MANDEVILLE -- Last Thursday night, the upscale, gated community called The Sanctuary turned into a battleground for an annual junior-senior high school prank.
But this time, the joke turned into a jarring experience that’s left a homeowner and numerous students under criminal investigation.
“We're looking at everything objectively,” Mandeville Police Chief Gerald Sticker said. “We're looking at the big picture, we're interviewing everyone that we can.”
The students claim they were simply toilet-papering one home when the homeowner came out armed and followed them in his car.
Cell phone video of the confrontation that shows the man holding a gun at his side has gone viral online.
Parents of the involved students are outraged.
“It's a junior-senior war where they go to their friends' houses and they throw toilet paper in their bushes and then the next day they come clean it up,” said Andre Toce, an attorney representing some of the students and their families. “The parents don't understand why their girls were held at gunpoint for something as simple as that.”
But Craig Scott, the homeowner, said he first came out in reaction to what sounded like someone trying to break down his door. Surveillance video from his home shows numerous people scattered across his property.
Scott said while surveying what was left, including broken parts of a toilet, a mattress in his garden and an unknown chemical on his driveway, the group returned.
He said he gave chase to hold them in place for police to arrive.
"I didn't volunteer to have my home, my property attacked in the middle of the night or have my wife or my autistic son terrified in the middle of the night.," said Scott, "I, my family, and my daughter, who goes to one of these schools, have basically been bullied and vilified as some kind of crazed lunatic who is out here assaulting sweet children in the middle of the night and nothing could be further from the truth.”
Now police are trying to sort out fact from fiction and prank from possible criminal charges on both sides.
11/2/17 Update: Mandeville Police arrested Scott for aggravated assault with a firearm and obstruction of a roadway. Detectives say the investigation is on-going and charges are still possible for some of the teens involved.
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