WESTWEGO, La. – The man, wearing a World War II Nazi uniform and carrying a powerful German rifle of the same vintage, quickly told police his mission: He was on the way to kill a man.
"He told the officers he was on the way to his sister's house to kill a neighbor who complained about the smell coming from her animals," Police Chief Dwayne "Poncho" Munch Sr. said Wednesday.
Devin Plaisance, 39, was captured about five blocks from his intended victim's home Nov. 10 in this small suburb across the river from New Orleans. He was wearing a Nazi uniform and helmet, carrying an 8mm Mauser — a World War II German gun — and his pockets were stuffed with ammunition, Munch said.
"That's a very dangerous weapon," the chief said. "It would have easily penetrated any of our bulletproof vests."
Despite the Nazi uniform, Munch said race was not a factor in the incident.
"It wasn't a race crime or a hate crime, they're both white," Munch said. "He said the neighbor used to kid him and call him a Nazi, so he put the uniform on to scare him before he shot him."
Plaisance was initially taken to West Jefferson Medical Center for a psychiatric evaluation. He was re-arrested Tuesday following his release from the hospital and remained in the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center on Wednesday. Bond was set at $76,000.
Authorities talked with Plaisance's mother, Munch said.
"She expressed that he needed some help for his alcoholism." Munch said.
Plaisance was booked with attempted second-degree murder based on evidence that he developed a plan to kill someone and was in the process of carrying it out when he was captured by police, Munch said. Because the intended victim was over 65, the charge was bumped up to attempted first-degree murder.
Police would not release the name of the intended victim.
Plaisance appeared to be intoxicated when he was arrested, Munch said. He has a record of traffic and alcohol-related offenses, he said.
The officer who first spotted Plaisance called for two units to back him up before confronting him and he was arrested without trouble, Munch said.
The incident began earlier in the day when Plaisance — who appeared intoxicated then as well — confronted his sister's longtime neighbor about his complaints that her animals were causing a stench.
"They've known each other for years, but Plaisance got a little loud and the neighbor pushed him out the door," Munch said. "Plaisance slipped and fell and blamed the neighbor for it."
Plaisance went home, put on the Nazi infantry uniform, got his rifle and was returning to the neighbor's house when officers spotted him, Munch said.
Plaisance told officers he collected World War II memorabilia, Munch said. A search of his mother's home, where Plaisance lives, did not turn up any other Nazi items, Munch said.
Munch said Westwego, 17 miles from New Orleans, is normally very peaceful.
"Westwego has relatively no crime," he said. "We haven't had a murder, we haven't even had a shooting or a cutting this year. We haven't had an armed robbery this year."