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Suspect in Louisiana shooting spree brandished gun out truck window before arrest, sheriff says

Family members of La. shooting victims speak
Family members of Louisiana shooting victims speak out 02:43

Police are searching for a motive behind a deadly shooting rampage in Louisiana. Law enforcement says 21-year-old Dakota Theriot killed five people Saturday, including his parents and a 20-year-old woman believed to be his girlfriend. They say he then drove more than 1,100 miles to Virginia where he was arrested.

Rhonda Champagne's world was ripped apart over the weekend, reports CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett. Police said Theriot shot and killed two of her children – 20-year-old Summer Ernest and 17-year-old Tanner Ernest, along with their father, 43-year-old Billy Ernest Jr.

"They said there's been an incident... I never would have thought it'd be my children," Champagne said. "I just can't believe it."

Theriot is being held at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, on no bond. He has an extradition hearing set for Friday that could send him back to Louisiana, where he faces five counts of murder.

Police said Theriot was living with the Ernest family for the last few weeks inside this mobile home in Livingston Parish. Investigators said after shooting the Ernest family, Theriot then went to his family's mobile home nearby where he opened fire on his parents, Keith and Elizabeth Theriot. Both died, but not before the father gave police a vital clue.

"We was able to get a dying declaration from him – only enough information to let us know that it was his son that committed this act," Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office Sheriff Bobby Webre said.
Police say Theriot then drove to Richmond County, Virginia – where his grandmother lives.

But she was gone, checking into a hotel after hearing about the shootings. She asked Richmond sheriffs to check on her home, and officers were there when Theriot pulled up. Richmond County Sheriff Stephan Smith said he "had a pistol in his hand," "had it out of the window," and "officers engaged him."

Theriot dropped the gun and was taken into custody. Relatives of the Ernest family are glad he was arrested but say it doesn't fill the giant void he left them.

"I lost my brother and I lost my niece and my nephew," said Crystal DeYoung, sister of Billy Ernest. "It'll never be happy, it'll never be the same."

The sheriffs in Louisiana said there were no red flags in regards to Theriot before these shootings, but authorities said he was recently asked to leave the Ernest home and not return. The Ernest family said the next step for them is will be particularly painful, planning for the funeral of not one but three beloved family members.

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