SABINE PARISH, LA (KSLA) - A man who says he served in the Louisiana National Guard with both Tony Procell and the man accused of abducting him at gunpoint says the whole thing is especially shocking because so many people respected Robert Barthelemy.
"I feel betrayed. I never thought this would have come out of him. It's terrible," says Corey McMillion. "I've been trying to run scenarios in my head yesterday of what happened. I can't, not to know, what would drive somebody to do this. I don't know."
Barthelemy, a 34-year-old Natchitoches police officer, is now being held at the Sabine Parish Detention Center, charged with aggravated kidnapping and home invasion. He was arrested early Wednesday morning after a high-speed chase and standoff that ended on Hwy 177 in DeSoto Parish.
Police have said the search for Procell began after his roommate came home Tuesday morning and found the place in disarray. Home surveillance video revealed Barthelemy forcibly removing Procell from the home at gunpoint, according to Sabine Parish Sheriff Ronny Richardson.
McMillion says Barthelemy was a superior officer to both him and Procell when he was serving. "It's just like any other relationship with a superior officer or sergeant. We all looked up to him. He was a role model. It's just a shock."
McMillion says he saw Tony Procell less than a month ago, and describes him as "outgoing, fun. If you ever went out doing something, you always wanted Tony to be there because you wanted Tony to be there because he always made it more fun. He'll make you laugh anytime. When you're down, he picks you up. A really really good friend."
He believes that Procell has the skills to survive if he was left in the heavily wooded Kisatchie National Forest, as authorities have said he claimed to have done on Tuesday.
"We're both in the same unit, we were trained in land nav. Watch the sun, what to eat, you know we know and out of all of us he has the best chance to make it. He really does."
McMillion says he has joined up with a civilian search party, which has been discouraged by Sabine Parish authorities who say they are concerned about safety and preserving any evidence they might come across.
The official search for Procell includes several law enforcement agencies, and is expected to resume in some form on Friday morning. Joe Dewil with the Sabine Parish Sheriff's Office won't say specifically where they've been looking except to say that the general search areas are in Sabine, Natchitoches and DeSoto Parishes.
On Thursday morning, Dewil said there was no reason to believe at this point that they are working on a recovery mission. "It is a search and rescue until we have evidence to lead us to believe otherwise. Obviously, we're over 24 hours that he hasn't contacted anybody, going on 48 hours, so time is critical."