A St. Landry Parish grand jury has indicted Harrison Lee Riley Jr. on counts of murder and attempted murder in an August rampage in Sunset that left two people dead and several injured, ending only after an hourslong police standoff inside the town’s convenience store.
Riley, 36, of Arnaudville, faces two counts of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his cousin Shameka Johnson and the shooting death of Sunset Cpl. Henry Nelson, a police officer and relative of the family who arrived to try to defuse the situation before, police say, Riley shot him dead with the officer’s service gun.
Riley also faces two counts of attempted first-degree murder in the shooting and stabbing of his wife, Courtney Jolivette, and the stabbing of another cousin, Surlay Johnson.
A grand jury handed down the indictment on Tuesday.
“It’s extremely difficult for all of us,” Shaterral Johnson said when reached by phone on Wednesday. The Grand Coteau mayor said her sister, Shameka Johnson, died saving her relatives inside the family’s Anna Street home during the Aug. 26 rampage.
The Johnsons’ mother, 66-year-old Jacqueline Johnson, also was stabbed — six days after having triple bypass heart surgery — and on Wednesday remained in the care of a Lafayette physical rehabilitation hospital. Riley does not face charges in her injuries.
“Shameka did everything, basically, for all of us, and she lived with my mom. So this is very hard for mom, because they were always together,” Shaterral Johnson said.
Shameka Johnson’s teenage daughter was inside the house at the time, along with a 3-year-old cousin. Both were unharmed.
Riley also faces a count of aggravated criminal damage on accusations he drove his wife’s car into the Sunset Mini Mart on Napoleon Avenue, where he holed up for more than two hours in a police standoff before authorities removed him from the property and arrested him.
Prosecutors have not indicated whether they’ll seek the death penalty. If convicted of first-degree murder, Riley could face either execution or life in prison. He faces up to 50 years in prison without parole on the attempted first-degree murder charges, and up to 15 years for the criminal damage charge, if convicted as charged.
Toxicology reports submitted to the court record during Riley’s November bond hearing reveal he was high on PCP during the crimes.
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.