According to Chief Jerry Trabona, while working the south gate at the arena at approximately 7:45 p.m., Detective Allen Ordeneaux heard a child screaming.
“Officer help me, Officer please don’t let him take me,” was what the child was screaming repeatedly. As Detective Ordeneaux turned toward the voice he observed a male child being pulled toward the gate by a white adult male.
The child was crying and appeared to be under duress. Detective Ordeneaux began to approach the suspect and verbally advised him to release the child.
The suspect replied, “This is my step-son.” The detective again commanded the man to release the child. He responded by placing his right arm across the child’s throat and continued to drag him to the exit.
Detective Ordeneaux grabbed the subject trying to get him to release the child from the choke hold. Florida Parishes Arena employee Donna Baham joined the officer and tried to pry the man’s hands from the child’s throat.
A physical confrontation between Detective Ordeneaux and the assailant began, which ended with the detective taking him to the ground. Off duty Tangipahoa Parish deputy Terry Layne arrived to assist and was able to get one hand cuffed.
Assistant Chief of Police Michael Foster arrived and warned the suspect that if he did not comply with officers he would us the Taser. He ignored Foster’s warnings at which time a “drive stunt measure” was used on the suspect.
The suspect finally complied with officers and was handcuffed and escorted out of the arena. Assistant Chief Foster took the child to medical personal to be looked over, where the child was joined by his 22-year-old sister.
The suspect was identified as Thomas Bickford, 28 of Ponchatoula. He was arrested and searched. An empty cigarette box was found in his front pocket which contained five pieces of a blue pill and two pieces of a yellow tablet. In another pocket was a cigarette box with a syringe with needle attached and a liquid residue in the syringe.
Detective Ordeneaux contacted the child’s mother who met them at the arena. Apparently, neither the mother, the sister nor the child knew Bickford.
He was charged with aggravated kidnapping of a child, resisting arrest violent, battery on a police officer, possession of schedule II narcotics and outstanding warrants.