Last Friday, the national and international press reported that a teenager with plans to fly a plane into the Cajundome during that night’s Hannah Montana concert performance had been apprehended in Nashville. The unnamed teen had been taken into custody at Nashville’s airport on Tuesday night after he rode on a flight from Los Angeles. CNN reported: “The teen wanted to crash the plane into a Hannah Montana concert in Lafayette, La., two CNN television affiliates in Nashville, WSMV and WTVF, reported, citing unnamed sources. The concert is scheduled for Friday night at the Lafayette Cajundome.”
It seemed highly unlikely, considering the teen was apprehended on Tuesday night, two days before the news was made public. Even Memphis-based FBI spokesman George Bolds told CNN the male teen intended to hijack a plane and to commit suicide but couldn’t say whether that night’s concert played any role.
The Associated Press picked up on the Hannah Montana angle as well and reported: “Nashville television stations, citing unnamed sources, said the teen unsuccessfully tried to hijack the plane to Lafayette, La., and crash it into a building where a ‘Hannah Montana’ concert was to be performed.”
Steve Krueger, the supervisory special agent for the FBI’s Lafayette and Lake Charles office, tells The Independent Weekly that the teen’s plan had nothing to do with the Hannah Montana concert, although he did intend to fly a plane into the Cajundome. “Understand that this scheme was developed by a very troubled 16-year-old kid,” Krueger says. “I think his plan was to fly the plane into the Cajundome, and I think an inference was made that he may be able to see the Cajundome better at night if there was a function going on. So I don’t know whether he specifically cared about flying it into the Cajundome when there was an event. His main motive was suicide.”
Krueger says the teen’s plan was to land in Nashville, take a plane to New Orleans, and catch a third flight westbound out of the city, which he would then hijack. “I think the media has done a lot to focus on Hannah Montana,” he says, “and it’s my understanding that Hannah Montana was never even mentioned. In other words, his desire to crash that plane into the Cajundome had absolutely nothing to do with Hannah Montana.”
The teen made no effort to hijack the plane from L.A. to Nashville, despite the initial reports. “As you begin to try to rationalize a 16-year-old’s plot, there are significant holes in it,” Krueger says. “The way he described it, it could never have happened. He would have never been able to take over the cockpit. I think the kid’s 105 pounds, soaking wet.”
The teen was raised in California but was a Louisiana native. “He was born in Louisiana,” Krueger says, “and he wanted to die in Louisiana.”
The boy pled guilty to a charge of a delinquent act in a juvenile court in Nashville on Friday and was to be sent to Los Angeles to face charges. The Hannah Montana concert, meanwhile, proceeded without incident.
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.