LOCKPORT, La. - A nurse embroiled in a custody fight with his ex-wife killed his current wife before shooting his former in-laws and his onetime boss in a rampage that spanned two parishes in Louisiana, leaving three people dead and three wounded. He then fatally shot himself in the head, authorities said.
All three survivors remained hospitalized today, two in critical condition, Brennan Matherne, a spokesman for the Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office, said in an email. He said deputies are still investigating the motive.
Preliminary evidence shows that Ben Freeman, 38, first killed his wife, Denise Taylor Freeman, 43, before he went on a rampage and shot the others Thursday, Maj. Malcolm Wolfe wrote in an email.
Denise Freeman's body was found in a bathtub, and an autopsy showed that she suffocated and drowned, Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter said today.
Ben Freeman then attacked his former in-laws with a shotgun in Lafourche Parish about 45 miles southwest of New Orleans, wounding parish Councilman Louis Phillip Gouaux (pronounced "go") and Gouaux's daughter Andrea, Matherne said. Louis Gouaux was shot in the neck, while Andrea Gouaux suffered spinal damage, the sheriff's office said in a news release. Both were in critical, but stable, condition after surgery today in New Orleans, Matherne said. Gouaux's wife, Susan, was dead when deputies arrived, he said.
About 20 minutes after the first shootings, Freeman arrived at the home of Milton Bourgeois, CEO of Ochsner (OX-ner) St. Anne General Hospital in nearby Raceland, about 8 miles from Lockport. Bourgeois was shot and killed at close range; his wife, Ann, was shot in the leg and was listed in stable condition at a hospital, Matherne said.
Bourgeois had been CEO of the hospital in Raceland since 1988, Giselle Hecker, spokeswoman for Ochsner Health Systems, said in an email.
Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said Freeman worked at the hospital as a registered nurse until 2011, when he was fired. He said police had been called there previously after Freeman damaged a room. Freeman told officers he would seek mental help, Webre said.
But in a teleconference later today, Ochsner officials said Freeman had resigned voluntarily, citing personal reasons. The officials said he had worked at the hospital from May 1998 to April 2011, and that he was considered an on-call employee for another five months after that.
Freeman also had worked at two other hospitals, which along with St. Anne had been placed on lockdown for a time on Thursday.