Fatal shooting leaves Bayou Vista neighborhood apprehensive

BAYOU VISTA, La. — Gunshots broke the still of the night and the tranquility of a Bayou Vista neighborhood shortly after midnight on Monday.

“I am very concerned,” said Jeremy Breaux, 36, a few houses away and across the street from the Columbus Avenue site of the killing of Wade Blackburn, 18, Monday morning. He pointed to a window he said is the bedroom of his 12-year-old son.

“That window is in the line of fire (from where the shooting occurred),” Breaux said. “You never know what a stray bullet could do if (my son) was at that window.”

Blackburn appeared to have died of a single gunshot wound, according to Traci Landry, spokeswoman for St. Mary Parish Sheriff Mark Hebert. She said the motive for the shooting remains under investigation.

Hebert said in a news release early Monday afternoon that Charles Douglas Chandler II, 21, was apprehended and arrested by sheriff’s deputies at his Sun Road residence in Bayou Vista and charged with first-degree murder.

David Breaux, 61, lives next door to his son, Jeremy. He said he worries that an incident like that could keep customers from coming to his home-based auto-detailing business.

“I was shocked when I heard what happened,” said the older Breaux. “I am disappointed, mad and frustrated.”

Hours after the killing and one street over on Delmar Street, Bayou Vista Elementary School Principal Claire Guarisco held a staff meeting and told her teachers to carry on as usual but to remain vigilant. Classroom doors were locked as St Mary Parish Sheriff’s deputies searched for the shooter.

Since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, St. Mary Parish schools have installed a system of locked single entrance to schools. People can only enter the campus after being identified via video and the locked door remotely unlocked. Guarisco said that added to a feeling of security on the campus.

“The teachers handled this very well, the deputies were extremely helpful and the (school board) central office helped us a lot,” said Guarisco. She said both young men had been students at the elementary school.

A few teenaged boys who said they were friends of the victim and a couple elementary-school-aged girls milled around the residence where the shooting occurred. They politely refused to talk about the shooting as did two soft-spoken women at the residence.

Landry said that Chandler had been arrested in 2009 and charged with burglary of an inhabited dwelling and several drug charges including possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. She said Chandler’s arrest in Monday’s shooting was due to the work by detectives and “the community deserves credit for helping in the quick apprehension of the suspect” because of citizens’ involvement and information.

Cliff Willoughby lives in a mobile home across the street and near Chandler’s residence. He said he is in the process of moving from the home he has lived in for nearly 15 years.

“This isn’t really a bad neighborhood,” Willoughby said. He said he has raised four daughters there. “But there are a couple of bad eggs that spoil it,” he added as he looked at the house where Chandler lived.

Shortly after school ended Monday afternoon, Carolyn Leonard arrived to pick up her grandson. She pointed to her house about a block and a half from the shooting and shook her head in disbelief as she heard about the shooting for the first time. “It is scary,” Leonard said of the thought of a killing so close to her home in which she said she has lived for about 40 years.

St. Mary Now & Franklin Banner-Tribune

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