Trial: Surviving brother in Liberty Arsenal shooting managed to call 911 moments after being shot

Second-degree murder trial for Laquarus Augustine underway in Rapides Parish courthouse
The first state witnesses were called this afternoon for the bench trial for Laquarus Augustine, 25, of Alexandria.
Published: May. 2, 2023 at 4:27 PM CDT
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RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - Michael Paul, who was shot multiple times during an attempted robbery at his brother’s gun store, Liberty Arsenal, was able to call 911 minutes after the two were attacked. David Paul didn’t survive. A pathologist testified on Tuesday, May 2, that she recovered five bullets from his body.

That testimony is part of a bench trial underway in the Rapides Parish Courthouse for Laquarus Augustine, 25, of Alexandria. Augustine is charged with second-degree murder and attempted armed robbery for his alleged role in the deadly shooting on May 7, 2021. Another co-defendant, Ramonte Jackson, 24, of Alexandria, was the shooter. Jackson is currently serving a life sentence plus 50 years for a plea last year. Prosecutors alleged Augustine drove Jackson to the store in Jackson’s black Jeep Cherokee to commit a robbery and waited in the Jeep for him.

Assistant District Attorney Lea Hall gave an outline during opening arguments of how the day unfolded. He said it started with Augustine and Jackson going to Liberty Arsenal earlier in the day because Jackson was looking for a magazine. Hall said testimony would reveal that Jackson began to hatch a plot to come back and rob the store.

“As they were in the store, Mr. Jackson said along the lines of to Mr. Augustine, ‘Do you think it’s just these two in here?’” said Hall, referencing the Paul brothers. Hall said he learned this information from a statement Augustine gave after being arrested.

After inquiring about the magazine, the pair left. But, Hall said the conversation continued.

Hall said video surveillance would pick up the black Jeep Cherokee pulling into a nearby neighborhood and Augustine getting into the driver’s side. According to Hall, the plan was for Jackson to go back into Liberty Arsenal and say that his magazine was not working properly as a distraction. Jackson was also going to carry a pistol inside.

Hall said Jackson told Augustine “precisely what he wants to do.”

Hall said video surveillance from Liberty Arsenal would pick up the pair back outside the store with the passenger door remaining open. As Hall described it to the court, Jackson took the pistol and shot the brothers “repeatedly.” Thirteen .45 caliber casings were recovered.

“It is repeated,” said Hall. “He (Jackson) shoots both men over and over and over.”

David was armed with a Glock. But, he was killed before he uses it. Michael also had a weapon. Jackson ran out and then came back in.

“(He) continues to fire over the counter and into his victims,” said Hall. Michael Paul managed to shoot, but we are not sure how many times.

“It is only those actions (of Michael) that stopped Jackson from getting what he wanted,” said Hall.

Hall told the court that the two fled the scene and that Augustine was eventually picked up in Monroe and gave a statement to police. Hall said part of that statement involved Augustine saying that when Jackson ran out the first time, he went to the Jeep and reloaded.

“The court will be utterly convinced Mr. Augustine is principle to second-degree murder,” said Hall.

Augustine’s public defender, James Word, told the court during his opening arguments that “there was no specific intent for robbery, theft or killing.” Word claimed that Augustine was “ordered” by Jackson to drive to Liberty Arsenal.

“If Mr. Augustine would have tried to stop him, Ramonte would have killed him,” said Word.

Some of the most impactful and important testimony came from Michael Paul, who witnessed the crime and was a victim to it. Michael told the court that David was his youngest brother, and while David owned the gun store, Michael was in the flea market business. Together, they ran Liberty Arsenal.

He barely remembers the day his brother was murdered and that he nearly died.

“I have no recollection,” he testified.

Michael said he had three bullets removed from him and five are still inside. He spent two months in the ICU and was in a coma for a bit. The shooting made his kidneys fail.

What he does remember is the 911 call he placed minutes after the shooting. That call was played for the court.

“I’ve been shot! David has been shot! We’ve been shot multiple times!” he shouted to the 911 operator.

Michael was able to give a brief description of two Black men who were in the store earlier in the day. He estimated them to be in their mid-20s.

“Hurry up! I’m bleeding out. Hit five or six times. Oh god. Oh god!” he moaned on the call.

The 911 operator and Acadian Ambulance tried to get as much information from Michael as possible while he was conscious. He said the two men in the store earlier in the day were inquiring about a magazine. He said there was one shooter.

Michael said his legs, stomach and arms had been shot. He thought his brother was already dead.

“He’s not breathing,” he told the 911 operator. “Please hurry! Oh god! It hurts!”

At one point, he asked if the operator can get in touch with David’s wife and give instructions on how to reach her. Moments later, the first Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy was on the scene - Deputy Frank White. White cleared the building. An ambulance was just moments behind.

During cross-examination, defense co-counsel Chris LaCour asked if Michael is able to identify the people who were in the store. Michael said he can not because the memories were cloudy.

After Paul got off the stand, LaCour asked for a mistrial. This was following a motion that was heard before the trial started related to an indictment amended by the Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office of Augustine’s charges, which the prosecutor is allowed to do. LaCour argued that when Hall amended the bill of information from a prior prosecutor, while the charges did not change, language in the document did. LaCour believed it should go back to the grand jury. Judge Greg Beard denied the motion and then also later denied the mistrial.

Testimony continues on Wednesday, May 3. The case is also being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Doggett, Jr. Judge Greg Beard is presiding.

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