SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Court documents detail a chaotic and bloody scene and the frantic search that followed for the man accused of attacking his mother and one of her supervisors with a machete in the lobby at LSU Health Shreveport in February.
The documents also reveal the chilling moments before the brutal attack early on the afternoon of Feb. 1 as a hospital worker realized something was terribly wrong and tried to take an elevator up to the family medical clinic on the fourth floor to warn Latonya Chatman, but it was too late. Chatman and her supervisor were already on their way down to the lobby, where 27-year-old Zaokoye Chatman was waiting when the doors opened.
What happened next left the 49-year-old mother with deep gashes on her head. Her supervisor, 61-year-old Shirley Malroy, nearly lost a hand in the attack.
Malroy was taken directly into emergency surgery even as dozens of officers converged on the hospital in response to numerous 9-1-1 calls reporting a man with a machete was there “killing people,” but Chatman remained conscious and was able to tell police it was her son before going into emergency surgery herself.
She also told police her son had schizophrenia and bipolar disorder coupled with PTSD from prior military service.
Narratives filed in court from more than a dozen officers who responded to the scene describe how the hospital was locked down as officers from several agencies searched and cleared floors, setting up a command center and operating under the assumption that machete-wielding man might still be inside.
One officer described running up four flights of stairs and having to be swiped through several doors by nursing staff only to rush back down with word the suspect was in the ground floor lobby. Another officer was there on prisoner escort duty when she saw a Malroy being rolled by in a wheelchair screaming in pain and turned over the prisoner to hospital security to assist in the search.
The lockdown was lifted a short time later when surveillance video showed him running away from the hospital campus on foot.
Chatman ultimately turned himself in to police at the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center around 1 a.m. the next day. He was turned over to Shreveport police and charged with attempted second-degree murder and second-degree aggravated battery. He remains held without bond as a suspect in a deadly machete attack in New Orleans, which happened less than 24 hours before he walked into the lobby at LSU Health and demanded to see his mother.
Nurse Cheryl West told police she thought the man who came into the lobby crying and saying, “I need my mommy!” was suffering a mental break. Another witness said she heard him talking to “God.”
West knew Latonya’s other son but had never seen Zaokoye. She called up to the fourth floor to let Latonia know. The man kneeled in the lobby, crying. West said she grew alarmed when she went to help him into a chair and saw a long handle in his waistband that she thought was a gun.
Backstepping to the elevator, West reached for the button thinking she had to get upstairs to tell Latonya what she had seen, because “she just felt that something was not right about the situation,” according to her statement to police.
The man grew more agitated when a co-worker went over to Katie and whispered to her as she waited for the elevator, prompting him to look at her co-worker and say, “It’s over for you, too!” as the elevator doors closed.
By the time they arrived on the fourth floor where Latonya Chatman worked, they learned she had already headed down on the other elevator. That’s when West called University Police. By the time she got back down to the first floor, there was blood all over the lobby and inside the elevator.
Latonya Chatman later told investigators that she did not know her son was in town before he showed up at the hospital, describing a strained relationship over his belief that she had been a bad mother during his childhood.
Latonya told officers that Zaokoye often told her that she worked too much and was never home enough. She became emotional during the interview, explaining that she did everything she was supposed to as a mother and made sure they didn’t go without necessities, according to an investigator’s summary.
Zaokoye had been in Colorado, last she knew, and they had not spoken since their last argument around Thanksgiving in 2020. So when she got the call from the lobby that her son was there, crying and demanding to see his “mommy,” she was not sure which of her three sons was downstairs but she knew it was not normal behavior.
Malroy joined her as she headed to the elevator, concerned because the reason for the visit was unknown.
When the doors opened, Latonya Chatman would later tell police, she saw her son look to confirm it was her before striking his first blow with the large knife to the top of her head without saying a word. He would go on to slash at her several more times, landing at least two more on her head.
Through interviews with family members, investigators learned that Zaokoye Chatman had shown up at his mother’s house hours before the attack, demanding money and to see his mother. His stepfather told him she was at work. His brother later told police she had come home on her lunch break. They got the call about the attack after she had returned to work.
As investigators in Shreveport followed leads on Zaokoye’s whereabouts in the hours after the attack, they learned of the slaying in New Orleans that also involved a machete and a suspect matching his description. Court documents show family members identified him and his vehicle in surveillance photos of the suspect in that attack.
The court records also say the machete has not been found.
Zaokoye Chatman was assigned a public defender during his first court appearance on March 3. He is due back in Caddo District Court on May 10.
Download the ArkLaTexHomepage app to keep up with the latest top stories, breaking news, weather, sports, and more!