Neighborhood remembers Calderera family

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 7, 2001


LUTCHER – The quiet neighborhood is one where friends helped each other. When Tracy Robeau Calderera found her neighbor, Mabel Cambre, after a stroke, she spent months looking after her on a daily basis in a nearby nursing home. When Gert Zimmer, her elderly and widowed backyard neighbor on Cypress Street, needed groceries, Tracy would stop by and pick up her list. “Tracy was such a sweet person,” Zimmer remembered. Often, Tracy’s stepson, Ryan, would cut Zimmer’s grass for her at no charge. “You talk to him, it was always yes, ma’am’ and no, ma’am,'” Zimmer recalled. The other side of Ryan Calderera, 14, came out some time Wednesday night when he apparently shot and killed his father, Victor “Sonny” Calderera Jr., and his stepmother, Tracy Calderera, of 2390 Texas St., Lutcher. He was apprehended after a brief chase in the Bourbon subdivision of Paulina early Thursday afternoon. The crime left the quiet, working-class neighborhood in shock. Texas Street is a sleepy, two-lane road which only runs three blocks before it dead ends. On the same block the Lutcher United Methodist Church is a landmark. Zimmer said although her air conditioner was off, her ceiling fan was on and her windows were closed so she didn’t hear the gunshots which killed the Caldereras. She found out about it when relatives called her on the telephone. It was Zimmer’s daughter-in-law who immediately leaped to help couple’s now-orphaned 6-year-old daughter, who was left to spend the night with her slain parents. The child was taken to St. James Parish Hospital, where a relative also joined the little dark-haired girl. “She had long, black hair,” Zimmer said, “and at the hospital she told everybody she cut it off for Locks of Love to help cancer patients.” After the shootings Ryan Calderera had reportedly made off with the family’s Jeep Cherokee. Thursday morning, after the discovery of the bodies, the missing Jeep was being sought by the sheriff’s office. The teen-ager was located in the Bourbon subdivision in Paulina, and several firearms were in the vehicle with him, according to St. James Parish Sheriff Willy Martin Jr. An exact time of death for the couple has not yet been determined, Martin said, and investigators are quizzing neighbors to try and pin that down. The teen-age suspect, meanwhile, was taken to the St. James Parish Jail in Convent. Meanwhile, Zimmer’s friends and relatives stopped by all day to discuss the crime and comfort one another. The quiet Lutcher neighborhood may never be the same.