Residents, relatives grasp for meaning in wake of shooting

Location of Shooting in Slaughter
Location of Shooting in Slaughter

Before Thursday, Dot Methvin would sometimes bring groceries to Marie Smothers, her down-the-street neighbor.

“She liked greens,” recalled Methvin, “Turnip greens, mustard greens … she did a lot of cooking.”

Methvin stopped speaking for a moment, and again gently shook her head, expressing her sadness and disbelief that Smothers had been fatally shot Thursday evening by an 8-year-old relative inside Smothers’ residence.

“She gave her whole life for children. And then that happened,” Methvin said. “Things happen and you just don’t see them coming.”

The shooting has received national media attention ever since East Feliciana Parish sheriff’s deputies said the boy shot his 87-year-old caretaker after playing a version of the video game “Grand Theft Auto IV,” a notoriously violent game.

Detective Don McKey of the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office said investigators cannot say for certain that the video game triggered the boy’s violent action, but they are pursuing that line of inquiry.

When asked specifically what led to investigators to believe the shooting was intentional, McKey said he could not release such information, but that evidence points to an intentional shooting.

The Sheriff’s Office will not release any further information about its investigation until legal proceedings wrap up, said Sgt. Kevin Garig, also with the Sheriff’s Office.

Greta Campbell, Methvin’s daughter who lives several mobile homes down from Smothers’ residence, said Country Breeze, the mobile home park off La. 67 near Hockaday Road where the shooting occurred, is usually a quiet, safe neighborhood. Outside of an incident last year that involved some people shooting guns off during a party, Campbell said the mobile home park hasn’t seen any other criminal activity.

“We never have to worry,” Campbell said. “Since 1982, we’ve never had anything like this happen.”

That’s when Campbell’s parents, Dot and Gerald Methvin, first opened the mobile home park.

“Mostly it’s quiet and it’s a nice place to live,” Dot Methvin said about the mobile home park, which her husband owns. The park includes a collection of several dozen mobile homes on lots spread among a few rows and separated by mostly well-manicured lawns.

Dot Methvin said she has never spoken to the 8-year-old boy accused in the shooting, but that she believed he and three other children moved in with Smothers only a couple of months ago.

“He’d walk to the mailbox and he’d wave,” Methvin said of the boy.

Deputies said previously that from accounts of people who knew the victim and the boy, including family members, the two had a normal, loving relationship, and even shared the same bedroom.

A man who answered the door at Smothers’ residence Saturday and identified himself as her son called the shooting an accident that has now left him struggling to gather his mother’s belongings and bury her.

The man, who also identified himself as the boy’s uncle, said the boy had just gotten home from school and was playing video games before the shooting occurred.

“It was just a freak accident,” said the relative, who declined to provide his name.

While deputies have investigated the shooting as a homicide, the boy cannot be prosecuted criminally because he is younger than 10 years old, according to Louisiana Revised Statute 14:13, said District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla of the 20th Judicial District.

The statute reads: “Those who have not reached the age of ten years are exempt from criminal responsibility. However, nothing in this article shall affect the jurisdiction of juvenile courts as established by the constitution and statutes of this state.”

No matter the legal outcome, Dot Methvin sympathized with the young boy.

“It’s going to be sad being 8 years old and having to deal with something like that,” Methvin said.