Tyrone Williams, 19, remained jailed Wednesday evening in lieu of two $20,000 bonds for separate charges of simple battery, court records show.
His most recent charge stems from an alleged attack last week on a woman jogging in Audubon Park. Around 8:30 p.m. Thursday (April 12), Williams ran up next to the woman, spoke to her briefly and then jumped on her, saying “I should kill you” and then ran off as her screams began to attract attention, police told Uptown residents at a community meeting Tuesday. Williams had previously been arrested in a very similar incident on Burdette Street in February, in which he jumped on a jogger and then was scared off by her screams, police said.
“We don’t know what his motives are, what his mindset is, but this obviously seems to be a pattern,” said NOPD persons-crimes investigator Sgt. Chris Billiot, noting at the Second District’s internal leadership meeting Wednesday that Williams also has a record of domestic battery. “He might have a thing against women,” Billiot said, or he may be in need of psychiatric medical attention. “Sometimes people just go off their medication.”
In a court hearing Monday, Williams pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the latest charge, and his defense attorney requested a psychiatric evaluation for him, according to court records and officials. Mental patients involved in criminal cases are often sent to a facility in East Feliciana Parish for hospitalization, but simple battery carries a maximum sentence of up to six months, and court officials said it is highly unusual to see an insanity plea in a misdemeanor case.
Williams’ arrest and what will become of him has been the subject of intense speculation lately in the Irish Channel, where he is known for both odd and sometimes troubling behavior. He is well known for sucking his thumb in public, said Kara Morgan, president of the Irish Channel Neighborhood Association, as well as for being slow to respond when spoken to.
Morgan said police have been called to at least two incidents in which Williams allegedly exposed himself to Irish Channel residents. In one of the cases, he knocked on a woman’s door and exposed himself when she answered, but ran off after she screamed, Morgan said.
“The fact that he came in the yard and knocked on the door is extremely disturbing,” Morgan said.
At the time, people in the neighborhood warned one another to keep an eye on him, Morgan said, but she said the apparent escalation in his behavior is frightening.
“Not everyone thinks, OK, in two years he’s going to be attacking people who are jogging,” Morgan said. “I was just furious when I read about the Audubon Park incident, because he’s gotten a lot more violent.”
Morgan said she believes Williams is not safe to have on the streets. The uncertainty surrounding his court case is troubling, she said, and an optimal solution would be for Williams to receive substantial mental-health treatment.
“But everyone knows, that system’s not working,” Morgan said.
Williams’ next court hearing is a status update set for May 2, and his trial is currently set for June 20.
The attack continues to raise concerns among joggers at Audubon Park, as Monica Hernandez of our partners at WWL-TV reports: