Brother of victim in Charenton shootings was also an eyewitness

Eddie Lyons (Source: KLFY)
Eddie Lyons (Source: KLFY)

CHARENTON, LA (WAFB) - The community of Charenton is remembering the policeman killed in the line of duty on Saturday.

Black ribbons mark the entrance to the small town of Charenton. Bouquets of balloons fly at the Chitimacha Tribal Police station along with signs of condolences and remembrances of Sgt. Rick Riggenbach, 52, who was shot and killed.

Authorities said he was responding to calls from residents in Charenton who complained Wilbur Thibodeaux, 48, was roaming their streets with a shotgun and a gas can.

Investigators said when Riggenbach confronted Thibodeaux, the suspect shot him.

Police Chief Blaise Smith said he was with Riggenbach when he took his final breath.

"It's been pretty hard on the department and the community," Smith said.

Thibodeaux is also accused of shooting St. Mary Parish deputies Matthew Strickland, 24, and Jason Javier, 23, who were called to the scene for backup.

Investigators soon learned Eddie Lyons, 78, had also died at the hands of Thibodeaux.

His brother, Curley Lyons, said he watched as Thibodeaux unleashed his fury.

"He had a gun and a gas can," Lyons said. "He shot my brother first and started burning things. He was headed for the casino."

State Fire Marshal Butch Browning said Thibodeaux set fire to several things on the elderly man's property, including his trailer, shed and car.

Smith said Riggenbach arrested Thibodeaux on Tuesday for disturbing the peace. People in the community believe it was a sign of what was to come.

Lyons said Thibodeaux, who was reportedly schizophrenic, had ignored doctor's orders.

"He quit taking the medicines he was supposed to be taking because he thought he was healed and didn't have to take the medication," Lyons explained.

Investigators would not confirm nor deny whether Thibodeaux is mentally ill, only that it is part of their investigation.

Meanwhile, Lyons and relatives of the men shot in uniform are taking the news as it comes and dealing with the tough reality the best way they know how.

"I grieve like everybody else. There's nothing you can do about it. You have to make sure you don't let it kill you," Lyons said.

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