3 law enforcement officers shot, 1 killed

A Charenton man accused of the fatal shootings of a Chitimacha police officer and a mobile home resident and also wounding two St. Mary Parish sheriff’s deputies near the Chitimacha Native American reservation in St. Mary Parish was arrested Saturday morning.

The man was arrested after he was wounded during a shootout with law enforcement authorities, a State Police spokesman said.

Wilbert Thibodeaux, 48, was held in State Police custody after the shooting, Trooper Stephen Hammons said in a news release.

The two wounded St. Mary deputies were transported in critical condition to hospitals in New Orleans and Lafayette, Hammons said.

It remained unclear by Saturday night who shot and wounded Thibodeaux in the shootout, Hammons said in a phone interview.

The Chitimacha policeman and deputies responded to reports of a fire at a mobile home and a man armed with a shotgun walking along Flat Town Road just off the Chitimacha reservation, near Cypress Bayou Casino, Hammons said.

The Chitimacha policeman found Thibodeaux walking in the 10000 block of Flat Town Road, Hammons said.

Thibodeaux fired at the Chitimacha officer, who died on the scene, then fired multiple shots at the deputies who had just arrived, wounding them, Hammons said.

After Thibodeaux was wounded, deputies took him into custody without further incident, Hammons said.

State Police are investigating the shooting, and more details will be available at a later time, Hammons said.

Authorities will release the names of the Chitimacha police officer and deputies involved, but a time has not been set yet, Hammons said.

Hammons said the body of Eddie Lyons, 78, of Charenton, the occupant of the mobile home, was found in the burnt wreckage of the mobile home. Detectives believe Lyons was shot before the fire started, he said.

St. Mary Parish Coroner’s Office personnel were conducting an investigation into the incidents, State Fire Marshal Butch Browning said.

Browning said a mobile home, large shed and two vehicles were destroyed by the fire. The mobile home, shed and one of the vehicles were near each other in the same lot and the second car was on the same side of the street, about 150 feet away from the mobile home.

“At this point, we’re still trying to piece everything together. We do believe the fires were intentional,” Browning said, adding his agency’s investigation was ongoing. Fire investigators had not yet pinpointed the cause or origin of the fires and if each fire was set individually or if the fire spread to each locationspot.

“It’s a hard day today to be a first responder,” Browning added.

The casino is run by the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana and is less than a quarter-mile from the scene of the shootings.

“Everybody is just in shock. It’s small-town America,” said Jacqueline Junca, the tribe’s secretary and treasurer.

Charenton is located about 45 miles southeast of Lafayette.

Access to and from the casino was restricted for roughly 90 minutes as a precautionary measure while law enforcement authorities responded to the shooting, said casino spokeswoman Nancy Herrington.

“We are very much in business and have been,” Herrington said later Saturday. “We have events tonight. All of those are taking place.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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