Difficult days in Lafourche Parish

Lafourche Parish’s nearly 90,000 residents were ready to return to normal this week.

After two weeks of heart-wrenching testimony in the first-degree murder trial of Amy Hebert, jurors had returned a guilty verdict. When they were unable to agree on giving the former elementary school para-professional the death sentence, District Judge Jerome Barbera issued a mandatory life sentence.

Hebert stabbed her children, 9-year-old Camille and 7-year-old Braxton, in their Mathews home on Aug. 20, 2007, to get back at her husband who had divorced her two years earlier and subsequently remarried.

After a stormy start, literally, the skies began to open as Hebert was whisked away to the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in St. Gabriel.

With the images of the brutal slayings put aside, Sunday marked a return to the quiet life Lafourche residents pride themselves on experiencing.

But Monday brought more horrific images.

News that a 15-year-old eighth grade Larose-Cut Off Middle School student, armed with a .25-caliber, semi-automatic pistol he had taken from his father’s home during the weekend, stormed into a classroom and fired a shot over a teacher’s head, then fled to a nearby bathroom where he shot himself in the head.

No one else was injured in Monday’s shooting… physically injured, that is.

The teen was listed in critical, but stable condition in Intensive Care Unit at Terrebonne General Medical Center in Houma as of press time. His parents, who were equally as shocked to learn of Monday’s incident, rushed to their son’s side after they were notified of the shooting.

Today, they likely are asking themselves what signs they may have been missed that their child intended to kill and to die. What lead up to Monday’s meltdown?

Students who knew this boy are likely equally as confused and frightened. According to Sheriff Craig Webre, the teen didn’t have a criminal history. And school officials said he was never a “problem child” at school. Given that, how can a classmate choose such a horrific fate?

And parents who endured the endless wait Monday until they were safely reunited with their children learned firsthand what pain those who’ve survived prior shootings must have experienced.

And faculty – including the teacher who stared down the barrel of the loaded handgun – are left wondering what dangers they could potentially face at the hands of their students as they return to their classrooms.

Lafourche Parish is a quiet place to live, normally. In time, it will return to normal. Until then, our prayers are with the people of this community. We’re standing with you as you try to understand the unthinkable. Today, hug your children. Tomorrow will be a better day.