ST. CHARLES PARISH, LA (WVUE) - A St. Charles Parish sheriff's deputy was shot multiple times in an "apparent ambush," deputies say.
Jean Paul Devillier, 56, has been identified by the Sheriff's Office as the shooter. The sheriff said he is a native of St. Charles Parish but was living in a hotel room in Gulfport, Miss.
The incident happened around 9:15 a.m. Thursday near the intersection of Louisiana Street and Highway 90 in Paradis. The sheriff said Devillier was driving a 2014 Chevy Silverado westbound on U.S. 90 and trying to turn onto Louisiana Street. When traffic cleared, he turned and pulled into Time Saver parking lot, where he began to argue with Corp. Bert Hazeltine, 36, who was directing traffic in a school zone at the time. The sheriff said Devillier was upset that Hazeltine did not stop traffic and allow him to turn.
Devillier then went to his father's home a few blocks away and called the sheriff's office, demanding to speak to the sheriff and claiming to be a NCIS agent. He then returned to the Time Saver and called for Hazeltine to approach him, detectives say. As he walked closer to the truck, Hazeltine saw a gun on the dashboard, drew his service weapon and demanded that the suspect show his hands.
"When I looked up again, I saw the police officer that I see there all the time, he's there every morning, he directs the traffic - very nice young man, and saw him walking with his pistol this way," said witness Robert Doublet who was drinking coffee in the Time Saver. "He seemed to be firing the pistol and I heard more fire. And I saw him bend down and he bent over like that shooting and he went down and I assumed he was hit."
Devillier had hung the gun upside down out of the truck window and then opened fire on the deputy with another gun, striking him three times. Hazeltine was able to return fire and call for backup. Following a brief shootout, a deputy and a passerby were able to catch Devillier, who had fled on foot into a ditch.
Hazeltine was rushed to LSU Interim Hospital with wounds to his face, arm and chest. Officers said he was alert at the scene and talking to officers.
Doctors say that Hazeltine might lose his eyesight. One of the bullets penetrated his lung. He was taken into surgery for bleeding in the chest, and is listed in guarded condition. A bullet is lodged between his eye socket and nasal passage.
Two schools were briefly placed on lockdown in St. Charles Parish. Parish school spokeswoman Stevie Crovetto says the lockdowns were briefly in place at R.J. Vial Elementary School and J.B. Martin Middle School. The sheriff's office advised them to place schools on lockdown after the incident. The lockdowns have since been lifted.
Hazeltine has a wife and four children. He has been with the sheriff's department for about 15 years, where he currently serves in the traffic division.
The sheriff said Devillier has a violent past. In 2013, he was terminated from his position and the Transportation Security Administration for "conduct unbecoming." He was also divorced in 2013 and had arrests for aggravated assault and domestic battery.