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War on Wise Street

Serving a high-risk warrant, a Louisiana tactical team found itself in a desperate firefight.

September 01, 2003  |  by - Also by this author

Alexandria’s SRT team fought a pitched battle on this property. Gas drove the gunman from the white house, and he was killed in an exchange of gunfire. His body has been marked out of photo.

Sgt. Bruce Fairbanks of the Alexandria (La.) Police remembers the moment he realized that things were about to go bad during his tactical team’s Feb. 20 service of a high-risk warrant.

The target of the warrant was a parole violator who was suspected of the premeditated ambush of an Alexandria cop. The site was two small wood frame houses at 2316 Wise Street in an impoverished area of Alexandria called the Sonia Quarters. Alexandria PD’s Special Response Team (SRT) was executing a detailed plan to serve the warrants and search the structures for evidence to connect Anthony Molette, 25, to the ambush attack. Intelligence gathered before the assault told them that Molette would not be home.

It was wrong.

Executing the raid plan, Fairbanks split his unit into two entry teams, positioned snipers at the front and the back of the property, and took up a command position with his team’s assistant commander. Near-simultaneous raids were launched on the main house known to the officers as “the pink house” and on a smaller white structure behind it known to officers as the “junk house.”

The pink house team rammed open the door, tossed in a flash-bang grenade, and began clearing the home room to room. Everything was going according to plan. Then Fairbanks realized that something was going terribly wrong. The entry team at the front of the smaller “junk house” had just rammed the door for the fourth time and then paused. That didn’t make sense. The door on the reportedly unoccupied house was flimsy. It should have cracked open with one blow.

Fairbanks turned to his assistant commander Officer Cliff Slaughter and said, “That doesn’t sound good.”

Slaughter didn’t have a chance to respond. The entry team hit the door on the “junk house” one more time, and heavy gunfire shattered the drizzly February afternoon.

The bullets came from an AK-47 assault rifle fired by Molette who was inside the “junk house.” And they were devastating.

Officer Jeremy “Jay” Carruth—who had pushed his way into the doorway of the junk house, trying to pry it open—was hit in the cheek and the temple and fell on the porch. Behind Carruth, Officer David Ezernack was shot in the throat and fell into the yard. The remaining men in the six officer stack tossed a flash-bang into the doorway, laid down suppression fire, and took cover.

I’m Coming Out

Two officers were down. Calls were put out for assistance from surrounding tactical teams, including the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Department SWAT team and the Special Operations Group of the U.S. Marshal’s Service based in nearby Pineville.

But reinforcements were at least 20 minutes out; two of their buddies were bleeding to death in the line of fire, and the men of the SRT knew they were the only force that could protect other Alexandria officers from a man who had evidently declared war on the police. They had to make a stand.

Bloodied and shocked by the ferocity of the attack, the SRT officers could have panicked. They could have turned into “cowboys” and rushed the house. They could have made a hundred wrong moves. But their training and professionalism kept them in control and working toward two key goals: rescuing their wounded friends and containing and neutralizing the threat presented by the gunman.

The pink house raid team set up an inner perimeter, taking cover in the doorway of the pink house and behind “junker” cars in the yard. The remainder of the junk house team rolled around to the right side of the junk house, taking cover behind the wall and planning their next move.

Just seconds had passed since the first shots. And the focus of the operation was now to pull Carruth and Ezernack to safety. Officer Joey Simms and Officer Jerrod King left positions of cover to make a rescue. They were met with withering fire.

“I tried to go onto the porch to get Carruth,” remembers Simms. “Then the suspect opened fire again. I was feeling debris and stuff hitting my clothes. I heard bullets zip past me. I dove off the porch to the left.”

King was pinned down next to Ezernack. He could hear the wounded man wheezing, but there was nothing he could do.

The gunman knew the SRT officers would try to rescue their buddies and he was targeting accordingly. “I laid down next to David because I could hear the rounds cracking by me,” says King. “I could feel the dirt hit me. He was targeting me and David because I think we were the only ones he could clearly see. I laid down next to David and the firing stopped for a second.”

Now minutes into the firefight, the suspect gave the SRT a ray of hope. Officers say he used a pause in the shooting to call out that he was surrendering.

“He would holler, ‘I’m coming out! I’m coming out!’ Some of the team members would yell back at him, ‘Throw the gun out. Come out with your hands up,’” says Fairbanks. “He would reply with, ‘You want me to throw the gun out and put my hands up?’ And the team would again repeat the verbal commands. And when they would announce this second set of verbal commands, Molette had pinpointed where their voices were coming from.”

Molette was using the officers’ voices to target. He couldn’t see them, but he could hear them, and every time he heard them, he sent a fusilade of 7.62mm rounds in their direction.

Pinned Down

The gunman’s ability to target sounds was a constant concern for the officers throughout the battle. He even used it to locate the officers who had sought cover on the right side of the house. They soon found themselves pinned down, as the gunman fired down at them through a barricaded window.

SRT’s situation had grown increasingly desperate; officers were trapped against the side of the junk house; officers were pinned down next to Ezernack, and the shooting from both sides had been heavy for more than 10 minutes, so ammo was running low.

It would get worse.

Officer Slaughter moved in to try to help rescue Ezernack and was shot in the left bicep. He rolled to cover beside one of the “junker” cars. The pink house raid team behind the other junker started to move toward Slaughter, but they were ordered to stand.

Here It Comes, Guys!

Fire continued to come from the junk house. And the SRT officers knew they had to somehow regain the initiative. The officers who were pinned down at the side of the house and in the yard had to be given cover so they could pull back, and Ezernack had to be rescued.

They communicated with hand signals, and over their LASH radio headsets, and made a move.

“Here it comes, guys!” yelled one of the officers and a massive torrent of fire hit the junk house, chewing into its white wooden façade, and forcing the gunman to seek cover. At the same time, the officers at the left of the house also opened up and retreated to cover behind one of the cars, and Simms and King dragged Ezernack to safety.

Pass the Ammo

The firefight had lasted about 20 minutes at this point and ammunition was in critically short supply. Each team member carried one 30-round magazine in his primary weapon (MP5, M4, AR-15) and three spare magazines, but all the suppression fire had taken its toll and some officers were down to their last shots.

Realizing that he was too wounded to be of use in the battle, Slaughter kept one round in his Colt M4 and gave his remaining ammunition to the other men. “He started throwing magazines to us with his good right hand,” says Simms. “It was a great throw. It hit a few feet in front of me, bounced, and hit me right in the chest.”

Once Slaughter had distributed his ammo, the team laid down some cover fire, and he got up and ran to a nearby church parking lot and medical attention.

Other officers took Ezernack’s spare mags, and SRT members Cpl. Cedrick Green and Officer Jerrod King and Alexandria PD motor officer Rodney Gaspard carried him to a waiting ambulance. They then went to the command truck with Sgt. Fairbanks for ammo.

Fairbanks, Green, and King used the pink house and a beige house on the left to ferry ammo out to the team. At one point they were throwing boxes of cartridges out to the officers behind the junker cars.

Deploying the Gas

Ezernack was now out of the line of fire and Fairbanks knew there was no way for his team to reach Carruth without framing themselves in the gunman’s field of fire. He also had good reason to believe Carruth was already gone. Carruth had been shot twice in the head, and the young officer wasn’t showing any signs of life.

Fairbanks decided to deploy gas.

He grabbed the gas gun and a bag of gas grenades and moved into position in the kitchen of the beige house. From the back doorway of the beige house, he fired a gas round into one of the junk house’s windows.

CONTINUED: War on Wise Street «   Page 1 of 2   »

Comments (25)

Displaying 1 - 25 of 25

Shannon @ 1/31/2013 6:44 PM

Moving article. It will be 10 years next month. Thank you for writing this.

jamail @ 12/16/2013 11:59 AM

This event changed our city. Our prayers still go out to all who lost a loved one that day

Gerald Gallaway @ 12/16/2013 5:18 PM

My thoughts and prayers are and remain with those fallen heroes

Concerned @ 12/17/2013 6:26 PM

Jay Carruth's daughter was not aware of the tragic details mentioned here (even though some are false). She came across this in a post someone shared and is greatly shaken by these details. Way to go for making this public info without notifying the families involved. You have broken a little girl's heart all over again.

Kaiser @ 12/18/2013 6:16 AM

@Concerned It's been ten years. Did you not think the details would be released eventually? As heartbreaking as it is for his daughter, the DETAILS prove very key in providing other officers the opportunity to learn from this situation and not to mention could be very essential in giving closure to that child if she discusses it with a professional who can help her sort through it. Your anger is severely misplaced.

Heather Smoak Urena @ 2/20/2015 9:14 PM

it's important for local government, including law enforcement, to be transparent with such information. All of these officers exhibited tremendous bravery and resolve. It's a damn shame that one criminal inflicted so much tragedy. I raise my family in Alexandria because it has a family feel and conveniences beyond cities of similar size. It's important that the right training and equipment be put in place for these multi-agency responses actively reduce our city's criminal acts and restore our safety.

jermaine morris @ 2/20/2015 10:39 PM

R.I.p cuz o gone but never forgotten

frank @ 2/21/2015 6:57 AM

How about give an report of the poor showing of the 5.56 in round in the stopping power in this event. I have read of a poor showing of the 5.56 in many events. From the start in Vietnam the THE stopping power was shown to not do the job. The same said of the .30 carbine, .38 Special ,etc The Russian round was a copy of the Geman Kurst round. The Russian people with out political help came the AK47. duh. The FBI learned from that close, face to face shootout. The only way to answer this is tell the Politicians to bug off. The take men at the front line of this shootout plus hundreds of BEEN THERE DONE THAT VETS, TO GIVE THEIR THOUGHTS ON A BETTER ROUND. THE CORRECT TEST IS ESSENTIAL, WITH OUT A "For the dollar" guy in sight. Only those who have seen the BAD STUFF UP CLOSE, AND SAW THE TERRIBLE RESULTS OF POOR EQUIPMENT. GOD BLESS THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THIS EVENT.

Cliff Slaughter @ 2/21/2015 3:25 PM

It's been 12 years downrange, time for me to think and re-think this event. I've written the same book 3 times but can't, for the life of me, justify knocking the scab off the wounds of the families of David and Jay.

I will tell you this, you were given a sanitized, choreographed version of the events of that day. A lot of what you were told is based in truth. However, what you weren't told is where the story really lies, a story that could have made much more difference in the lives of officers across this land. You were probably discouraged from talking to me. There is a reason for that. I retired from the LA State Police as a Sgt in Criminal Investigations, I was on LSP SWAT, the team leader of a high risk warrant team, this was not my first rodeo nor my first fire fight. You weren't told about the lack of training, the lack of equipment, the lack of qualified leadership (yes, I include myself) You owe it to yourself and your readers to dig deeper.....even now!

Jeffery @ 2/22/2015 10:43 PM

Nothing has changed. That area of town is still a dump. It is still ridden with violent repeat offenders and drug dealers. That whole neighborhood needs to be bulldozed.

Tammie @ 2/25/2015 9:31 PM

I pray for the families this effected but I will say this. There was much more behind the scenes problems that our officers can admitt to for fear of retaliation from a few of their superiors. There is much emotional trauma these officers still live with surrounding this event. To the public it's over and done with therefore no one will dig any further into the truth about the situation. I have nothing to loss at this point. I have always supported law enforcement. There are some extremely good officers that put their lives on the line for us, but like any occupation one bad cop can cast a negative outlook on all. I'll help out a bit. As Cliff said...Yes lack of traing, yet even WORSE lack of equipment, not even enough equipment for the swat team. No ammunition! Gun fight No ammo. REALLY.. Yeah I know this too. Don't ask how. They were like Barney Fife, Got gun with 1Shell or 1 cartridge! Some officials should care more about the officers lives that are trying to save us instead of dinners, grudges, politics and dictating from a desk. Get your ass out there and you might see what really goes on. Alexandria is Not safe and it's not getting any better. Cliff Slaughter can not speak of what the truth behind many problems that occurred during this incident but let's say their own lives were in danger and it was not only because some crazy convict was shooting at them! The truth is there if you care to know!

jessica @ 1/25/2016 2:01 PM

Yall have feel sorry for the police officers when they drove him to that it's always more to the story that never put it in the article how they use to mess with this dude take his drugs and money and make him walk home naked instead of arresting him or jumping out and beating him just beacsue half of there's cops a crocked in ALEXANDRIA LA and a person can only take so much regardless of who they are and what they do right is right and wrong is wrong he went out with a bang and I don't feel sorry for the police officers if they where crocked

Fallensoldier @ 1/25/2016 2:11 PM

There is another side to this story... This is the police detail account.... What about the corruption and the real reason why they were there? Why fortify yourself in a junk house if you don't know someone is coming to kill you? If the story is told truthfully and fully.... You will see how low Louisiana really is...

Boiboy @ 1/25/2016 6:27 PM

R.I.P Anthony Molette
Gone but Never Forgotten

Scooby Luchianni @ 1/26/2016 1:58 AM

#Hellexandria is full of crooked officers and officials!! I wish Kanks could've killed all them bitches and got away with it! The real die young, the fake die dumb!

Anthony @ 1/26/2016 1:32 PM

For real I was out there that day and I tell you. They had every intention in killing my boy even after they let his mom talk to him on the megaphone. She pleaded for the police not to kill her son. But they wanted to kill him. Just being crooked as always

Molette is a POS @ 1/26/2016 3:15 PM

They used tap rounds because full Metal jacket would have tore through peoples houses....yall don't care about your children...they do... one of molettes rounds killed a dog several blocks away. Had it been summer time, would be kids all out in the street. Molette was a fugitive. The junk house was his alamo. He ambushed the officer the night before and knew they would come for him. His people encourage this bullshit because in the Sonia quarters, being a criminal is the way of life for some people and when the police take your dope, they are just "harassing" you. The APD tried to get molette to turn himself in but his people refused to help them bring him in peacfully...they egged it on..wanted blood in the streets. But yall just keep talking crap on your government phones about these police officers and praising that POS. I think they need to dig molette ass up every year and shoot him again. Yall are NOT Alexandria....yall need to move to Houston if you don't like it...maybe things will be better for the rest of us when yall do.

Young C @ 1/26/2016 6:38 PM

Man you full of bull shut you might be one of them crooked mass cops. Identify your self if you stand behind your words, When it comes to the minority the only thing you could say is government phones, It's obvious that molette owned more than a government phone, more like a government Ak-47 for britches like you..

Mr. Dogg @ 1/26/2016 8:40 PM

"F" Anthony Mollette and anyone who thinks he is worth crying over. He is a POS and those who defend him are POS' as well. Young C, identify yourself you coward. You are a POS. What drove him to this? His criminal ways and his cowardly family. Wait, he WAS a POS, now he is simply another criminal murdering coward who is burning in hell right now. And despite what you hear, hell hasn't frozen over even after the Saints won the Super Bowl, it's still hot there.

fuxAlex @ 1/27/2016 1:45 AM

The entire city of Alexandria is a wasteland, not just the Sonya Quarters. This was a very sad incedent for Molette and the cops involved. I feel sorry for this city. The kids are dropping out of school, selling drugs and also using them. Breaking in homes and robbing people of the things they worked hard for. The jobs are all ran by pompous individuals who don't care about their employees. The kids are rude, disrespectful, and disobedient. The people in this town always talk down on each other. Alexandria is gone to waste, and its our own fault. I'm sure Molette wasn't an angel, but the police are full of shit too. The Sonya Quarters is not as bad as you all say it is. They just need a break, somebody need to help them out a little instead of always throwing negativity through the hood. I lived there and never had any problems.

SonyaRose @ 1/27/2016 11:08 AM

This whole thing is crap. I know people from both side of this and they kept kids from going home at the time it was happening. I don't think this was timed by Molette. He wasn't capable of shooting no kids. Come ppl, even the cop admitted that they went to that house at that time (knowing kids were getting out of school) to kill this man. They knew it was high risk, so who should be ashamed. They could have ran his shit anytime of the day. They (The cops) were looking to pin more charges against him and Molette knew this. He wasn't thinking about what time it was, he just rationalize this bullshit to offset the inevitable. He didn't want to go to jail. Have you ppl talking are crooked and don't know shit about a hard life in the hold. Rationalize that. If you don't know then STFU. Rip to Molette and the cops of Wise St War

kafs73 @ 1/29/2016 6:36 AM

This situation, while tragic, proves that 2 wrongs do not a right make! A corrupt officer shakes down a criminal, making him no better than the criminal. Unfortunately, two innocent officers lost their lives in the retaliation. Maybe fixing the problem would be a better idea than continuously looking the other way?

KAT @ 2/22/2016 7:14 AM

This was a very sad day, RIP DAVID AND JAY, PRAYERS FOR THEIR FAMILIES. SO SAD THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO BLAME THE POLICE. If these criminals would have been at work this wold not have happened. Prayers for the families.

Tri @ 3/16/2016 8:40 PM

I'm speechless to even read about this. I lived across the street from here when I was a little girl. Mrs. Bunky and her husband lived in the pink house before he passed. Sad story. Prayers to the family of the officers who lost their lives. Tragic

Joe @ 1/27/2017 4:49 PM

REST in Heaven Mollette. Good dude.

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