BREAUX BRIDGE — Leola Blanchard was on the phone with 911 operators Tuesday night, reporting a disturbance at her home, when her husband fatally shot her — an incident that would end with her husband and their granddaughter also dead and their adult son critically injured, authorities say.
Clifford Blanchard, 58, shot his wife, then their 3-year-old granddaughter, Ashlynn Grace Blanchard, before his son was able to turn the gun on him and end his life, according to the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The circumstances leading up to the shooting rampage remained unexplained Wednesday afternoon as the couple’s son, Scott Blanchard, remained hospitalized from at least one bullet wound he also suffered at his parents’ La Rue Angelle home, the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office said.
Investigators have not said how many bullets were fired and have not had the opportunity to speak to Scott Blanchard, 32, about what transpired, although he is expected to survive his injuries, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Maj. Ginny Higgins said.
Two unattended Chihuahuas stood guard on Wednesday in the carport of the Blanchards’ white, wooden home, and a brown horse roamed a modest pasture behind the house, where a half-dozen goats lounged beneath the morning shade of a run-down pickup.
Walter Boudreaux, who lives with his wife about 50 yards from the Blanchards’ property, sat on his porch, shading himself from the noonday heat. He described Clifford Blanchard as a quiet man who visited his neighbor on occasion.
“He was under a lot of stress — he was having a lot of heart pain and didn’t want to go back to the hospital,” Boudreaux said, recalling a visit from his neighbor a week ago.
Leola Blanchard called 911 at 7:55 p.m. to report a disturbance at her home and, in the same phone call, soon reported she had been shot by her husband, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Scott Blanchard called 911 next, reporting that he had been shot. When deputies arrived, they discovered that there were three fatalities — Clifford and Leola Blanchard and the little girl.
Married in 1982, Leola Blanchard, 72, and Clifford Blanchard’s relationship is unclear. A judge granted the couple a divorce in 2010, but the judgment never was filed in the court record. Although Leola went by a version of her maiden name, Schexnaider, on her Facebook account, she had been living with Clifford at the La Rue Angelle home.
Clifford Blanchard was a corrections officer at the St. Martin Parish jail for a brief period that ended in 2004, court records show.
None of those involved in the shootings has a violent criminal record in St. Martin Parish.
Donors to a GoFundMe account called “Ashlynn’s Angel Wings” on Wednesday afternoon had raised more than $1,400 of the $7,500 in funeral costs expected for the child’s memorial service at Pellerin Funeral Home.
Services for the three victims had not been finalized.
“What went on in that house — we never heard any fussing or anything,” Boudreaux said, recalling Ashlynn as a “beautiful little girl” he would see on occasion. “But I just couldn’t see him doing that — killing that baby.”
Advocate staff writer Richard Burgess contributed to this report. Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.