‘All I know is I had him, and he wasn’t going to hurt my family.’
When Casey LeBlanc saw a man suspected of running from the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office about 200 yards ahead looking at him, he told him to stay put and kept his hand on a loaded shotgun.
“Dude, get on your knees. The cops are on their way,” LeBlanc shouted to him at the scene last Tuesday. “I told him ‘You’re not leaving.’”
The man was 27-year-old Kim Smith Jr. who had recently moved to the Bayou Gauche area. Smith, accused of indecent behavior with a juvenile, fled from the police.Smith had just relocated to the area from Destrehan.
“All I know is I had him,” LeBlanc said. “And he wasn’t going to hurt my family. That’s all I know.”
Having learned Smith’s description and the fact that Smith was last seen in the woods between LeBlanc’s residence and Green Acres, LeBlanc was keeping a keen watch for any sign of the fugituve.
“When I see how serious it looks like it’s getting, I loaded my shotgun and put it by me,” he said. “I kept myself where I was facing where he would come from.”
What convinced LeBlanc about the severity of the situation was the sight of deputies and detectives appearing in his yard, around his residence and at the edge of the woods along Grand Bayou searching for Smith. It was about 4 p.m. when deputies began searching the wooded area, and many of them returned muddied, sweating and fighting mosquitoes.
LeBlanc aided the search by jumping into his airboat and bringing a couple of deputies with him. However, they were unable to locate Smith.
“I believe they got false information that he had escaped and caught a ride with a girl, and was out of the area,” LeBlanc said.
The search was moved to another area and police left the scene.
But LeBlanc wasn’t sure Smith was gone.
He decided to secure his residence and equipment in case Smith tried to sneak out of the woods that night.LeBlanc was right.
“When I came to get the second four-wheeler, I saw him at the edge of the woods and he walked over to the levee to the Grand Bayou side,” he said. “He was coming my way. He was trying to use the levee to hide to get past my property.”
LeBlanc said he approached Smith and, along with several friends, cornered him. Smith maintained he was only trying to walk by, but LeBlanc told him that he knew Smith was on the run from police.
Smith appealed to him, asking he be allowed to go back into the woods.
“The kid asked for a cigarette so I gave him one and my lighter,” LeBlanc said. “I told him to smoke it as fast as he could because the police are coming.”
Smith told LeBlanc to shoot him.
Instead, LeBlanc tried to calm Smith down and told him that when the police showed up, it would all be over. LeBlanc kept a grip on his shotgun, but decided he’d shoot to wound
Smith only if the fugitive tried to escape.
“He was a felon and a fugitive,” LeBlanc said. “I’m not going to let him get past my yard and let my neighbors deal with it. At this point, you don’t know how desperate he is.”
Deputies soon arrived and started to cuff Smith, although he struggled by refusing to surrender his hands.
Now apprehended, LeBlanc observed Smith bragging about how he got past the police in the initial search.
But, after seeing the deputies in action, LeBlanc had a very different opinion about what happened.
“I really got to meet a lot of cops and I really got a feel for how much them guys care, and what they’re willing to do to protect us,” he said. “Those guys worked hard. They didn’t want to give up for nothing. They did an awesome job. They were really concerned about the neighborhood.”
When they relocated to another area in the search, LeBlanc said they apologized for not finding Smith.
“I wasn’t trying to be a hero,” LeBlanc said. “He came to me. I just kept watching my area and my property as one of the ways he could get out from. I don’t feel they didn’t do a good job. We did it together, and we got him before it got dark.”