NEW IBERIA — Family and friends of a New Iberia woman who was murdered Tuesday night are celebrating her life.
The crowd gathered at the Church's Chicken restaurant on West St. Peter Street Wednesday where Fabeka Hayes worked.
According to a Church's employee, Hayes was closing the restaurant Tuesday night when 51-year-old Clarence Payton arrived, forced his way in, and shot her in the restaurant.
Family members reluctantly identified Payton as Hayes's boyfriend.
Payton was arrested Wednesday morning by New Iberia police on a first-degree murder charge. He remains in jail without bond.
The Iberia Parish Coroner's Office confirmed the identity of the victim as Fabeka Hayes, 31. No other details were released pending the investigation.
Balloons and a makeshift memorial are now near the entrance of the Church's Chicken. The restaurant was closed Wednesday and will remain closed until further notice. Hayes's family and friends gathered outside for a vigil.
"There's no way to describe the feeling. I've never felt this way before," said Hayes's brother, Michael Marshall. "It's still surreal. It hasn't yet hit home yet."
Some family members saw Hayes just yesterday, saying there was trouble in her relationship with Payton.
"We had went to Walmart. She had went to go get some clothes and stuff to go to the hotel. She didn't have any clothes because he took her clothes," Hayes's niece said. "She didn't bother nobody. She was a nice person. She stayed to herself. She liked to play bingo. The day she had came, she was playing bingo. She had won $30. She was happy."
Although Hayes's life ended tragically, her loved ones are remembering her for who she was.
"I love you sister. We all love you. We adore you," said Marshall. "Rest in peace."
We reached out to Church Chicken for a statement:
"We are deeply saddened by the death of one of our employees. She was a remarkable individual and to know that some who supposedly loved her could do this is unthinkable. Domestic violence is a real problem in this country. Too many lose their life at the hands of their abusers.
While we remain closed to allow her coworkers, family, and friends time to mourne, we are planning a benefit when we reopen where a portion of the proceeds will be provided to her family."
Jordan Lippincott posted live footage from the gathering:
Here's what New Iberia police told us this morning:
New Iberia Police say that a man has been arrested in connection with a Tuesday night fatal shooting at a New Iberia business.
The department says 51-year-old Clarence Joesph Payton was located and arrested Wednesday morning in connection with the shooting death of a woman.
The woman was located at the Church's Chicken restaurant in the 600 block of W. St. Peter Street.
Payton will be booked into the Iberia Parish Jail on a charge of first-degree murder.
The name of the victim has not been released.
Police said in an earlier release that the incident was being worked as a domestic-related shooting.
An investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call the New Iberia Police Department at (337) 369-2306 or Iberia Crimestoppers at 346-TIPS.
If you or someone you know is being abused, help is available. You can contact Lafayette-based domestic violence crisis center Faith House.
They have information on how to leave safely and can get you set up in an emergency shelter.
You can also call the national domestic abuse hotline at 1-888-411-1333.
If you're in danger, call 911.
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