3 Slidell police officers return to work after..

The physical signs of the shootout between Slidell police officers and an armed robbery suspect began to fade this week at a commercial strip on the city’s busiest thoroughfare. Crews have been busy replacing shattered windows and repairing bullet holes in the walls of the businesses at 1480 Gause Blvd. and an adjacent strip (NOLA.com).

But the gunfire, which left the suspect wounded and in a hospital, still weighs heavily on the minds of those who work and shop there. “Customers have been coming in, and they’re scared,” said Mohammad Mazhar, manager of Boost Mobile. “They’ve been talking about the incident” (NOLA.com).

Three Slidell police officers who fired their guns in a shootout with an armed robbery suspect have returned to regular duty, Police Chief Randy Fandal says. “They’ve been cleared,” he told the City Council on Tuesday night (Jan. 24) (NOLA.com).

The officers returned to normal duty on Monday, Fandal said. Two had been placed on administrative leave, one on administrative duty, which is standard procedure, after the Jan. 13 shooting outside a restaurant along busy Gause Boulevard, he said (NOLA.com).

The officers have not been publicly identified. After the council meeting, Fandal said he let them return to duty after receiving a summary of the Louisiana State Police findings thus far. “Everything looks like it’s justified,” he said (NOLA.com).

The Police Department asked State Police to investigate the case given that Slidell officers fired their weapons. A State Police spokesman said Wednesday the agency would have no comment on the case until its investigation is completed (NOLA.com).

Fandal told council members it has been an “unusual” start to the new year, with several shootings occurring in Slidell. “I don’t think it will be a trend. Hopefully we’ve sent a message … . The response times were quick.” (NOLA.com).

Police said the Jan. 13 shootout erupted after a man tried to rob Mr. Joe Chinese restaurant in a commercial strip at Gause and Rue Rochelle. The suspect, later identified as Michael Donato, 26, of Slidell, exchanged gunfire with police before being apprehended, authorities say (NOLA.com).

Donato was wounded and spent time in a hospital before being released and booked into the St. Tammany Parish jail in Covington on charges of attempted first-degree murder of a police officer, armed robbery, attempted second-degree murder and being a convicted felon in possession of a gun.

No officers were wounded in the shootout, which sent bullets through the front windows of several businesses in the strip center and an adjacent commercial strip.

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