Charge against suspect not sealed in court

Release: The extortion scheme involved threats and the detonation of 2 pipe bombs


The caller used a ruse about the lost keys to lead an employee of an Alexandria payday loan company on an unsuccessful search until a pipe bomb he had planted nearby exploded.

Debris hit her in the back and she tried to hang up so she could call 911. That’s when he dropped the story, telling her he planted the bomb and demanding $10,000.

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Ultimately, the extortion attempt failed. And, according to an affidavit filed in federal court, investigators soon had the caller’s cell phone number and a video of the vehicle he was likely driving.

Less than a week after the explosion near the Payday Today business on MacArthur Drive, Daniel Dewayne Aikens, 37, was arrested by Rapides Parish sheriff’s deputies while driving a white Jeep Cherokee not far from there, at the intersection of Elliott Street and MacArthur. Conduct.

Local, state and federal law enforcement had conducted a joint investigation since the bombing, combing through the Payday Today site and then the U-Pak-It convenience store on Jackson Street days later. Little information has been shared publicly, even after Aikens was led out of the federal courthouse in handcuffs on January 7.

On Monday, the complaint accusing him of a count of extortion was unsealed. He is due to appear in federal court on Friday for a preliminary review and detention hearing.

The affidavit was also among the court documents available on Monday. It details the call Aikens allegedly made to Payday Today around 9:30 a.m. on January 2, and it corroborates much of what the victim wrote about his experience in a Facebook post later that day.

The woman wrote about her fear for herself and her family after the caller gave her details of what she was carrying, her children, where she lived and the steps she was taking while he was directing her on the phone during the extortion attempt.

Investigators later went to a convenience store near the company to review the surveillance video, theorizing that it would be “an ideal surveillance location to observe Payday Today and the actions of the victimized employee”, can we read.

“A white Jeep Cherokee is seen at the gas station the morning of the Payday bombing.”

The cell phone used to call the employee was purchased on December 19, 2019 from a Dollar General on Horseshoe Drive and activated the same day via an unnamed prepaid account. The employee who sold the phone described the buyer as a black man wearing “ragged and torn clothes and reeking of urine,” the affidavit reads.

Video surveillance of this location showed the man driving a white Jeep Cherokee.

The cellphone was used to connect to the internet on December 23, 2019 in the Shreveport area, according to the affidavit. Authorities also learned that a white 2001 Jeep Cherokee was registered to an address about 30 miles north of Shreveport.

Alexandria area law enforcement received a “be on the lookout” alert with photos of the Jeep taken near Payday Today and Dollar General. No other information, such as a model year or license plate, was provided.

The affidavit says deputies stopped a similar Jeep Cherokee on the night of Jan. 6 because of an expired license plate and a malfunctioning brake light.

Aikens was the driver.

Investigators compared the Jeep Aikens to surveillance videos. The affidavit states that the one in the videos is “consistent in all respects with the 2001 Jeep Cherokee that Aiken was driving.”

Aikens remains in detention, still at Rapides Parish Detention Center in downtown Alexandria, according to online reports.

A Monday night press release said two pipe bombs had detonated. Neither he nor the affidavit reveals any information about the second pipe bomb.

Aikens was once a college professor and an officer in the Louisiana National Guard. He lost his teaching job in August 2018 after a domestic battery arrest, less than a year after being featured in a Town Talk video and an article about positive male role models.

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He was fired from the Louisiana National Guard after this arrest.

Aikens faces trial June 22 in Grant Parish on unrelated charges of smuggling contraband into a correctional facility and breach of a protective order.