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Prisoners assault guard, attempt escape

Micah Pickering
Leesville Daily Leader

Six inmates allegedly attempted to escape the Vernon Parish Jail, according to the VPSO. The inmates allegedly attempted the escape after assaulting a correctional officer on March 19th at approximately 9:24 p.m. 

The officer was performing his routine nightly duties, and the six inmates were not in their cells. The inmates were in an inner portion of the prison, according to the VPSO. The officer received only minor injuries during the incident. The VPSO stated that at no point were any of the six inmates in a position to escape the prison.

The following list contains the names of the inmates and their respective charges:

  1. Johnnie Smith, 28, Leesville, was arrested and charged with two counts of Felony Battery of a Correctional Officer, one count of Felony Criminal Conspiracy, and one count of Felony Attempted Simple Escape.

  2. Austin Cooley, 26, of Leesville, was arrested and charged with one count of Felony Criminal Conspiracy and one count of Felony Attempted Simple Escape.

  3. Eric Werndle, 28, of Shreveport, was arrested and charged with one count of Felony Criminal Conspiracy and one count of Felony Attempted Simple Escape.

  4. Seth Carson, 24, of Evans, was arrested and charged with one count of Felony Criminal Conspiracy and one count of Felony Attempted Simple Escape.

  5. Shelby Pickering, 41, of Pitkin, was arrested and charged with one count of Felony Criminal Conspiracy, one count of Felony Attempted Simple Escape, one count of Felony Aggravated Assault.

  6. Bruce Kraft, 19, of Leesville, was arrested and charged with one count of Felony Aggravated Assault.

The VPSO is actively investigating the incident.