An arrest in a police investigation is usually accompanied with a sense of accomplishment, the pride of solid police work paying off.
There was some of that Tuesday morning as New Iberia Police and city officials held a press conference to announce the arrest of a New Iberia man in the shooting death of 17-year-old Garon Lewis on Aug. 16. But the prevalent mood was one of loss and frustration as each speaker mentioned the senselessness of the Lewis murder.
“Kids need to stop killing kids,” New Iberia Mayor Freddie DeCourt said in his opening remarks. “What this arrest proves is that community policing works in New Iberia.”
Lewis, 17, was the son of Iberia Parish School Board member and former New Iberia Councilman Raymond “Shoe-Do” Lewis. According to NIPD Chief of Police Todd D’Albor, dispatchers were called around 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 16 after receiving a report of gunfire near Rene and Audrey streets in the Dodge City subdivision. When police arrived, Lewis was found shot in a car at that location.
Trevonce Jakail “Gwaupo” Bernard, 20, was booked into the Iberia Parish Jail shortly after 7 p.m. Monday. He stands charged with second-degree murder, aggravated criminal damage to property and illegal use of a weapon. He is being held on $820,000 bond.
D’Albor said that 13 investigators interviewed 47 people during the investigation’s 2,000 man hours, but noted that there were no special consideration or emphasis given to the case because of Lewis’ role in the community.
“We also had 13 investigators work the last shooting we had,” D’Albor said.
With Bernard’s arrest, the NIPD maintains its 100 percent solved rate for homicides since taking to the streets in July 2018, but that seemed small consolation.
“This was a senseless killing,” said D’Albor, flanked by other city officials and members of the Lewis family. “This shouldn’t happen in any city, including ours. The Lewis family lost their son.”
Raymond Lewis spoke at length about his feelings on the day of his son’s death.
“Where do we start?” he said. “On Friday, Aug. 16 I was troubled that morning. I prayed all that day. That evening, my wife and I were in the mudroom — they call it a washroom nowadays — and Garon came in and said, ‘I need to iron my shirt.’ He knew his mom would say, ‘Give it here and I’ll iron for you.’
“The last thing I told my wife is, ‘Lord, I just want to see — I want to live long enough to see my baby graduate,’” he said. “We got the knock on the door. It was his best friend. By the time we made it to his car, the chief and mayor were pulling up.”
Other members of the law enforcement community commiserated with Lewis in his grief.
“It’s unimaginable to think about the loss of a child,” 16th Judicial Court District Attorney Bo Duhé said. “This is a starting point in this investigation. It’s going to be a long process.”
Lewis, however, had uplifting words for the outpouring of support from the community as a whole. He also expressed his thanks and gratitude to the officers and investigators of the NIPD.
He also remembered his wish for his son.
“I did not expect the graduation to be walking with a cap and gown,” Lewis said. “The graduation he got was greater. I am going to miss him, but he is with the Lord. What a graduation, to be present with the Lord.
“This was senseless,” Lewis said, using a word heard repeatedly during the press conference. “We do not need it in our city. I do not want any sort of retaliation against anyone. The truth will come out.”
“This investigation will continue,” D’Albor said. “We will continue to ask the community for support, for information that will lead to others involved.”
In closing, the police chief echoed the feeling of loss in the wake of Lewis’ murder.
“This was a senseless death,” D’Albor said. “I hope we never have to work another one.”
As the officials filed from the city council meeting room in City Hall, Lewis turned to his wife, Roxy, and embraced her. Although he had been stoic throughout his comments, the long-time politician began to cry as the family’s three children gathered around them.