Almost one week after a bomb threat shut down Lafayette’s major university, a suspect is in custody. 30-year-old New Orleans native Devin Haywood is facing federal charges of planning a hoax device and attempted bank robbery.
The manpower intensive investigation included extensive interviews and physical evidence, according to FBI Special Agent Don Bosec. During a press conference Tuesday morning, officials with the multi-agency task force responsible for Haywood’s arrest broke down figures and moves made to discover his connection to both crimes.
Agents were able to obtain the cell phone number from the bomb threat call made to a local media outlet on July 16th. The phone associated with the number was purchased from the Wal-Mart on Evangeline Thruway on July 15th. Security video of the person who bought the phone was compared with images of Haywood.
While no official motive has been released, it is believed Haywood called in the bomb threat and immediately began making plans to rob a local Mid- South Bank branch.
Lafayette Chief of Police Jim Craft described it as an “early bird” robbery that took place later on July 16th at 7:30 a.m., just as hundreds of law enforcement officers from multiple agencies combed the campus for a suspicious device.
“An early bird robbery is when the employees going into work are taken outside the facility. The perpetrator makes entry before the bank opens and does a robbery before the bank is open for business,” said Chief Craft.
Video surveillance of the bank shows a car driving up, then quickly speeding off as the suspect, believed to be Haywood, gives chase pointing an object at the back of the vehicle. In addition, video evidence was also obtained from a nearby elementary school in the area next to the Moss Street location of Mid-South Bank at the time the attempted robbery occurred. The video shows a suspect matching Haywood’s description discarding a gym bag onto the roof of the school. Agents obtained the bag and were able to find zip ties and a glove inside.
DNA evidence pulled from the glove matched Haywood’s which subsequently led to his arrest.
As the attempted bank robbery took place, over 200 first responders, divided into 12 search teams with 9 bomb dogs, searched the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, before finding the device in Girard Park.
“The decision to evacuate the campus was in part due to the hoax device being located in Girard Park and being verified that we had a hoax device,” said UL Lafayette Police Chief Joey Sturm.
The hoax resulted in the university’s largest evacuation to date, and has caused expenses to rise sharply for both the university and the various responding law enforcement agencies. While an exact figure has not been released, Chief Sturm explained agencies are facing overtime costs and UL Lafayette paid employees for emergency leave.
“That’s a huge cost,” said Sturm. “Not to mention the disruption of the academic environment, the numerous camps that were going on the campus.”
Special Agent Bosec said more charges are likely against Haywood, as well as additional arrests. Haywood, who is not a UL Lafayette student, was arrested outside of his Lafayette home Monday and booked into the St. Martin Parish Jail.
After the arraignment hearing, Haywood was detained pending trial. If convicted, Haywood could be sentenced to 10 years in prison and three years of supervised release for the bomb threat charge. He faces 20 years in prison and five years of supervised release for the attempted bank robbery charge. Both charges carry a fine of up to $250,000.
Haywood’s criminal record shows charges stemming from an armed robbery incident, aggravated battery and illegal possession of stolen things in June of 2005.
Anyone with additional information is asked to call the FBI hotline at 1-800-CALL-FBI