1 Officer Fatally Shot, 2 Wounded Near La. Casino
Police on Saturday arrested a man suspected of fatally shooting a police officer and critically wounding two sheriff's deputies who were responding to a mobile home fire near a south Louisiana casino, authorities said.
A Chitimacha tribal officer was pronounced dead at the scene of the shootings near Charenton, while two St. Mary's Parish sheriff's deputies were critically wounded and taken to local hospitals, said Louisiana State Police Trooper Stephen Hammons.
Hammons said the officers were responding to a fire at a mobile home near the Cypress Bayou Casino when the unidentified man allegedly shot them.
The casino is run by the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana and is less than a quarter-mile from the scene of the shootings. Hammons said the shootings occurred near but not on tribal land.
"Everybody is just in shock. It's small-town America," said Jacqueline Junca, the tribe's secretary and treasurer.
Police didn't immediately release the names of the suspect and the officers.
Tribe councilman Toby Darden said the slain officer was married and had two grown children, but he declined to give his name.
"He's a real great guy. Extremely dedicated to his job. Very brave," Darden said.
He was one of seven full-time officers who patrol a 260-acre reservation that has roughly 150 homes, a grocery store, a small school and government offices.
"Everybody knows the officers personally," Darden said. "It's devastating."
Darden and Junca said they didn't know the identity of the suspect, but Junca doubted he was one of the tribe's 1,200 members, roughly half of whom live on the reservation.
"We're a small tribe," she said. "If it was somebody from here, we would know that already."
Access to and from the casino was restricted for roughly 90 minutes as a precautionary measure while police responded to the shooting, said casino spokeswoman Nancy Herrington. Charenton is located about 45 miles southeast of Lafayette.
"We are very much in business and have been," Herrington said later Saturday. "We have events tonight. All of those are taking place."
A spokeswoman for the sheriff's office and a tribal police dispatcher referred questions about the shootings to the State Police.
"We've got a lot of unanswered questions," State Police Capt. Doug Cain said.
According to Hammons, one of the injured deputies was taken to a hospital in New Orleans and the other was taken to a Lafayette hospital.
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