Kevin Kimball was walking around TJ Ribs on Saturday afternoon when a server approached and handed him a small silver medallion engraved with the image of a Catholic saint.
Kimball, managing partner of the restaurant, could not identify the saint on the medallion, but he still understood the symbolism of the gesture.
“That’s the kind of thing that’s happening,” Kimball said.
Kimball’s restaurant reopened Saturday at 4 p.m., less than 24 hours after a dining room murder-suicide that left two men dead.
Shawn Jones, 27, shot and killed Raymond Levie, 50, chief of investigations with the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office. Jones then killed himself.
Baton Rouge Police spokesman Cpl. L’Jean McKneely said Saturday police are still trying to determine a motive for the murder-suicide.
“We know what happened. We know how it happened,” McKneely said. “We believe it was premeditated.”
Jones is the brother of Levie’s estranged girlfriend, McKneely said.
McKneely said Levie’s relationship with Jones’ sister was rocky, with police and the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s Office getting involved at one point.
“There was something there that was going on,” McKneely said. “As to what, we don’t know.”
East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Shannon Cooper said Saturday he did not know any details of Levie’s relationship with Jones’ sister.
He said all he had heard was talk that their relationship was unstable.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with his work,” Cooper said. “It has to do with his private life.”
Kimball said Saturday he had looked at the surveillance tape of the incident.
Jones arrived in the restaurant first, Kimball said. Levie came in later, shook Jones’ hand and sat down.
Kimball said the two men sat at their table for about 20 minutes before anything happened. Levie later seated himself in the chair next to Jones, Kimball said.
Then, all of a sudden, Jones stood up, shot Levie then shot himself, Kimball said.
Kimball said that based on what he saw, he thinks the shooting was a “calculated incident.”
“The only person who could tell us what was going on was the shooter,” Kimball said.
The staff of TJ Ribs met Saturday morning at the restaurant to console one another, Kimball said.
Two pastors — Rev. Cleo Milano and Bishop Raymond Johnson — as well as Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White and restaurant founding partner T.J. Moran stopped by to offer their support.
Kimball said he encouraged employees still shaken by the incident to take time away from work if necessary.
“It’s not the business that I’m concerned about,” he said.
Kimball said about 90 percent of employees made the meeting.
He said two servers originally scheduled to work Saturday decided not to work, and one resigned altogether.
Workers hustled around TJ Ribs on Saturday afternoon while preparing for the restaurant’s reopening.
The front door was wide open, even as employees were still setting up.
Large numbers of people called the restaurant Saturday saying they would dine there Saturday night, Kimball said.
Other restaurateurs in Baton Rouge also called to offer their condolences, Kimball said.
“We’re seeing the opposite effect of what the naysayers are talking about,” Kimball said.