TANGIPAHOA PARISH – Tuesday marked the fifth time Bridget Varnado walked up to the Tangipahoa Parish Courthouse this year.
Varnado came to the courthouse for her brother Tommy Smith who was beaten to death inside the Tangipahoa Parish Jail in January. Authorities have described the attack as a “shark feeding frenzy.”
But Tuesday’s hearing in the case, for seven of the twelve accused killers, has a sting to it after she learned of another instance of inmates able to engage in illegal activity inside the jail since her brother’s death.
Eyewitness News has obtained screenshots from a Monday Facebook Live broadcast which appears to be inside the cell of a jail. One of the suspects in Smith’s case, Tyquan Davis, is seen smiling in one of the shots.
“I could never smile again if I did that to a person,” Varnado said. “And how is a guard not back there putting a stop to this, once again?”
Three hours after Eyewitness News brought the incident to TPSO’s attention, Davis along with William Knighten, Artemus Collins, Johnathan Hickerson and Shawn Landry were arrested for introduction of contraband into a penal institute.
The quick development pleased Smith’s family, but they want more.
“Sheriff Edwards needs to take this serious enough that, hey guess what, this jail is a disaster,” Varnado said. “If you don’t stop it, someone is going to end up dead again.”
Monday’s cell phone incident comes just a few months after two brothers were able to escape the jail for a day. In many of the instances, Sheriff Edwards notes an issue with the quality of the facility as a factor. Edwards says he is doing the best he can with the outdated and aging facility.
Voters in Tangipahoa Parish have turned down a proposed tax to build a new jail, and the Sheriff’s Office remains in a legal battle with the parish over paying for the upkeep of the facility.