GRETNA, LA (WVUE) - People who knew a Jefferson Parish sheriff's sergeant, whose shooting death was first labeled a suicide, say they had their doubts.
Deputies arrested the wife of Sgt. Troy Smith and booked her with second-degree murder.
Smith was a career police officer and a veteran of both the Jefferson Parish Sheriffs Office, where he served as a hostage negotiator, as well as the NOPD, where colleagues were stunned to learn of his death last month.
"Well-liked, enjoyed his craft and worked on it, ended up going to Jefferson Parish to instruct other officers in the way to perform their duties the right way," said former New Orleans police officer Eric Hessler.
Deputies say Smith's wife, Shantel Wagner, called them out to the couple's Waggaman home June 17 at 11:25 p.m. They found Smith in a bedroom suffering from a single gunshot wound to the head.
"I was shocked. I was really shocked. We didn't know what happened," said neighbor Karen Lonadier.
Wagner told detectives her husband had attempted suicide, something that friends say didn't add up.
"He was definitely a career officer, dedicated, and in the military also...not the kind of guy you would think would take this route, and in the belief of his friends he apparently didn't take this route," said Hessler.
"He was very attentive. He was the kind of guy who opened the door for her, let her in first, always met her with a hug," said a neighbor who asked not to be identified.
Smith died at the hospital a week later, leaving behind two sons.
But the investigation didn't stop there. Investigators kept asking questions and processing evidence, and on Wednesday announced a major development in the case. Homicide investigators identified Wagner as a suspect, and arrested her this morning in Lafitte.
"I'm really confused and hurt, to think that I can believe she was innocent. I'm upset about this," said a neighbor.
Deputies booked Wagner with second-degree murder of a man who neighbors say was always there for them.
"He always helped us when he could. We helped each other like neighbors should," said Lonadier.
"This happened right across the street. He was a good guy. This shouldn't have happened," the neighbor said.
Smith worked for attorney Leo Palazzo, who is now representing her. He put out a statement saying Smith's death was a tragedy. He also said Smith had been depressed and was taking muscle relaxers, and the death was a suicide and not a homicide.
Smith was a graduate of St. Augustine High School and also attended the Citadel in South Carolina.
Wagner is being held in the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center on a $500,000 bond.