Family seeks answers in Saturday shooting death

A 31-year-old man who was trying to adopt his first child was found shot to death Saturday night in the driveway of a home on Underwood Avenue, leaving family members numb.

“I don’t wish this pain on any other parent,” said Patricia McCalope, the mother of Jeffery Francois, who was found shot to death at 5355 Underwood Ave.

Baton Rouge police were called to the Underwood Avenue home about 10:30 p.m. There they found Francois, 3039 Midway Ave., shot multiple times, lying in the driveway about 10 feet from the road, said Cpl. Don Coppola Jr., a police spokesman.

“The details surrounding the death of Francois are unclear at this time,” Coppola said.

Family members gathered Sunday morning in front of the Midway Avenue home that Francois shared with his brother and described the victim as a quiet, kind-hearted man who never caused trouble.

At his parents’ home on Winnebago Street, many were still trying to cope with Francois’ death.

“I just want whoever did this to come forward,” Francois’ mother said. “You know what happened to my child. Just tell the truth. … I want justice.”

She said friends and others who live on Underwood Street have told the family five or six stories about why someone gunned down her son in a neighborhood several miles from his home, but by Sunday evening, they had not heard from the Police Department.

“We’re never going to know the truth now because he can’t talk,” Jeffery McCalope, Francois’ father, said as he stared at a picture of his son on the coffee table.

Francois worked odd jobs to make money before joining his father in his painting business. Francois and his girlfriend were working out details to adopt a baby girl, his mother said.

Patricia McCalope said the last time the couple saw their son was about 5:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon when he left their house, saying he was going to walk to the home on Midway Avenue.

The family first heard something was wrong about 11 p.m. when Jeffery McCalope’s nephew called to say Francois had been shot, Patricia McCalope said.

Then she received a cryptic phone call from a man who said he was with Francois when the shooting happened.

“I don’t know if he was in shock or what, but he was saying, ‘It wasn’t supposed to go down like that. It wasn’t supposed to happen like that,’ ” Patricia McCalope said.

She said she began to panic, asking the caller where was he calling from and where was her son, trying to get information on what had happened.

“He hung the phone up, then he called back saying, ‘He’s in the grass, he’s not moving,’ ” she said.

He did not call again.

At the Underwood Street home where Francois’ body was found, the couple who live there declined to give their names but said neither of them knew the victim, and the shooting was a shock to them.

The couple said they were not at home when the shooting occurred, but rushed home when their neighbor called to say a man was dead in their driveway.

The woman said one reason the shooter may have chosen her driveway was the absence of street lights in that part of the street, making it hard for witnesses to identify the shooter. She said the light to the right of her home has been shot out with a BB gun while the other is so dim, it looks like it is out.

Anyone with information may call (225) 389-3845 or Crimestoppers at (225) 344-7867.