SUNSET, La. (AP) — The man accused of fatally stabbing two sisters and killing a Louisiana police officer with his own gun then barricading himself inside a convenience store was a cousin of the slain officer, officials said.
Harrison Lee Riley Jr. had stabbed the two women, who were trying to protect his wife during a domestic dispute, when Officer Henry Nelson responded to the call Wednesday in the small south Louisiana town of Sunset, authorities said.
Nelson was shot and killed, apparently with his own weapon, before Riley crashed his car into the front of a convenience store a few blocks away and barricaded himself inside, St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said.
A SWAT team took Riley into custody after firing tear gas into the store and using hammers and fire axes to smash their way inside, Guidroz said.
One of the sisters, Shameka Johnson, 40, died Wednesday. Shurlay Johnson, 34, died early Thursday. Riley’s wife, Courtney Jolivette Riley, remained hospitalized in stable condition with stab wounds, authorities said.
Harrison Riley was hospitalized following his arrest complaining of pain in his ribs, Guidroz said. Riley faces charges of first-degree murder of a police officer, first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. The officer-involved charge carries a possible death penalty.
Nelson, 51, was the second Louisiana police officer killed in four days and the fifth in four months. Louisiana State Police Trooper Steven Vincent died Monday, a day after being shot when he stopped to help a stranded motorist.
Sunset Police Chief Luis Padilla said Nelson was outgoing and friendly. He was to be off starting Friday for a monthlong vacation with his teenage daughter, he said.
“Nothing made him mad,” Padilla said. “He loved life. Came into work with a smile and left work with a smile.”
Riley and Nelson, who had been a member of Sunset’s 14-person department since 2002, were cousins, Padilla said.
Guidroz said the violence began at the house belonging to the Johnsons’ mother with an argument between Courtney and Harrison Riley.
“He began stabbing the Johnson sisters when they intervened to protect his wife,” Guidroz said. “Officer Nelson arrived, and a fight ensued.”
After shooting Nelson, investigators said Harrison Riley jumped into his car and soon crashed into the convenience store.
Nini Truong, 15, said she was doing homework in the office of her parents’ store when the car barreled into the storefront.
“Everybody’s freaking out,” she said. “People are trying to get out and I didn’t know what to do.”
Truong said a bloodied man got out of the car and began pushing people around and demanding to know where her father was.
“I was just wondering what he wanted to do with my dad,” she said. Her parents were not in the store at the time.
Clerk Tammy Adams said she recognized the man as a regular customer, but did not know his name. “I’m just grateful to God that I was able to get out of there,” she said, crying.
Guidroz said he was told Riley is originally from New Orleans and has an extensive criminal history there. He had recently moved to nearby Arnaudville, the sheriff said.
Three other Louisiana officers have been killed in recent months. Shreveport Officer Thomas LaValley was shot to death Aug. 5, New Orleans Police Officer Daryle Holloway on June 20, and New Orleans public housing police Officer James Bennett Jr. on May 25.
Associated Press writers Janet McConnaughey and Chevel Johnson contributed to this report from New Orleans.
This story has been corrected to show that Nelson was to begin his vacation Friday, not Thursday.
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