The 40-year-old man who was fatally shot outside a home in Pointe Coupee Parish on Monday night had led a sheriff’s deputy on a short vehicle and foot chase before he was killed, police said.
State Police spokesman Maj. Doug Cain said Mario Celestino was trying to evade police because he had kidnapped the mother of his estranged girlfriend shortly before the shooting.
But it wasn’t a bullet from the Pointe Coupee Parish deputy that ended Celestino’s life. Cain said Celestino, 149 Cypress Cove, Youngsville, was shot in the head by 24-year-old Mark A. Gaspard, who injected himself into the fray surrounding Celestino’s attempted capture.
Gaspard, 8328 La. 418, Batchelor, was booked into the Pointe Coupee Parish jail on a count of manslaughter. His bail was set at $100,000.
Local authorities said Celestino was heading to the home of Gaspard’s girlfriend — who is the sister of Celestino’s ex-girlfriend — when the series of events unfolded Monday afternoon leading to his death.
They began in Avoyelles Parish, where Sheriff Doug Anderson said Celestino kidnapped his ex-girlfriend’s mother at gunpoint.
“He forced her to tell him where her daughter was,” Anderson said Tuesday. “They drove into Pointe Coupee.”
Celestino’s ex-girlfriend had filed a restraining order against him in Lafayette Parish, Anderson said.
A Pointe Coupee Parish sheriff’s deputy thwarted Celestino’s attempt to reach his ex-girlfriend about 4 p.m. Monday after members of her family placed a 911 call asking for police protection at the home of the ex-girlfriend’s sister in the 8300 block of La. 418 in Innis.
Authorities said Tuesday that Celestino’s ex-girlfriend had been hiding out there.
“One of my deputies was able to stop the vehicle after a short chase near the front yard of the house,” Pointe Coupee Sheriff Bud Torres said. “My deputy was able to get him out of the car and on the ground.”
As the deputy was approaching Celestino to put him in handcuffs and place him under arrest, Cain said, he jumped up and took off running toward the house.
He said Gaspard, unbeknownst to the deputy, arrived at the scene at some point and “when the suspect turned back to face the deputy, (Gaspard) shot him in the head.”
Torres called State Police in to handle the investigation of the shooting; Pointe Coupee is handling the kidnapping portion of the case.
“My deputy was involved, and although he didn’t fire the shot that killed the man, he is a witness to the actual shooting,” Torres said. “So I didn’t think it was appropriate for us to investigate this ourselves.”
Authorities said no other people were injured in Monday’s incident.
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