4 of 5 violent juveniles recaptured after escaping through attic, crashing stolen truck

Growing concerns about the Bridge City Youth Center
Growing concerns about the Bridge City Youth Center
Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 10:20 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 17, 2022 at 4:18 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Five violent youth offenders escaped Thursday morning from the Bridge City Center for Youth, officials say.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office says it was notified through 911 calls that the five, ages 16 to 18, escaped around 4:40 a.m. on March 17. Officials say there was “human error” involved and that the teens got into the attic and escaped off the roof.

Residents who live in Bridge City and Harahan reportedly received automated messages from the facility, alerting them of the escape.

Four of the escapees were recaptured after allegedly stealing a truck in Jefferson Parish and leading officers on a chase. Officials say just before 1 p.m., the stolen truck flipped over in Opelousas. One offender remains at large and is believed to be on foot in the area.

Keenan Grice, 32, as well as Bryson Lemelle, 18, and four juveniles were captured without incident. The two adults were booked into the St. Landry Parish Jail. The four juveniles were released back into the custody of the Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ).

The remaining escapee is identified as Curtis Tassin, 16, with a history of violence. He is considered to be armed and dangerous. You’re asked to call 911 if you see him or know anything about his whereabouts.

Curtis Tassin remains at-large after five violent offenders escaped a juvenile facility in New...
Curtis Tassin remains at-large after five violent offenders escaped a juvenile facility in New Orleans.(Crime Stoppers)

Tassin escaped from the Swanson Correctional Facility near Monroe last summer, according to police. He, along with Tre’veon Jackson and Brandt Bennett climbed a fence, officials said. Tassin and Bennett were later found in Lafourche Parish.

People who live near the facility say enough is enough.

“I’m afraid. My daughters, my grandchildren are afraid to come back there,” one resident said.

An automated message from the facility reached some, not all nearby residents and some say it was hours too late.

“They have free reign and they just cut through all the yard and we don’t know what’s going on and we’re never notified,” a resident told FOX 8.

Last November, three teens, including Damarion Simmons, escaped the facility early on a Sunday (Nov. 21) morning. All three were recaptured over two weeks later.

“Why one, two, and now five boys escape every other month,” the resident asks. “What is going on in the facility?”

Bill Sommers, deputy secretary of the OJJ, admits there have been too many escapes.

“This was another time when we failed,” he says. “We’ve got to get better. Our staff’s got to get better. Our supervisor team needs to get better. I need to get better.”

Simmons, 16, was transferred to a juvenile detention facility in St. Martinville after the fact, where he escaped again in January and stole a vehicle and guns. He was recaptured a second time two days later near his home in New Roads.

People near the facility say they live in fear of when this will happen again, not if.

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