Counseling begins for classmates of slain St. Amant High School senior

Counseling begins for classmates of slain St. Amant High School senior
Source: Camille Jeanne LeBlanc
Source: Camille Jeanne LeBlanc

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - Counseling sessions began Monday following a weekend stabbing that investigators say took the life of a senior at St. Amant High School.

Principal Mia Edwards said 50 classmates of Todd "TJ" Toups, Jr. took time out of their fall break Monday to speak with counselors at the high school.

More students came to school Monday for other reasons.

Senior Camille Jeanne LeBlanc, a friend of Toups, recalled the circumstances of Saturday during a break from her cheerleading practice.

"People were shocked and couldn't understand what was happening," said St. LeBlanc.

Along with cheerleading, LeBlanc is also into theater. She and Toups shared the stage in the spring during St. Amant's production of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible." Toups played one of the judges in the famed Salem Witch Trials.

"It was beautiful. He did fantastic," said LeBlanc. "Whether we were reading scripts or performing onstage or rehearsing, he was confident in his character and who he wanted to be, what he wanted to do. Theater was his passion."

The sheriff said Toups was stabbed to death Saturday at a trailer park on Roddy Road just hours before the school's Homecoming dance. A decision was made to go on with the dance and for LeBlanc that didn't feel right.

"Our family member just passed away and I couldn't understand how to have fun on a night with such dreary moments," said LeBlanc.

Principal Edwards said the school got the official word of Toups' death from the sheriff after the dance had started. LeBlanc said she got the news before the dance started while she was at dinner with her Homecoming group.

Toups' family announced Monday that they've raised enough money to cover funeral expenses. Online donations hit $20,000 in just one day.

The Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office provided no new information Monday about the stabbing investigation.

A 16-year-old boy, who authorities say is a former St. Amant student, is charged with second-degree murder. It is unknown if he will be tried in court as an adult or as a juvenile.

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