A gunman upset with his ex-wife and angry at a former boss apparently killed at least two people and wounded three others before committing suicide in a post-Christmas shooting rampage in southern Louisiana, officials said.
In a statement, the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office said that Ben Freeman, 38, was found late Thursday night in his car along a highway, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Freeman is considered the prime suspect in a shooting attack against his former in-laws and a former employer.
In addition, the sheriff’s office said it had recovered the body of Freeman’s current wife, Denise Taylor Freeman, in the home she shared with her husband.
Detective Maj. Malcolm Wolff of the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office told the Los Angeles Times that an autopsy of the woman was expected to be completed on Friday. Authorities were investigating the death as part of Freeman’s rampage.
According to authorities, the rampage began around 6:40 p.m. on Thursday.
Freeman first attacked his former in-laws with a shotgun in Lockport, La., in Lafourche Parish, about 45 miles southwest of New Orleans. Councilman Louis Phillip Gouaux and his daughter Andrea were wounded. The councilman’s wife, Susan Gouaux, also known as Pixie, was shot to death.
Louis Gouaux and his daughter were taken to a hospital in New Orleans where they were listed in critical but stable condition, authorities said.
Freeman was identified as the former husband of Jeanne Gouaux, another daughter of the councilman.
Jeanne Gouaux had filed several protective orders against Freeman, who had pleaded guilty to harassment charges and was allowed only supervised visits with their four children, Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said during a news conference Thursday night. The most recent protective order expired less than a month ago, he said.
“Clearly, there has been a very difficult and complicated divorce/custody issue going on,” Webre told reporters.
About 20 minutes after the shooting at his former in-laws’ home, Freeman arrived in Raceland, La., about eight miles away and attacked the home of Milton Bourgeois, administrator of Ochsner St. Anne General Hospital. Freeman had worked at the hospital as a nurse until he was fired in 2011, authorities said.
Bourgeois was shot and killed at close range and his wife, Ann, was shot in the leg. She was taken to a New Orleans hospital where she was listed in stable condition.
Later Thursday night, Freeman’s current wife, Denise, was found in their home in Houma in Terrebonne Parish.
About four hours after the initial call from Lockport, Freeman was found dead along U.S. Highway 90 near Bayou Blue.
During the search for Freeman, three area hospitals — Ochsner St. Anne, Thibodaux Regional Medical Center and Terrebonne General Medical Center — were all placed on lockdown for a period of time due to the incidents. Freeman had been employed at each of the hospitals over the last few years, authorities said.