Report from the Red River Sheriff’s Office for the week ending June 27, 2021.
Month: June 2021
Million Dollar Bond for Murder Suspect
A bond of $1,000,000 has been set for Joe Angel Tovar of Coushatta. Tovar was booked into the parish jail in connection with the shooting death of Devin D. Wilson.
Tovar faces charges of second degree murder, illegal carrying and discharge of weapons, and obstruction of justice. His total bond on the charges is one million dollars. Tovar is being held in the Red River Parish Jail.
Tovar was arrested in connection with the shooting death of Wilson early Monday morning June 21st. Wilson was shot in an apartment in Red River Estates on Jones street. Tovar was arrested following a manhunt in the area involving officers getting search warrants for several houses.
Here is the link to that Journal report: https://redriverparishjournal.com/2021/06/24/homicide-suspect-held-in-parish-jail/
DOTD advises motorists that repairs to the bridge on LA 155 north of Coushatta in Red River Parish are complete. The bridge has been reopened to traffic.
Recently the bridge failed an inspection and was closed for repairs. The closure began June 2nd and motorists had to find another route for almost a month.
This bridge is located approximately 2.5 miles north of the US 71 junction in Coushatta. The closure was necessary due to the condition of the bridge.
Coushatta Members Serve State Organizations
Several members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7287 and Auxiliary 7287 were installed last weekend into the leadership of the state VFW and Auxiliary. Both organizations met in convention at Alexandria.
Auxiliary 7287’s Ramel Fields was installed as State President of the Auxiliary. Her husband David Fields was installed as State Chaplin of the VFW Department of Louisiana.
Other members of the local veterans service organization were installed also. Heather McCoy was installed as Auxiliary Department Banner Bearer. Hailey Fields is the Auxiliary Department Patriotic Instructor. Jacob Fields was installed as Auxiliary Department Flag Bearer. And Dawn Brewer begins her year as the President of Auxiliary Department District 12.
In recent years, two members of Auxiliary 7287 have served as State Auxiliary President. They are Angelia McCoy and Susanne Wastlund. Wastlund serves as Past Department President, and she installed Fields as the 2021-22 President.
Get In Shape For Football
The Red River Bulldogs have published their summer workout schedule. Volunteer workouts begin July 1st. Mandatory sessions start July 19th.
The voluntary workouts that begin July 1st will be on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Lift and work with position coaches.
Mandatory workouts that begin Monday July 19th will run from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. All varsity players including incoming freshmen are expected to be at these workouts.
Local Students Offered Summer Camps by NSU
Northwestern State University has partnered with the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) to present three upcoming virtual summer camps for junior high students entering grades 6-8 and high school students entering grades 9-12 this fall. Registration is open to all junior and high school students.
Participants will work intensively with NSU faculty and undergraduate students in the areas of robotics, cybersecurity, and STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics). New this year is the addition of ACT preparation components in the Robotics and S.T.E.A.M camps, designed to help campers further prepare for success on up-coming ACT.
There is no cost to register or attend the virtual camps, but registration slots are limited and depend upon the availability of program funding. Campers will receive confirming emails once their registration has been approved. Campers will receive specialized no-cost Summer Camp Kits containing all the materials needed to learn-at-home in real-time throughout the summer.
NSU Robotics Camp + ACT Practice for Math and Science will take place July 12-16. Sessions for junior high students will be from 8 a.m.-noon. Sessions for high school students will be from 1-5 p.m.
NSU Cybersecurity Camp will be July 19-23. Sessions for junior high students will 8 a.m.-noon followed by high school student sessions from 1-5 p.m.
NSU STEAM + ACT Prep Camp will be July 26-30 with junior high sessions from 8 a.m.-noon and high school session from 1-5 p.m.
Register at lgusummercamps.osfa.la.gov/. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (225) 627-3814.
Shooting Sports Ambassador
A short time ago The Journal reported that Addison Bounds was being considered for the 4-H’s State Shooting Sports Ambassador. Bounds was selected.
Her mother posted, “Congratulations to Addison Bounds on becoming a Louisiana 4-h State Shooting Sports Ambassador. Her mom says that she cannot wait to see where this new journey will take her.”
Addison will attend her first Louisiana 4-H We Lead Conference July 14-16 for Leadership training and board planning.
Opening: Elementary School Librarian
The Red River Parish School Board is accepting applications for Red River Elementary School Librarian school.
Must hold a LA certified teacher endorsement or School Library Service.
Manages overall supervision of the school library.
Maintains library files, records, and inventory.
Prepares orders for media, materials, and supplies.
Develops and implements a continuing program of library use and understanding for students, teachers, and other interested persons.
Coordinates library use with teachers and administrators.
Keeps the library media current and meets the needs of the school with the available funds.
Keeps abreast of current trends in library media, materials, supplies and use.
Completes required reports accurately and within timelines.
Meets the requirements of Professional Development in Bulletin 1525.
You may submit applications at the Red River Parish School Board and at http://www.rrbulldogs.com. Deadline to submission is July 8 at 12pm.
For more information, you may contact Nicole Eason by email email@example.com or 318-932-4081 ext. 3.
Nicole M. Eason
Red River Parish School Board
Human Resources Department
Oscar at Sea
In May of 1941, several months before the United States officially entered World War II, Nazi Germany’s battleship Bismarck and a heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen scoured the Atlantic Ocean on a raiding mission to thwart Allied shipping between the United States and Great Britain. On May 24, the two ships entered into battle with two Royal Navy ships, the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Hood, nicknamed “the Mighty Hood,” in what is now referred to as the Battle of Denmark Strait.
The battle has been memorialized in books, songs, films, and other media including Johnny Horton’s 1960 hit song “Sink the Bismarck.” In the song, Johnny Horton sang that “The Bismarck was the fastest ship that ever sailed the sea, on her deck were guns as big as steers and shells as big as trees,” followed by the war cry “We gotta sink the Bismarck cause the world depends on us.”
Within the first ten minutes of the battle, one of the Bismarck’s “shells as big as trees” struck the Hood near one of its ammunition magazines. Within seconds, the Hood exploded with a violent shudder and sank. In less than thirteen minutes after the Hood fired its first shot, as Johnny Horton sang, “The Mighty Hood went down.” Only three of the Hood’s 1,418 sailors survived the sinking.
News of the Hood’s fate was devastating to British moral, but they soon rallied. The Royal Navy was determined to sink the Bismarck. It became their prime target. Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered all ships in the region to search for the Bismarck.
Within hours, the British fleet located the Bismarck. Bi planes from the Royal Navy’s Ark Royal dropped torpedoes on the Bismarck. The first torpedo struck the Bismarck but only caused minimal damage. The second torpedo struck near and jammed the Bismarck’s rudders. The Bismarck was unable to steer but kept moving in a large circle. The battle continued throughout the night and into the morning of May 27, 1941. Continuous attacks by several British ships destroyed the Bismarck’s guns. At 10:40 a.m., the Bismarck disappeared beneath waves. Of the 2,200 aboard, only 114 survived.
Hours after the sinking of the Bismarck, sailors aboard the British Ship Cossack saw Oscar sitting on a piece of floating wooden wreckage. Oscar was the only survivor of the Bismarck to be picked up by the British Ship.
At first, the sailors on the Cossack were unsure what to do with Oscar. They put Oscar, not in the brig, but in a room where they could keep a close eye on him. With each passing day, the crew gave Oscar more and more freedoms. Before long, Oscar was performing the same task on the Cossack for the Royal Navy that he had performed on the German Bismarck. He was working for his country’s enemy.
On October 23, 1941, the Cossack was escorting a convoy of ships from Gibraltar to the United Kingdom. Unbeknownst to the crew, a German submarine U-563 had spotted the ship. Without warning, an explosion rocked the Cossack. The German U-boat had fired a single torpedo and disappeared. The Cossack was damaged and unable to steer but stayed afloat. Two days later, a tugboat from Gibraltar arrived and towed the Cossack toward land. On the following day, October 26, a storm moved into the area. The tugboat was unable to keep the tow line attached to the Cossack in the high sea. On October 27, the Cossack floundered to the turbulent sea and sank into the Atlantic Ocean. 159 crew members died as a result of the ship’s sinking, but not Oscar. He was among those rescued by the HMS Legion. The Legion transported the survivors to Gibraltar.
The crew of the Cossack spoke so highly of Oscar that he was not jailed for being an enemy combatant but was put to work on the HMS Ark Royal aircraft carrier. Two weeks after Olive joined the Ark Royal, on November 13, a German U-boat fired a torpedo at the aircraft carrier. The explosion shook the ship. Several of the crew were launched into the ocean by the blast but only a single crew member died. It took nearly three hours for the Ark Royal to sink. In that time, the HMS Legion was able to rescue all of the Ark Royal’s crewmen. As had happened when the Bismarck sank, sailors found Oscar clinging to a floating board.
Oscar’s days at sea were over. For reasons which remain unclear, the Royal Navy transferred Oscar to the seamen’s home in Belfast, Ireland. Oscar never returned to Germany but stayed at the seamen’s home for the remainder of his life. From May until November 1941, Oscar had survived the sinking of three ships. His job in the German Navy and then in the British Navy was an important one, pest control. You see, Oscar was not a typical sailor. Oscar was…a cat.
- The Pittsburgh Press, May 27, 1941, p.18.
- The Vancouver Sun (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), May 27, 1941, p.1.
- The Morning Post (Camden, New Jersey), May 28, 1941, p.2.
- The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada), November 14, 1941, p.1.
- Royal Museums Greenwich. “Oscar, Cat from the German Battleship ‘Bismarck’.” Accessed June 21, 2021.collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/203480.html
Oppening: Fifth Grade Teacher
The Red River Parish School Board is accepting applications for 5th grade elementary school teacher. This teacher must hold a LA certified endorsement Pk-3, 1-8, 1-6, or 4-8 all subjects. You may submit applications at the Red River Parish School Board and at rrbulldogs.com.
For more information, you may contact Nicole Eason by email firstname.lastname@example.org or 318-932-4081 ext. 3.
Nicole M. Eason
Red River Parish School Board
Human Resources Department
Coushatta Man Faces Additional Charges
Additional charges of rape and juvenile molestation have been filed against Dennis Galen Halbmaier of Coushatta. He was arrested last April on similar charges. The latest arrest was made last week by Louisiana State Police. Halbmaier is being held without bond in the Red River Parish Jail.
On June 25th Halbmaier was charged with principal to molestation of a juvenile or a person with physical or mental disability (6 counts) and first degree rape (2 counts).
Here is the Journal’s report of Halbmaier’s first arrest:
An Independence Day Reflection
July 4th, 1776. The Declaration of Independence. It has been noted many times that the Declaration is the “promise” of America and the U.S. Constitution, the “fulfillment” of the promise of America.
In the Declaration, with those eternal, elegantly written words, Thomas Jefferson firmly declared the separation of the thirteen existing states of the United States from Great Britain—due to the “long train of abuses and usurpations” which Jefferson carefully and eloquently outlined that King George III had inflicted on the new American states. This was, of course, the official legal and diplomatic pronouncement to the King, Great Britain, and the world that the United States was formally and politically separating from Great Britain.
Jefferson then laid down an indelible principle for our country and the world: The statement of the “truths” that “all men are created equal” and that they are also “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
It is difficult to express how remarkable this idea was; a principle as profound as it is inspiring: the ideal—for which we as a nation will always strive—being government by consent of the governed which realizes that God, not government, is the source of all human rights and that what government does not give, government cannot take away.
Following faithfully the “promise” of the Declaration, the U.S. Constitution established a government charged with the sacred duty to ensure the inherent equality of all citizens regardless of race, gender, or socio-economic background.
And yes, America continues to be a work in progress as we strive to fully implement this fundamental principle grounded into the DNA of the Nation’s founding document: a nation in which, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would later expound, Americans are judged “based on the content of their character, not the color of their skin.” This principle of equality was and remains unprecedented in the history of the governments of nations.
I can do no better than to conclude with the final words of this magnificent document itself, which clearly reflect that the signers realized the grave danger to which they were exposing themselves by signing the Declaration, an act the British would no doubt view as treasonous:
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” (One of my favorite historical anecdotes is one involving one of the signers, John Hancock, who signed his name to the Declaration in a bold and conspicuously large way so that, he said, “the King could read my signature without his spectacles!”).
Have a happy and independent 4th of July! May God bless our great country.
Gabriel (Gabi) Bounds was awarded the National society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Award, Outstanding work in American History for her outstanding Courage, Honor, Integrity, Leadership, Honesty and Citizenship.
Thank you Kelley Taylor Lee and Karen Taylor Squires for presenting this amazing award to Gabi.
Submitted by Jana Bounds
July 4th Sale
Notice of Death – Jun 30th
Christopher “Chris” G. Bell
October 2, 1960 to June 26, 2021
Publication of the complete obituary with photo is available by contacting The Journal at 318-564-3609.
ETC… For Wednesday, June 30th
Independence Day, July 4th will be celebrated in many ways. But how will you and your family observe the birth of our great nation? Let the Journal know. Send lots of pictures. RedRiverParishJournal@gmail.com.
The Louisiana Folklife Center at Northwestern State University is sponsoring the 2021 NSU Folklife Concert Series, a series of six Saturday concerts in July and August. The concerts will highlight different folk musical traditions with a 45-minute music set followed by interviews with the musicians and an audience Q&A. Each performance will take place at 2 p.m. at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum at 800 Front Street in downtown Natchitoches. The concert series is free and open to the general public.
Dr. Christopher Lyles has been named director of the School of Biological and Physical Sciences at Northwestern State University effective July 1. His appointment has been approved by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System. Lyles has been interim director since 2019.
Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Coushatta announced that on Sunday, July 4th, Church will begin at 10:30 a.m.
Christopher G. “Chris” Bell
Funeral services for Christopher G. “Chris” Bell, 60, of Black Lake, LA will be at 10 A.M. Tuesday, June 29, 2021 at Rockett-Nettles Funeral Home Chapel with Bro. David Bolyer officiating and graveside by Deacon Tommy Robichaux. Interment will follow in Our Lady of the Rosary/Pardee Cemetery. Visitation will be from 6 P.M. until 8 P.M. Monday, June 28, 2021 at the funeral home.
Mr. Bell was born October 2, 1960 in Ringgold, LA and passed away June 26, 2021.
Bridge Repair Nearing Completion
Recently the state transportation department closed a bridge on the Ashland Road after the bridge failed routine inspection. That closure meant motorists had to detour through back roads.
On Thursday, Police Jury President Tray Murray notified the Journal that repairs are almost complete, and the bridge should be open soon. Murray said, “They are replacing 9 bridge supports. According to DOTD, they hope to finish tomorrow and have it inspected Saturday Morning. If all goes right they will reopen Monday morning.”
Murry said he and Parish Road Supervisor Larry Hughes met with them around noon Thursday at the bridge location. Thanks to Tray Murray for the pictures of the construction.
Homicide Suspect Held in Parish Jail
A shooting was reported in the early morning hours Monday in Red River Estates. One man was found dead in an apartment on East Riddle Street. A suspect was arrested and is being held without bond. The hunt for the suspect tied up traffic in Coushatta for several hours as two local houses were searched by multiple local and area law enforcement officers.
The Red River Sheriff’s Office issued this news release on Wednesday: On June 21, 2021, at approximately 3:33 a.m., Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office Communications received a call reporting gunshots at an apartment in Red River Estates located at 100 East Riddle Street in Coushatta. Patrol units with the Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office (RRPSO) and the Coushatta Police Department were dispatched and responded to the scene. Responding personnel located an individual inside the apartment in question that was unresponsive and appeared to be suffering from a fatal gunshot wound. The alleged shooter had fled the residence. Red River EMS also responded to the location and confirmed that the victim was deceased.
The Red River Parish Sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Division responded to the location to process the crime scene and begin the investigative process. The victim was subsequently identified as Devin D. Wilson, B/M, age 25, of Coushatta. He was pronounced deceased by the Red River Parish Deputy Coroner.
Sheriff’s investigators/crime scene personnel worked nonstop throughout the day to positively identify the suspect and gather evidence relative to the crime. In addition, his location was narrowed to two residential homes in the area. Search warrants for the locations were formulated and an arrest warrant was obtained in preparation for apprehending the individual responsible for the homicide.
Due to the nature of the crime, consideration that the suspect was armed with a firearm and the populated target locations, assistance was requested from other area law enforcement agencies who supplied additional tactical personnel and equipment. Our goal is always to effect the arrest without injury or harm to innocent civilians, law enforcement or the suspect. These agencies assisted Red River Parish Sheriff’s investigators and patrol deputies in executing the search/arrest warrants at approximately 2:00 p.m. on June 21, 2021. Both locations were only a short distance apart and located in Coushatta.
At 2:28 p.m. on June 21, 2021, Joe A. Tovar, H/M, age 26, who recently relocated to Coushatta from Minnesota, was taken into custody without incident. He was booked into the Red River Parish Jail on one count of Second- Degree Homicide. The investigation is ongoing. No bond has been set at this time and he remains incarcerated in the Red River Parish Jail. Anyone with information concerning this crime is encouraged to contact Red River Parish Sheriff’s Investigators at (318) 932-6701.
Red River Parish Sheriff Glen Edwards would like to acknowledge and thank the assisting area law enforcement agencies: Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator – Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Special Response Team, Bossier City Chief of Police Shane McWilliams – Bossier City Police Department’s Special Operations Services, U.S. Marshal Chief Deputy Jimmell Griffin – U.S. Marshall’s Violent Offenders Task Force and Chief Kevin Stafford – Coushatta Police Department.
Preparing for New Water System
The town of Coushatta is beginning a major upgrade of the water system. Mayor Johnny Cox told the Journal that pipe and other supplies are being stockpiled prior to work beginning.
The upgrade is a $7,000,000+ project funded by loans and grants the town has been working on securing for the past couple of years. Mayor Cox said this is just the first stage. The pipe is being stored at the Coushatta Community Center (the old trade school) in the industrial park.
Soon construction will begin to replace all of Coushatta’s old water lines. The system has needed a major upgrade for years. Cox said everything is being lined up for the construction to begin.
VFW Auxiliary Art Contest Winner
Each year Coushatta’s VFW Auxiliary conducts a local Patriotic Art Contest among local school children. The local first place finisher advances to district, state, and possibly national competitions.
The 2021 winner is Taylor Boulas, a senior at Red River High. His creation is “Caught My Eye” in color pencil and marker.
Boulas’ creation also caught the eye of judges at the VFW Department of Louisiana (state level), and it is being forwarded to the national level competition.
Department entries in the National Contest will be judged at National Headquarters and winners announced July 30. The contest, sponsored annually by the #VFWAuxiliary, recognizes up-and-coming artists and encourages patriotism in youth.
Boulas’ entry is eligible for a total of $31,500 in national scholarships to be awarded to ten (10) students with the first-place national winner receiving a $15,000 scholarship.
Awards for Red River Seniors
Seniors in the class of 2021 were recognized last week with honor and jumpstart graduates receiving their graduation cords. Traditionally the awards were made at graduation and or a special awards ceremony.
“I cannot tell you how proud I am of this class,” said JC Dickey, Red River High Principal, “I am thankful for this town and community and being at RRHS. I am excited that we have continued to raise our SPS year in and out. I am excited to think one day soon we maybe an ‘A’ school.”
The awards were handed out in the air-conditioned school auditorium, a great break from the heat outside. After the last award was presented, the students and faculty headed to the courtyard for a crawfish and burger lunch. Dickey said, “We wanted to let our seniors hang out one last time with their classmates and the faculty and staff they have spent four years with here at Red River High. This is what RRHS is all about, building relationships that will last forever.”
Graduation is tonight at the football stadium.
Teachers and Support Staff Honored
Ceremonies were held at each public school in the parish to honor teachers and support staffers who go above and beyond to serve their schools. And the Principal of the Year was honored also.
J.C Dickey was honored as the parish Principal of the Year for his service at Red River High. Also honored at the high school were Marco Reyes the Teacher of the Year and Rebecca Procell as Support Staff of the Year.
At Red River Junior High Gina Wimberly was honored as the Teacher of the Year and Wendy Harris was named Support Staff of the Year.
Jessica Korn received recognition as Red River Elementary School Teacher of the Year. Lastar Demery was selected as Support Staff of the Year.
And at Red River Academic Academy Teacher of the Year was Intha Fields. Jacqueline Richmond was named Support Staff of the year.
Parish School Superintendent Alison Hughes made the presentations at each of the schools.
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