Louisiana State Police and Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies arrested a Gorum man and his girlfriend in connection with a pursuit in Natchitoches and Rapides Parishes Thursday afternoon.
The pursuit began Jan. 28 at approximately 4:40 p.m., when LSP Trooper John Axsom clocked a Ford Focus on stationary radar speeding 101 mph in a posted 75 mph speed zone. The Ford was traveling southbound on I-49 near milepost #116 south of Cloutierville.
LSP attempted to stop the vehicle, however, the violator led State Police on a pursuit. It exited I-49 at the Chopin exit, travelled west on La. Hwy 490 into the Janie community, then through the communities of Gorum then Mora in Rapides Parish.
Additional LSP and Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Units responded to assist.
State Police say the pursuit continued into Rapides Parish on the Tom Edwards Road where the vehicle became disabled.
A male driver and female passenger holding a child fled from the vehicle into a nearby abandoned barn.
Shortly thereafter, the female, identified as Tessa B. Coutee, 23, of Gorum and her 2-month-old infant exited the barn and walked towards law enforcement following verbal commands.
The driver, identified as Daniel A. Rister, 28, of Gorum was observed fleeing from the barn into nearby woods.
A heavy law enforcement presence in the area conducted a brief manhunt but were unsuccessful locating Rister since he was familiar with the woods and back roads.
A wrecker was contacted to impound the vehicle.
Since Rister had been identified as the operator of the vehicle, Louisiana State Police obtained criminal warrants for his arrest signed by a Tenth Judicial District Court Judge.
While interviewing Coutee, she stated that she and Rister were arguing in the vehicle just prior to the pursuit and she tried to get him to stop but he refused.
LSP, NPSO and RPSO deputies were made aware of the warrants and continued patrols in the area.
On Sunday, Jan. 31 at 7:45 a.m., a team of Troop-E troopers and NPSO deputies armed with a criminal arrest warrant went to a residence in the 100 block of Andy Cedars Road in Gorum.
Deputies were aware Coutee and Rister resided at this residence due to prior calls for service at this location.
Shortly after arriving at the residence, law enforcement made contact with Coutee. She stated Rister was not at the residence and granted permission to search the residence.
Deputies observed an escape hatch that had been cut in the floor in the bedroom under the bed.
State Police and deputies continued a thorough search of the residence and discovered Rister hiding in the attic in possession of an AR-15 rifle.
Rister and Coutee were placed under arrest.
Deputies discovered the AR-15 rifle was stolen in a Jan. 11 residential burglary on Janie-Gorum Road in Gorum.
The firearm was seized.
Rister is charged with Speeding 101/75, Aggravated Flight from a Police Officer, Aggravated Obstruction of a Highway, Driving under Suspension, Criminal Trespassing, Resisting an Officer, Criminal Damage to Property, Child Desertion and Illegal Possession of a Stolen Firearm.
Coutee is charged with Accessory after the Fact for Harboring Rister and Criminal Obstruction of Justice.
Both face additional criminal charges in Rapides Parish and remain in the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center.
The child has been released to relatives, however, State DCFS are expected to be notified of this investigation.
There is an ongoing investigation into the burglary case.
Sheriff Stuart Wright stated the NPSO had received complaints/calls for service due to Rister allegedly firing an AR-15 in the area but when deputies responded, he hid or ran into the woods to avoid contact with law enforcement. “We hope this arrest by Louisiana State Police and Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office will ease some concern for the safety of the citizens in the Gorum area,” Wright said.