Last of trio involved in 2015 shooting of deputy pleads guilty, sentenced

DONALDSONVILLE, LA (WAFB) - The last of three defendants has pleaded guilty in connection with the 2015 shooting of an Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office deputy.

On May 22, John McCullen, 38, of Florida, pleaded guilty in Ascension Parish District Court to conspiracy to commit first degree murder and conspiracy to commit armed robbery following the shooting of Deputy James Atkins and the armed robbery of a Donaldsonville resident.


Back on January 20, 2015, Deputy Atkins spotted a vehicle matching the description of one used by three suspects after the theft of ammo from the Donaldsonville Walmart earlier that same day. Atkins followed the vehicle, and while waiting for backup to arrive, initiated a traffic stop. The driver stopped the car, and the front seat passenger, identified as Chadwick Schwender, 31, got out of the car and fired multiple shots, hitting Atkins in the hand.

Atkins ran to a nearby home, where the homeowner called 911. Schwender and the other suspects, identified as McCullen and Jennifer Mcghee, 31, fled the area in the car, which was found to be stolen. They fled to a nearby home, where they held the homeowner at gunpoint and stole his car keys.

The three tried to flee in this car, but could not get it to start. Schwender then got back in the original car and fled, leaving McCullen and Mcghee behind.

Mcghee was arrested shortly thereafter. A car chase then ensued after deputies spotted Schwender in the stolen car. Schwender refused to stop and then crashed in a nearby ditch. Deputies were then able to arrest him.

Several hours later, McCullen was located in a wooded area and arrested.

On May 15, 2017, Mcghee pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. She was sentenced to 15 years in jail with credit for time served.

Then on March 15, 2018, Schwender pleaded guilty to attempted first degree murder and armed robbery. He was sentenced to 40 years in jail with credit for time served. His sentence will be served without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.

And on May 22, 2018, McCullen pleaded guilty as well and was sentenced to 25 years in jail with credit for timed served. His sentence will also be served without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.

McCullen and Mcghee are also facing charges in Florida in connection with a homicide.

Judge Jessie LeBlanc presided over the case.

Copyright 2018 WAFB. All rights reserved.