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Man suspected of killing 5, including parents, arrested in Virginia

Louisiana shooting suspect faces murder charges
Louisiana shooting suspect faces first-degree murder charges 02:17

Shootings in Louisiana: What we know

  • Five people are dead in two separate — but related — incidents.
  • Dakota Theriot, 21, was arrested Sunday morning in Virginia on first-degree murder and other charges.
  • Two of the victims were the suspect's parents.
  • Evelyn Ernest, the mother of one victim and grandmother of two others, told CBS News that her granddaughter and the suspect were briefly in a romantic relationship.

New Orleans — Authorities in Louisiana said a 21-year-old accused of killing his parents and three others in two separate but related shootings Saturday has been arrested in Virginia after an overnight manhunt. Dakota Theriot, who faces charges of first-degree-murder, illegal use of weapons and home invasion, was captured Sunday in Richmond County, Virginia.

The Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office announced Theriot's arrest in a Facebook post Sunday morning and said he will be brought back to Louisiana to face charges.

Authorities say Theriot first shot and killed three people — the woman believed to be his girlfriend, her brother and father — in Livingston Parish before taking her father's truck and driving to neighboring Ascension Parish where he shot and killed his parents.

Deputies with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office in Virginia said they received a request from a family member of Theriot's to check their residence. While the deputies were on site, Theriot arrived at the residence with a firearm pointed out the window of a vehicle, police said. The deputies sought cover and Theriot dropped the weapon upon command and was arrested, police said.

Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre told a news conference that deputies were called to a trailer in the city of Gonzales for a "domestic incident" on Saturday morning. Upon arrival, deputies found two people who had been shot but were still alive: Elizabeth and Keith Theriot, both 51. CBS affiliate WAFB-TV reports the couple was shot in the bedroom, authorities said.

Dakota Theriot  Richmond County Sheriff

Deputies were able to interview Keith Theriot before the couple was transported to a hospital in Baton Rouge, where they later died. From that interview, authorities identified Dakota Theriot, the couple's son, as "our prime suspect in this case," Webre said.

The sheriff said three other shooting deaths occurred Saturday in neighboring Livingston parishes, about 70 miles west of New Orleans. Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard  confirmed on Facebook that three deaths happened in his parish and identified the victims as Billy Ernest, 43; Tanner Ernest, 17; and Summer Ernest, 20. 

There were two juveniles found at the scene, a 7-year-old and a 1-year-old, both of whom are safe, Ard said.

Ard said Summer Ernest and Dakota Theriot were in a relationship and that Theriot had been living with her family for a few weeks.

Webre said the three victims in Livingston were shot first, and he then shot his parents.

Theriot had been considered "armed and dangerous" and was last seen driving a stolen 2004 gray and silver Dodge Ram pickup.

Evelyn Ernest, the mother of Billy Ernst and grandmother of Tanner and Summer, told CBS News that Summer and the suspect were briefly in a romantic relationship. She said she met Theriot only once.

Theriot's parents were shot in their trailer on Saturday morning.

"The father was gravely injured at the time we found him and has since passed away," said Webre. But before he died, Webre said authorities were able to get a "dying declaration from him, and only enough information to let us know that it was his son that committed this act."

Webre had said there were indications that Theriot was traveling east and could have been in another state.

"We're going to work every lead. We're going to follow every tip," he said during the evening news conference.

Ard said Dakota Theriot was believed to be armed with at least one handgun.

"We do not have a motive. It is still undetermined," Ard said.

Crystal DeYoung, Billy Ernest's sister, told The Associated Press that she believes Theriot had just started dating her niece, Summer Ernest.

"My family met him last weekend at a birthday party and didn't get good vibes from him," DeYoung said. She said she wasn't sure how her niece and Theriot met, but that she believed the relationship was relatively new.

"My mom is a good judge of character and she just thought he was not good," DeYoung said of Theriot.

DeYoung said she skipped the birthday party and didn't meet Theriot herself. DeYoung said Summer and Tanner Ernest were two of Billy's three children. He was also raising his wife's children.

DeYoung said Theriot doesn't have a vehicle and she's not sure how he ended up at the Ernest home on Saturday, but after the killings, he took off in her brother's truck.

There were also two young children in the home at the time. DeYoung said a 7-year-old took the baby out of the house and went to a neighbor's.

DeYoung said her brother, niece and nephew were good people.

"They all had very good hearts. They trusted people too much," she said, as she began crying. "They all loved unconditionally."

Charlenne Bordelon lives near the house where the Ernests were killed. She told The Advocate newspaper that two young children from the house ran to her home. They were uninjured and asked for help after the shooting.

Bordelon said Theriot was the older daughter's boyfriend and that he'd recently moved in with the family but she did not know him.

Webre said Dakota had lived with his parents briefly but was asked to leave the residence and not return.

"I would not approach this vehicle. We feel no doubt that Dakota is going to be armed and dangerous, and we need to bring him to justice really quick," Webre said.

Webre said Dakota Theriot had some run-ins with law enforcement in other parishes that he described as misdemeanor-type incidents that did not include violence: "Certainly nothing of the magnitude that we've seen today."

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