Friends say teenager died a hero

Around noontime on Oct. 25, in an H.L. Bourgeois High School classroom, David Trahan Jr. led the lunchtime prayer for his student-run Christian group, leaving a dramatic impression with his elders from the Bayou Blue Assembly of God who were there.

The church is one he has been affiliated with for six of his 17 years.

“He was such a great kid,” said Stephanie Pierce, a coordinator of one of the church’s ministries, which does high school outreach and transports students to services. “Our guest speaker, an assistant pastor, said ‘that was an awesome prayer,’ it was something different. He took his spiritual walk very seriously and his top priority was his relationship with God.”

Ten hours later the portly, ever-smiling teen was felled by a single gunshot wound to the chest in his mother’s trailer on Capri Court, off of Bayou Blue Road. A habitual criminal named Rhubin Scott is now charged with murder, and with attempted murder for wounding David’s mother, Kimberly Bonvillain, and his sister, Joei Vendetto, with whom Scott allegedly had a relationship.

Although details of what actually occurred are still sketchy, detectives do not discount what friends and relatives have maintained since the night of the shooting, that David was coming to the aid of his sister and his mother after Scott entered the trailer.

“He had a protective nature, just a big Teddy bear,” Pierce said. “David had a big heart.”

“I’m hurt that such a good person had to lose their life because of someone’s jealousy,” said a long-time friend, Jeret Bunet, who now lives in Texas and has remained close to the family. “He was only trying to protect his mom and sister. He lost his life a hero.”

Unprepared for the tragedy, family members have been seeking donations for proper funeral arrangements to be made. Staff members at the Samart Funeral Home at 635 Bayou Blue Road confirmed Monday that they are accepting money from anyone wishing to help with the expenses. Arrangements were not yet complete as of press time.

While coping with the reality of death, people closest to David focused on his life, lamenting the loss of a young man they were certain had a bright future, who overcame family difficulties and other challenges with his faith, and love of everyone around him.

Last Thanksgiving David literally gave the jacket off his back to a girl who, along with him, was distributing meals with other church members.

“She was cold and didn’t have her jacket and I told her to take mine,” said Pierce. “But he wouldn’t have it, and insisted that she take his. I thought, I’m already cold and he must be freezing to death, but that was David.”

He was called “Dra” by friends and family – pronounced as if it were spelled “Dray.”

Claire Falgout, the mother of one of David’s closest friends, Bryson Remedies, said that after he started high school David tried to ditch the nickname, but that it was already stuck, and just about everyone refers to him as “Dra” to this day.

David often stayed at Falgout’s home, just a few trailers down on Capri Court. Earlier this year, when Bryson entered a National Guard six-month high school program that involved sleeping away in Baton Rouge, the teen was off-put by the loss of companionship. But he continued close ties with the family.

From the time they were both 10-years-old, David and Bryson were inseparable. They fished in a small bayou past Capri Court’s wooded terminus, they often kayaked together, and David accompanied Falgout and her entire family on fishing trips to Cocodrie.

“The two of them always wanted everybody to do right and do good,” Falgout said. “David would often say how he was saving himself for a woman he was going to marry, and that he lived his life for God. The child was amazing.”

He was close as well to Bryson’s 14-year-old sister, Rayven, who considered him a brother and now also copes with loss. As of Monday, Bryson had not been advised that his best friend was no more.

David acted as a mentor to many of the children living on Capri Court, Falgout said, exercising patience and always seeking to comfort or teach.

He only left Louisiana once, she said, on a trip with her and the family to Pensacola where he fell in love with the beach and the surf. An avid swimmer, he would sometimes cause anxiety – along with Bryson – when the pair would swim across bayous on a moment’s notice.

David, she said, was also quick with a joke. He reveled in “roasting” the people he cared about, laughing as he dished out demeaning and exaggerated one-liners. Always, however, the intention was for a laugh, Falgout said. Full of mirth, he would sing whether in the shower or just traveling in a car, impromptu songs with humorous lyrics that made everyone in earshot smile.

Despite turmoil in the trailer at 207 Bayou Blue Road – David’s father currently faces a domestic violence charge for allegedly attempting to strangle his mother – he always maintained a positive attitude. What feelings he may have had related to the problems at home, Falgout said, were rarely disclosed.

On the night he was killed David had only been in the trailer for a little while, having been dropped off by a pastor following Bible study. Falgout said she wishes with all her heart that David would have been in her home that night. The contention that he died a hero is one with which she has no argument.

“I know him, he was like a second son to me,” Falgout said. “And I know that he would have given his life to protect his mother.”

David Trahan Jr.