MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - A man shot a postal employee, and led police on a high-speed chase through Monroe Thursday afternoon. He eventually crashed into a bridge on Highway 165 South, where the suspect took his own life.
Just after 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon Monroe Police said Ezra Richards shot the postal worker on South Grand Street near the I-20 overpass.
The postal worker drove from the scene of the shooting until he crashed into a car a few blocks down, near the Ouachita Parish School Board Office.
Police chased the shooter down South Grand Street and Richwood Road, eventually onto Highway 165, until Richards lost control, crashed, and then shot himself.
KNOE has learned there was an on-going feud between the victim and alleged shooter Ezra Richards.
The district attorney's office tells KNOE Richards was facing attempted murder and arson charges, relating to crimes committed against the postal worker, in December of last year.
According to court documents, the two had similar love interests, and a source told KNOE 8 News today Ezra was trying to take out the victim.
The victim was taken to St. Francis Hospital with a gun shot wound to the butt. Police have not provided an update to the victim's condition as of news time. He was on his mail route when he was attacked.
Bonnie Knighten thought she was looking at a car accident when she stopped at the corner of Miro and South Grand Street next to a mail truck.
She was on her way to the Ouachita Parish School Board Office.
"There was nobody over there," Knighten said. "I thought, 'well they were in the shade waiting for the police."
She didn't realize she was in the middle of a crime scene.
"The guy came through flying," Alonzo Richardson, a witness, said, "and the flag man was trying to tell him to slow down."
Alonzo Richardson said he saw the suspect, Ezra Richards, clip the mail truck and then open fire on the mailman.
"I don't know if he shot him down there or what," Richardson said, "but the mailman jumped out of the truck with it dragging. The mailman came running out to this Ouachita Parish building with the guy behind him trying to cock his gun."
"Took the sign with him up under his truck," Bonnie Knighten said.
Workers at the Ouachita Parish School Board said they took care of the victim after Richards sped off. The mailman, who delivers mail there regularly, had been shot in the butt.
"He was very cool, he was very calm, he was very relaxed," Bobby Jones, another witness, said. "(He) certainly didn't act like I would have thought someone would have acted like had they been shot.
"He was talking but I don't remember him complaining."
"They said he was shot," Bonnie Knighten said. "I don't know. They said he was ok. I hope he is."
The school board office was placed on lock-down while police worked the crime scene.
The suspect shot the postal employee and sped off, taking Monroe Police and Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Deputies through quiet Monroe neighborhoods, and then, eventually, a busy highway.
The suspect stopped himself when he slammed his pick-up into a bridge.
Portions of Highway 165 South were closed to traffic Thursday afternoon after a man took police on a high speed chase.
Zooming between cars, turning around in the median, even shooting at officers.
"He did shoot at our Monroe police officers right around here," Ouachita Parish Sheriff Royce Toney said.
The chase ended not long after it began when Ezra Richards crashed into a bridge. Investigators said the impact didn't kill him, but the self-inflicted gun wound did.
During the chase, Richards crossed over the median at least three times, even causing a Monroe Police cruiser to crash on Highway 165.
"All the police as far as we know are in good shape," Sheriff Toney said.
Monroe Police, Ouachita Sheriff's Deputies, and Louisiana State Troopers worked to stop Richards while he sped out of control.
Sheriff Royce Tony is thankful for the teamwork from all departments.
"It's just the brotherhood of law enforcement protecting our community," Sheriff Toney said.
Traffic was tied up along Highway 165 through rush hour. Highway 165 was closed for some time, then re-opened partially. At news time, the entire stretch of highway has been re-opened.