3 La. Police Officers Shot in Standoff with Attempted Murder Suspect

April 29, 2024
A gunman sought in an earlier armed robbery allegedly shot two people outside a vacant house before setting off an eight-hour standoff with Kenner police and Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputies.

By Michelle Hunter, Joni Hess and Kasey Bubnash

Source The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate

A suspect wanted for attempted murder and armed robbery shot two people outside a Kenner residence Sunday morning, kicking off an eight-hour standoff with SWAT teams during which the man allegedly shot three Kenner police officers and fired on others before a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office sniper shot and killed him, according to authorities.

All five of the injured were in stable condition, said Capt. Michael Cunningham, spokesperson for the Kenner Police Department. Two of the police officers were treated and released while a third remained hospitalized as of Sunday evening.

Authorities confirmed the death of the suspect, Matthew Lathers, 31, who was shot at a residence in the 700 block of Farm Avenue, just south of Airline Drive in Kenner, which was temporarily closed to traffic as police officers flooded the neighborhood and sporadic gunfire kept residents on edge for hours.

"We attempted to negotiate with him numerous times," said Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto, whose SWAT team took over the scene after the Kenner officers were injured.

"We attempted to make contact. There was no answer by any means, nor did he try to negotiate with us. It wasn't until he took the position that he did that they fired upon him," Lopinto said.

Wanted suspect

Kenner police had been searching for Lathers since Tuesday, when he was identified as the gunman who shot and critically wounded a 56-year-old man during a robbery in the 700 block of Coleman Place in Kenner.

Police located Lathers' vehicle at an apartment complex in Metairie on Thursday, but he was still on the run, according to Cunningham.

Two unidentified men were on their way to church when they happened to pull their vehicle over in the 700 block of Farm Avenue at around 9:45 a.m. Sunday. They'd unwittingly parked near the house where Lathers was hiding, a vacant residence belonging to one of his relatives, authorities said.

"I think what happened this morning, some innocent people pulled up to the house, and he thought they were police and fired on them," Lopinto said.

One man was shot in the arm while the other was shot in the stomach, Cunningham said. The victims notified authorities and directed police to the house where the gunfire originated.

Detectives realized the residence was linked to Lathers and located one street over from the scene of Tuesday's attempted murder and robbery, Cunningham said. Kenner Police activated its SWAT team to serve a search warrant at the house.

Officers shot

After about two hours with no answer from the residence, Kenner SWAT team members sent in a robot to determine who was inside the house, Cunningham said. But the robot got caught on something and stopped moving. Three police officers entered the house to check on the device.

"When they were freeing the robot up, they began receiving gunfire," Cunningham said. "One SWAT officer was able to return fire."

Witnesses watching the standoff from about a block away on Morey Street described seeing a Kenner police vehicle race toward the residence so that the wounded officers could be put into the car and taken to waiting ambulances.

"I've never seen anything like this in my life," neighbor Shelby White said. "Seems like he shoots every time they get closer."

Kenner police contacted the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, which dispatched its own SWAT team and took over the scene, Lopinto said. As JPSO deputies arrived to relieve Kenner police, Lathers opened fire on their armored SWAT vehicle, called a BearCat, Lopinto said.

About an hour later, Lathers appeared in the front door armed with a rifle and began shooting at the deputies, again, according to authorities.

"One of our snipers was able to return fire and take him out that time," Lopinto said.

Chaotic scene

During the standoff, authorities closed eastbound lanes of the Airline Drive overpass at Kenner Avenue and evacuated residents in the block surrounding the home where Lathers was holed up.

More than 70 neighbors watched the standoff for hours from the intersection of Farm Avenue and Morey Street, about a block from the house. They described hearing sporadic volleys of gunfire that caused the crowd to momentarily scatter as well as several, loud flashbang grenades accompanied by white smoke.

Among crowd were Lathers' family members who hoped for a positive end to the standoff, one that didn't include his death.

"If he comes out, they might put him in a mental hospital," one woman said.

Others saw it differently. "He ain't going to jail. That's it," another said.

Resident Darryl Price lives a few streets over from Farm Avenue and said he feels like something should have been done about Lathers earlier in the week.

"This is when people are not seen as important. They let him continue to hang around in the community and then raise his hand again on Sunday," he said.


(c)2024 The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate

Visit The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate at www.nola.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Sponsored Recommendations

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Officer, create an account today!