pretty firm. KLFY-TV is running a piece this morning that sheds more light. I’ll be following this story with interest in the days to come.
Moral of the story? Hmmmm . . . you just never know what people you casually rub shoulders with in the public are going through. Here was a normal-looking family, getting gas and Icee’s and taking a potty break at the filling station, but my, what disturbing secrets lurked beneath the surface! Since the husband and wife were both arrested, I also wonder what happened to the little girl who witnessed the scene. That’s the most disturbing part of the drama, which overall was very unsettling. I’d rather not be so close to criminal investigations.