St. Mary

Jan 28, 2013 7:36 PM by Chris Welty

Still Many Unanswered Questions Into Deadly Shooting

"We are united as one. It doesn't matter about the shape of our badges, the colors of our uniforms. Everyday, we come out to do the exact same thing....protect and serve the people which we serve," said Trooper Stephen Hammons.

Three police officers shot over the weekend in Saint Mary Parish, one of them killed. They're being remembered by family, friends and fellow officers. The case has rattled the small community. It started with what seemed like a routine call, but within a matter of hours, three people were shot, two men were dead including a police officer.

It all happened Saturday morning in Charenton. Officers were responding to a house fire on Flatown Road near the Cypress Bayou Casino.

There was in fact a fire, but there was also a man with a gun. Three first responders were shot, one of them a Chitamacha police officer was killed.

Also dead is 78-year old Eddie Lyons. The fire was at his mobile home, his body was found after the fire was out.

The suspect is Wilbert Thibodeaux, he's being held away from the St. Mary Parish jail for his safety in Iberia Parish. He is facing two counts of first degree murder, two counts of attempted first degree murder and one count of arson.

All of the officers have been identified. Killed in the shooting was Sargeant Rick Riggenbach of the Chitimacha Police Department. He's worked in law enforcement for 15 years including time with the St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office. He was also a veteran of the United States Navy. Riggenbach leaves behind a wife and four children. He was 52 years old.

Two St. Mary Parish Deputies remain hospitalized including 23 year old Jason Javier who's been with the department for two years.

24-year-old Matthew Strickland who rejoined the department this month after serving in the National Guard. Both deputies are expected to recover and are said to be in good spirits.

There are still many unanswered questions about what happened Saturday.

With heavy hearts, law enforcement from across the state packed into the St. Mary Sheriff's Office to shed light on Saturday's deadly shooting.

"Certainly there are some answers we do have, but we have to maintain the integrity of the case and the D.A.'s job," said Trooper Stephen Hammons.

Many questions remain unanswered including why Wilbert Thibodeaux allegedly went on a rampage. Troopers would not say if Thibodeaux owned the shotgun they say he used and there's still no answer as to who shot Thibodeaux.

"Not only do we have more people to interview, but there's a lot of information we need to get from those interviews we've conducted and continue to conduct," said Hammons.

Sergeant Rick Riggenbach of the Charenton Police Department was the first on scene. Dispatch reported there was an armed man walking down the street with a gun and gas canister.

"that's why the deputies were arriving there as well."

As far as Eddie Lyons, troopers will not say if he was shot inside or out of his trailer before it went up in flames.

Thibodeaux was arrested last week for disturbing the peace, that's according to Riggenbach's wife, but authorities wouldn't confirm. Sergeant Riggenbach was the arresting officer.

"He threatened to kill my husband and he threatened to shoot the casino up," said Bonnie Riggenbach.

Chris Welty
cwelty@katctv.com

 

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