Homeless man shot twice in Dat Dog break-in

by Chelsea Yaeger

LPD responded to a May 23 break-in at the construction site of Dat Dog on Jefferson Street but did not publicly release information on the incident.

In yet another setback for the long-awaited Dat Dog, police confirm that a homeless man was shot twice when he allegedly broke into the business on May 23.
Photo by Robin May

The Independent has learned that the Lafayette Police Department responded to a May 23 break-in at the construction site of Dat Dog on Jefferson Street, one that led to two shots fired upon the alleged perpetrator, but the LPD did not publicly release information on the incident.

According to the police report, which The IND obtained on June 1, the suspect entered Dat Dog at about 3 a.m. The alleged victim told police he “heard a glass shatter to his bedroom door,” according to the officer's written statement. The victim then “opened the second door and located the suspect inside.” The victim says in the report that the suspect “came after him, causing him to fire one shot.” The victim says he then “followed the suspect into the hall and fired one more shot.”

The victim is not identified in police reports, but The IND has confirmed that he is the general contractor on the job.

Tony Edward Trahan
Image courtesy Lafayette Parish Correctional Center

The police report states the “suspect was located behind the business with a gunshot wound in his left shoulder and one in his right foot.” From there, the suspect was transported to Lafayette General Medical Center in stable condition and then booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center.

According to Cpl. Karl Ratcliff, public information officer for the LPD, the suspect is Tony Edward Trahan, a 38-year-old white male. Ratcliff tells The IND Trahan is homeless, had non-life threatening injuries and was charged with simple burglary.

Trahan is awaiting a court date with no projected release. Ratcliff tells The IND the victim is not being charged for shooting Trahan, though he would not give a specific reason. Presumably, the police investigator determined that the victim acted in self-defense.

A search of Lafayette Parish courthouse records reveals that Trahan has a criminal record dating back to 2000. Charges of possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and illegal possession of stolen things were dismissed. Trahan has convictions for possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia; possession of alprazolam, possession of methadone, possession of firearm in presence of controlled dangerous substance, possession of marijuana second offense; three charges of illegal possession of stolen things; possession of cocaine; theft of goods under $500; and criminal damage to a coin operated device.

The Independent visited the 201 Jefferson St. site on June 1 and attempted to get more information on the incident from the general contractor, who declined to comment for the record.

What's still not clear is why LPD did not publicly release information on a Downtown shooting.

“It was in a business. If we don’t deem it as a risk to the public, we don’t have to put that information out,” says Ratcliff, who also cited protection of the victim in the decision not to release information publicly. “We don’t do a formal release for everything that we deal with.”

The IND also reached out to Bill DiPaola, chief operating officer and president of Dat Dog, for additional details on the break-in.

“There was an incident at our not-yet-opened Lafayette location,” DiPaola says in a statement to The IND. “No customers or employees were hurt. At this time, we defer to law enforcement authorities for comment regarding details of the incident, as the investigation is active and ongoing.”

The (long-awaited) opening of Dat Dog on Jefferson Street will represent the company's first expansion outside of New Orleans. The restaurant is set to open by the end of the summer, according to DiPaola.