A Louisiana shooting that left four people dead was the result of a man caught up in a custody dispute who snapped, attacking family members and his former boss, police said.
Police are still trying to piece together exactly what happened, but believe that 38-year-old Ben Freeman went on a rampage across two parishes, targeting his ex-wife, former in-laws, his current wife, and the boss who fired him. He shot six people, killing three, before taking his own life.
“We are still investigating motive and trying to piece together the sequence of events along with the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office,” wrote Brennan Matherne, a spokesman for the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office, in an email.
The shooting spree began on Thursday night, when police say Freeman attacked his former in-laws with a shotgun. The attack, which took place in Lafourche Parish about 45 miles from New Orleans, left parish Councilman Louis Philip Gouaux and his daughter Andrea in critical condition and Gouaux’s wife Susan dead.
Close to 20 minutes after the first shooting, police believe Freeman arrived at the home of Milton Bourgeois, the administrator of St. Anne General Hospital who had fired Freeman. Bourgeois was shot at close range and killed while his wife Ann was shot in the leg.
For a stretch on Thursday during the Louisiana shootings, both St. Anne and another hospital where Freeman had once worked were placed on lockdown. It was not known why Freeman was fired, but police reports show that officers were once called for a room that Freeman allegedly damaged. At the time he agreed to seek mental health counseling.
Police later found Freeman’s current wife, Denise Taylor Freeman, dead in the couple’s suburban home. Freeman himself was found dead along U.S. Highway 90, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot.
Though the details are still being pieced together, police believe the Louisiana shootings may have stemmed from a custody dispute between Ben Freeman and his ex-wife, Jeanne Gouaux. Freeman had pleaded guilty to harassment charges against his ex-wife, who filed several protective orders against him. The last protective order had expired in November.
Freeman was allowed only supervised visits with the couple’s four children.
“Clearly, there has been a very difficult and complicated divorce/custody issue going on,” Webre said on Thursday.
The three survivors of the Louisiana shootings remained hospitalized on Friday, with two listed in critical condition.