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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

Shortly after noon on Feb. 20, the Alexandria SRT attempted to serve a parole warrant on Anthony Molette and search warrants for the buildings at 2316 Wise Street. The Alexandria SRT was divided into two entry teams supported by two sniper positions. Team one hit the pink house, team two the white or “junk” house at the rear of the property. Molette fired on team two, mortally wounding two officers and igniting a 45-minute firefight. Molette was suspected of an earlier ambush attack on an Alexandria officer.

The gunman responded with concentrated fire at Firebanks and the other officers in the beige house. His shots slammed into the kitchen appliances as the officers took cover on the floor and prepared to fire another gas round.

When the fire stopped, Fairbanks stood up behind the doorjamb, and using the maneuver called “slicing the pie” lined up another shot. He pulled the trigger and the shot found its target.

But for a split second, Fairbanks was framed in the doorway. The gunman fired, and one of his rounds shattered the glass of the beige house’s storm door, peppering Fairbank’s face and eyes with splinters, and tearing through his ear. Fairbanks was knocked down as the bullet grazed his skull. He tried to get back up but fell down. And two of his men carried him to an ambulance.

This Has Got to Stop!

Some 30 minutes earlier, 14 Alexandria SRT officers had arrived at 2316 Wise Street to serve two warrants. Four were now down. One in the doorway of the junk house, covered by the gunman’s fire in such a way that any rescue attempt would have been suicidal. Three others were on their way to the hospital.

The 10 standing SRT officers were now reinforced by Rapides Parish SWAT, but it was still primarily their fight. Tired, stunned by the violence of the last half hour, and frustrated by their inability to help their wounded buddy, they held their ground and waited.

They didn’t have to wait long.

A wild-eyed and gas-stung Molette, shirtless in camouflage pants, came out of the house spraying fire from his AK-47, which was suspended from his neck by a length of swingset chain. A blue bandana was wrapped around the forearm of the rifle.

He stood on the porch and shot at SRT sniper Darren Edwards and Rapides Parish SWAT. Edwards was hit during the exchange and Rapides SWAT operators returned fire and pulled him to safety.

Molette was driven off the porch by a hail of Rapides SWAT bullets, and he charged into the yard at the SRT officers behind one of the junker cars.

Officer Chris Wolf had taken a position in the doorway at the side of the pink house early in the fight and it was from this vantage point that he saw Molette charge his comrades who were prone behind one of the junker cars. He believes it was providence that put him in the right place at the right time, with a loaded M4.

“I had already gone to my pistol just before he came out,” explains Wolf. “I had gone through three M4 mags and through two-and-a-half pistol magazines. And just by the grace of God, I felt another 30-rounder stuck in my vest. So I jacked it in and got it set up, and two seconds after that, he came out.”

Wolf opened up on full automatic at a range of 18 to 20 feet with the lanky 6-foot, two-inch, 150-pound gunman running toward him. He watched in amazement as his .223 TAP rounds opened wounds in Molette’s legs and chest, and the gunman didn’t fall.

Molette kept coming and Wolf poured on the fire. “I kept thinking, this has got to stop,” he says. “I mean, that’s the only thing that goes through your mind is, ‘Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! This has to stop!’ And he was still coming at us. It’s just hard to believe.”

Even harder to believe because Wolf wasn’t the only officer firing.

Alerted by Wolf’s shots, the four officers behind the car—Officer Chris Cooper, Cpl. Pat VanDyke, Officer Darrel Bradley, and Officer Joey Simms—were also shooting at Molette with 12-gauge slugs and 40-caliber MP5s. And despite all this punishment, he was still shooting back.

“His shots missed my face by a couple of inches,” says Officer Chris Cooper. “His shots busted the taillight of the car, and the glass actually shattered off the taillight and hit me in the face. We opened up on him and he just kept firing. He wouldn’t go down. I didn’t know if the rounds that we were shooting at him were holding him up or what. He kept running; he kept firing. He hit the ground and was still firing.”

Simms adds, “As I looked up, Molette appeared and he was running. He was running as fast as he could, firing and turning toward us. He was probably only 10 or 15 feet away and firing that AK in our faces, and we all just started returning fire at him.”

It was a horrific moment that lingers in the memories of all the men who were in the battle, some of whom still see Molette in their nightmares. “When he came around that car, he looked like a 10-foot-tall monster to me. I remember seeing the flash of his muzzle and feeling the concussion,” says Simms.

Cooper characterizes Molette as “pure evil” during the firefight. “When he came out, he must have thought he was untouchable. Either that or he just didn’t care. I can remember everything about him when he came out. I can actually watch him being hit.”

It’s estimated that Molette was hit 40 times, including three center mass shots with 12-gauge slugs before he fell. Consequently, some of the officers involved in the shootout believe he was on PCP or other mind-altering substances. Unfortunately, their suspicions can never be confirmed because of a medical examiner’s error.

Not Over Yet

Despite the fact that the threat from Anthony Molette had been eliminated, the SRT team held their positions for another five to 10 minutes. They believed because of the volume of fire that had come from the junk house that they were dealing with a second shooter.

But Anthony Molette acted alone.

Five to 10 minutes after the gunman bled out and expired, a decision was made to clear the junk house. With the remaining members of the SRT team providing cover, Rapides Parish SWAT and the U.S. Marshal Service recovered the body of Officer Jay Carruth, and entered the junk house.

Inside, the deputies discovered that Molette or someone had fortified the interior by nailing two-by-fours and old wooden doors over key ports of entry. The windows were also covered with plastic sheeting so that the occupants could stand at them and remain unseen.

Tragedy and Recovery

Jay Carruth was pronounced dead on arrival. David Ezernack was mortally wounded in the firefight. He died some five hours later in a local hospital.

Wounded SRT members Sgt. Bruce Fairbanks and Officer Daren Edwards have returned to duty and to the SRT team. Officer Cliff Slaughter suffers great pain from the wound that he received in his left bicep and is still recuperating.

Despite the casualties, Fairbanks says he believes the actions of his team were professional and necessary, and he doesn’t know what he could have changed in the assault plan to prevent the tragedy. He adds that he has requested an armored vehicle from the city council and believes it could have made a great difference on Feb. 20.

But armored vehicle or not, a gunbattle like the shootout on Wise Street turns on the courage and discipline of the officers involved. And Fairbanks says he is very proud of his SRT.

“Even in the absence of myself and assistant commander Slaughter, this team stood together and exchanged shots with this guy when he came out,” he says. “They maintained professionalism and fire discipline, and that made all the difference.”

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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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