Victims, suspected shooter identified in apparent murder-suicide

Authorities release identities of victims, shooter in Zachary murder-suicide

ZACHARY, La. (WAFB) - Officials have identified a man and two women who were killed in an apparent murder-suicide in Zachary.

Police say the shooting happened around 3:30 p.m. in the 6600 block of Martin Drive on Wednesday, April 8.

The normally quiet street located near the Fennwood Hills Country Club turned into a crime scene.

“Heard a lot of policemen coming down the road and I was wondering what was going on,” said Bill Umstetter, a neighbor.

Neighbors react to what police believe was a murder-suicide that left 3 people dead

“I thought that it was the Easter bunny coming around, because they {Zachary PD] do the Easter bunny coming through, but it wasn’t. It was the sheriff’s [office] and the firetrucks and everything,” said Trisha Hodges, another neighbor.

Officials with the Zachary Police Department say three people were killed; Deborah Watts, 48, of Baton Rouge, Beverly Watts, 48, of Lafayette, and the suspected shooter, James Brannon, 77.

The Zachary Police Department, the Zachary Fire Department, EMS, and the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office all came out in full force to Martin Drive to investigate.

“He [my son] woke up to sirens. Being a teenager, he was asleep. He woke up to the sirens, looked out the window, and said there was a helicopter in our backyard,” said Hodges.

Hodges’ son was home alone at the time, and she was frightened not knowing what had happened near her home.

“When he calls me and says that there’s SWAT team outside the house and one of our neighbors has gone on a shooting spree, I panicked,” said Hodges.

Police Chief David McDavid says when first responders arrived at the home, they tried to revive the victims. He added that two other people were present at the home at the time of the shooting and were interviewed by detectives.

“They did life support measures on some of the victims here at the scene. After that, it had been confirmed by EMS that the three victims have died and passed away here at this residence,” said McDavid.

A neighbor says a female resident of the home, Reba Brannon, died earlier this week after battling cancer.

Anyone who may be experiencing thoughts of suicide, or of hurting others, should call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (day or night) at 1-800-273-8255.

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