Man shot son then himself in apparent murder-suicide in River Ridge

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- A River Ridge man apparently took his son's life then his own in the 300 block of Celeste Avenue in River Ridge. People gathered outside the house late Friday afternoon.
Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- A River Ridge man apparently took his son's life then his own in the 300 block of Celeste Avenue in River Ridge. People gathered outside the house late Friday afternoon.

Jefferson Parish sheriff deputies Friday found a man dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound and the 16-year-old son he is believed to have fatally shot in the house they shared in a quiet neighborhood.

Col. John Fortunato, a sheriff’s office spokesman, said deputies were contacted shortly after 11 a.m. by a woman who had not heard from her 16-year-old son in two days. The woman met deputies at the one-story ranch house at Celeste Avenue and Lucy Court, to check on the boy, who lived with his father.

Fortunato said that when deputies entered the home through an unlocked front door, they found a 52-year-old man lying dead on the floor in a front room with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. When deputies began searching the home, they found the 16-year-old dead in a bedroom, he said.

Fortunato said investigators believe the man shot the teenager at least two days ago, before turning the gun on himself yesterday. He said authorities do not know what might have led to the shooting and were conducting interviews with family members. He declined to release the names of the victims because relatives had not officially been notified.

However, the boy was identified as Matthew Tarto by J.T. Curtis, the headmaster at John Curtis Christian School, where he attended high school. Public records show that a Mark Tarto also lived at the address.

Curtis, who is also the football coach, said Matthew Tarto was a sophomore reserve player on the team last season.

“He was a very hard-working kid on the football team and was really excited about being on the team and looking forward to playing more next season. He never missed a workout,” Curtis said.

“He was just a good kid. I’ve been asked today who his closest friends were and I had to say everyone.”

Tarto had been absent from school for three days, he said. Curtis expressed bewilderment at the crime, saying the young man had been close to both his mother and father.

“Everyone in the John Curtis family is heartbroken,” he said.

Neighbors described the father and son has keeping to themselves.

But Justin Conzelman, who lived down the street, said they would often be spotted taking walks together.

“They were pretty much inseparable,” he said.

Staff writer Laura Maggi
contributed to this story.