State News

Accused cop killer arrested, released days before shooting

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Posted: Jan 28, 2013 5:58 PM by Michael Shingleton
Updated: Jan 28, 2013 7:03 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: Chitimacha, police, shooting, st, mary, parish

FRANKLIN - Chitimacha Police Chief Blaise Smith said the man accused of shooting three law enforcement officers and an elderly man, killing two, was arrested last week for disturbing the peace.

Smith also said 48-year-old Wilbert Thibodeaux was detained last Tuesday by the same officer he's now accused of killing, Sgt. Rick Riggenbach.

Chief Smith called the connection a coincidence.

"I just don't see it," he told News 2 when asked if retaliation could have been a motive in the shooting. "If there would have been something to the arrest, or threats were made or something, I would say yea, but they didn't have that."

St. Mary Parish court documents show Thibodeaux has no prior violent crime arrests, and State Police couldn't find anything similar. Over the weekend neighbors told News 2 Thibodeaux has a history of mental illness, and during both run-ins with the law he was off of his medication.

Investigators remain tight-lipped about specific details regarding the investigation.

"It is our job to protect the integrity of this case," Trooper Stephen Hammons said during a press conference today.

Investigators are awaiting the results of an autopsy which should explain if 78-year-old Eddie Lyons died by fire or gunshot.

Thibodeaux is accused of shooting 78-year-old Eddie Lyons Saturday, then setting fire to a car, truck, shed and trailer with Lyon's body inside. Witnesses called police when they said they saw Thibodeaux walking down the road with a shotgun and a gas can. Police said Thibodeaux fired on them when they made contact with him, killing Riggenbach and wounding two St. Mary Parish Sheriff's deputies, Jason Javier, 22, and Matthew Strickland, 24

Riggenbach had been with the Chitimacha Police Department for more than four years. Before joining the department he served almost 11 years with the St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office.

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