Update, 3:30 p.m.: Authorities have arrested the man accused of killing Shreveport police officer Thomas LaValley, according to KSLA-TV.
Shreveport — A man who was already wanted in a second-degree murder case was is now the key suspect in the shooting death of a Louisiana police officer, authorities said Thursday, as they vowed to “scour the Earth” to find him.
Authorities launched a wide manhunt for the suspect, 27-year-old Grover Cannon, who was wanted in connection with another murder case when he allegedly shot and killed Police Officer Thomas LaValley on Wednesday night.
“We will scour the Earth. No matter where he goes we will find him,” Shreveport Police Chief Willie Shaw said at a news conference Thursday.
Police spokesman Bill Goodin says Shreveport police, Caddo Parish deputies, along with DeSoto Parish deputies, U.S. Marshals and the State Police have joined the search for Cannon.
LaValley, 29, was shot multiple times while answering a call about a suspicious person at a home in the city’s Queensborough neighborhood. Shaw said neighbors told the officer that the man inside the home was wanted. Shaw says LaValley didn’t know the man was armed, and he went inside and was shot. He was transported to University Health.
Police already had a warrant for Cannon’s arrest on a charge of second-degree murder, which carries an automatic life sentence; they now have one out for him for first-degree murder, which carries a possible death penalty.
Asked if Crime Stoppers had set a reward, Shaw said, “Not at this point. We don’t need that incentive. We will find him. He is our No. 1 priority to locate.”
“No matter what rock he crawls under we will find him,” Shaw said. “I would suggest that he turn himself in immediately. Because we are looking for him. I say ‘we’ in the biggest sense of the word. We are not bound by state lines. We are not bound by county lines. We are not bound by country lines. ... We will not rest until this individual is brought to justice.”
A four-year veteran of the force, LaValley began working as a lawman after more than three years as a television news photographer at KTBS, a CBS-affiliated news station in Shreveport. Shaw described LaValley as “one of our top young people” and a hero who will never be forgotten.
“He was doing what he loved,” Shaw said. “He did not hesitate to confront a bad person.”
Shaw said LaValley came to his office while working at the television station and said he’d applied for a job but had not been hired.
“I told him to apply again, and if he qualified, he would be hired.”
LaValley didn’t believe him, Shaw said, but he assured LaValley that he would be hired if he met the requirements.
Casey Habich, a friend who worked with LaValley at KTBS, said LaValley became interested in becoming a police officer after he worked the crime beat on the night shift at the TV station for a few years.
But his path to becoming an officer wasn’t smooth.
“He tried three times and on the third time he called me and told me he made it into the police academy … but once he did get there he was at the top of his graduating class,” Habich said.
Habich said LaValley was a dependable, easy-going friend.
“Thomas was just a genuine southern Louisiana guy,” Habich said, who drank Miller Lite beer after work and watched football on Sundays.
“We lost a good guy,” Habich said. “He was one of the good guys.”
LaValley worked to help people, he said. LaValley’s death wasn’t only a personal loss but a community loss, Habich said.
“I can confidently say when he walked in (to the house where he was shot) last night, he thought he was going to go in to help,” Habich said. “That’s what he got in return, and no one deserves that. That just hurts everyone.”
LaValley graduated from Northwestern State University, where he majored in biology, and attended high school in St. Amant where he was a wrestler.
Retired St. Amant High School wrestling coach Earnest Brown remembered LaValley on Thursday.
“He was a great student,” Brown said. “He was also a great team member.”
Brown said LaValley was at the school when the wrestling team was first started.
“He was one of the founding members of our team,” Brown said. “He was a great kid. He just really believed in the team, and he was always around us. He was like family.”
Brown said there were two girls on the wrestling team.
“He used to have to wrestle them because he was in their weight class,” Brown said. One of the girls “used to kick his butt, and he used to get back up and get back in it. He never quit. He just kept going.”
By his senior year, Brown said, LaValley became a good wrestler.
“When he wrestled with us he was a small kid,” Brown said. “Thomas came back after college big and muscular.”
Brown said when he heard LaValley was on the police force, “it shocked me.”
“Even though he was a wrestler and could be an aggressive person on the mat, he was just a mild-mannered person,” Brown said.
The mayor of Shreveport issued a statement decrying the death.
“Last night, we lost one of our brave, uniformed officers in the line of duty. Our hearts are saddened,” Mayor Ollie Tyler. “We ask for the community’s prayers for this officer’s family and SPD as we grieve the loss of one of our own who paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving and protecting the citizens of this city.”
Advocate staff writers Danielle Maddox, Ellyn Couvillion and David J. Mitchell contributed to this report.