A Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office inmate who walked away from a work detail at Concordia Parish courthouse on Feb.20 attempted to carjack a vehicle at Wal-Mart in Vidalia before being apprehended at United Mississippi Bank 10 minutes after escaping.
Concordia Parish Correctional Facility Warden Lance Moore said inmate Matthew Morgan, 54, of Rapides Parish was on a work detail cleaning up the parking lot at the courthouse where he was being held when he walked off the job.
After being apprehended, Morgan attempted to commit suicide by cutting his wrist with part of a razor in a holding cell, but CPSO officials administered first aid. Morgan was transferred to St. Dominic's Hospital in Alexandria.
Concordia Parish Chief Deputy David Hedrick said the sheriff’s office immediately issued an all points bulletin (APB) after Morgan was noticed missing.
Hedrick said Morgan had acquired a box cutter and walked over to a car at Wal-Mart where a lady was sitting with the door open.
"He put the box cutter to her throat and threatened her to move over to the passenger seat," Hedrick said. "She refused to move and he took her out of the car and walked her around to the passenger side. There were some ladies nearby who overheard what was going on and thought it was a domestic incident. They put themselves between the inmate and the victim. They and the victim are true heroes."
Louisiana State Trooper Mark Davis was first on the scene and saw the inmate going into United Mississippi Bank. Davis recognized him from the APB.
Vidalia Police Chief Joey Merrill and Assistant Police Chief Dennis Cowan were right behind Davis.
"I had just left a Lion's Club meeting when we heard the call and was right there," Merrill said. "We happened to be at the right place at the right time. Mark ran into the bank and we were right behind him to apprehend him."
Davis then apprehended Morgan and took him back into custody, with the help of Merrill and Cowan.
“I would like to commend Chief Joey Merrill and his officers and the Louisiana Trooper Mark Davis for their actions in making a swift arrest," Hedrick said. "They were on the ball, stepped up and took care of business.”
Moore said Morgan had been in the Concordia Parish Correctional Facility for approximately eight months where he was serving a four-year sentence for violating parole when he was caught with a firearm. He was charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
Morgan faces charges of attempted second-degree kidnapping, attempted carjacking and simple escape.
“Those are all felonies,” Moore said. “He is a past offender. He could be looking at a lot of time.”
Hedrick said the CPSO is reviewing its policies and procedures to improve security and keep these types of incidents from happening again.
"And this is why we have the offender's programs in a prison, and why we also have other programs such as self-defense for women," Hedrick said.
He also said all inmates working in or outside of the courthouse are now in uniform.
Police Jury President Jimmy Wilkinson said the Jury sent a letter to the sheriff’s office on Monday requesting that inmates working inside and outside the courthouse wear uniforms.
“The sheriff implemented that request the same day,” Wilkinson said, “and we appreciate it.”