Chitimacha tribal officer killed; suspect arrested for killing officer, 78-year-old man

CHARENTON, La. — A Chitimacha tribal police officer and a 78-year-old man were killed in a shooting spree Saturday morning that also left two St. Mary Parish sheriff’s deputies wounded near Cypress Bayou Casino.

Wilbert Thibodeaux, 48, of Charenton has been charged with two counts of first degree murder, two counts of attempted first degree murder and one count of arson, according to State Police.

The two deputies were out of critical condition and in stable condition as of Sunday, state police said.

Thibodeaux was held without bail in the Iberia Parish jail, said state Trooper Stephen Hammons.

Shortly before 10:30 a.m., deputies with the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office and an officer with the Chitimacha Police Department responded to a report of a man armed with a shotgun walking on Flat Town Road in Charenton.

The officer encountered Thibodeaux when he arrived at the scene. Thibodeaux fired at the Chitimacha officer, killing him. As two sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene in the same unit, Thibodeaux fired multiple shots hitting the deputies. Thibodeaux was also shot during the encounter. Other responding deputies took Thibodeaux into custody without further incident and he was released to state troopers after treatment at a local hospital, Hammons said.

Hammons said state police are investigating who shot Thibodeaux.

Firefighters extinguished a mobile home fire, believed to be set by Thibodeaux prior to the officer’s arrival, according to state police. Once extinguished, detectives and state fire marshal investigators discovered the body of 78-year-old Eddie Lyons of Charenton in the home. Detectives suspect Thibodeaux shot Lyons before the fire.

Hammons said Lyons’ body was found in a mobile home that had been set on fire Saturday before someone told police that a man carrying a shotgun was walking down a street near the tribe’s 260-acre reservation and less than a quarter-mile from its Cypress Bayou Casino.

“Today is a difficult day for our partners in St. Mary Parish,” said Col. Mike Edmonson, State Police superintendent. “My thoughts and prayers are with the deputies and the officer’s families tonight. I know the coming days and weeks will be difficult ones for the men and women of the Chitimacha Police Department and the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office. We will assist their agencies in any way we can during these trying times.”

Reporting from The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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