Three gunfire incidents last week had one common denominator, Sheriff Tregre reports

Published 10:15 am Tuesday, September 5, 2023

LAPLACE — Heavy police presence was observed across the community during a grueling three-day span of crime that left one dead, two injured and five arrested in St. John the Baptist Parish last week.

Sheriff Mike Tregre said the gunfire incidents on August 30, August 31, and September 1 were related to each other in only one way – all three started with an argument and escalated to gun play.

“The common denominator in all three cases was people unable to resolve arguments without resorting to guns,” Tregre said.

Just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 30, detectives began investigating a double shooting that critically injured two in the parking lot of the Roadrunner gas station in Reserve. Upon arrival, deputies located a subject that had been shot multiple times and were further informed that a second subject arrived at the Ochsner LaPlace Medical Center with a gunshot wound from the same shooting. Both victims are reported as being in stable condition at this time. Video surveillance led to the arrest of Roquan King of Reserve. King has been charged with attempted second degree murder.

According to Tregre, the shooting occurred after “someone bumped into someone.”

Less than 24 hours later, the St. John Sheriff’s Office responded to reports of a shooting in the 1400 block of Cartier Drive.

Deputies located a male subject with a single gunshot wound. The victim was transported to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Tregre said an argument started in a vehicle with the person who was killed. Further details cannot be released at this point in the investigation.

Jonathan Williams and Dederick Zeno, both of LaPlace, were developed as suspects in the homicide. Zeno was located at his residence and charged with one count of principal to second degree murder. Meanwhile, Williams was located on a Greyhound bus traveling to Atlanta, found to be in possession of a stolen firearm, and charged with one count of second-degree murder.

The crime spree continued Friday afternoon. Shoppers and staff poured out of the LaPlace Walmart around 3:30 p.m., running for their lives amid cries that a shooter was inside the store. Sheriff Mike Tregre confirmed later that evening there was not an active shooter inside Walmart, though arrests were made and weapons were recovered as a heavy law enforcement presence surrounded the store.

Tregre said the incident started with shots fired on Carrollwood Drive.

“Two young ladies had a disagreement, and they happened to cross paths in LaPlace on Carrollwood Friday. They got into it at a residence, and we have different versions of what transpired that we were able to piece together the best we could, based on statements and video,” Tregre said.

According to Tregre, the incident escalated to gunfire after a mother saw “multiple individuals fighting her child.”

“She pulled out her weapon and fired at the car of the occupants who jumped her daughter,” Tregre said. “This is where the conflicting stories begin. She said she saw one of the juveniles with a gun, so she took out her gun and fired her weapon. Of course, the juveniles are stating the lady just came out there and fired at them.”

The mother followed the juveniles as they took off in the vehicle. The juveniles headed to Walmart, where one planned to talk to their mother who worked at the store.

“When they went there to seek help and assistance from the mother, they all pulled in front of the store, abandoned their car, and ran into Walmart,” Tregre said. “That’s when everybody saw them running. They saw police officers parking their cars and running in, and that’s where this whole ‘active shooter’ thing originated,” Tregre said.

One of the juveniles was detained and discovered to have a gun on their person. No shots were fired on Walmart property or inside the store, and no one was injured. All responsible parties were brought into custody.

Police presence was increased at East St. John High School Tuesday morning, and metal detectors were utilized for students entering the campus.

“As the sheriff or any law enforcement agency, how do you stop people from wanting to kill each other after having an argument?” Tregre said. “We will continue trying to do the best we can to make sure this doesn’t keep happening.”