A married couple tried to break into a Baton Rouge home Tuesday morning — until a homeowner shot and killed the husband, authorities say.
The husband, who had a violent criminal history, was armed with a crowbar, authorities added.
The incident began about 10 a.m. Tuesday, when 31-year-old Jermoid Wheeler began using a crowbar to break down the back door of a home in the 600 block of Summer Breeze Drive, said Casey Rayborn Hicks, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman.
The sound of Wheeler beating at the door woke up the homeowner — who grabbed a firearm and proceeded down the hall, where he could see someone was trying to break in, Hicks said.
The homeowner told deputies he then ordered Wheeler several times to stop, but Wheeler ignored him, broke the door open and walked toward him with the crowbar, Hicks said.
The homeowner fired a single shot, killing Wheeler at the scene, Hicks said.
At that point, Wheeler’s wife, Deneatrice Cage-Wheeler, 36, reportedly ran into the home and grabbed the crowbar before walking back out.
While being questioned about her role in the incident, Cage-Wheeler’s story reportedly changed. At first, she denied all involvement and said she and her husband were just looking for a home. But then she said her husband “was known to carry a crowbar while committing burglaries,” and that she had been with Wheeler during burglaries in the past, Hicks said. Eventually she acknowledged running into the home and grabbing the crowbar, Hicks said.
Soon after questioning, Cage-Wheeler, 6745 E. Monarch Ave., was booked into Parish Prison on counts of aggravated burglary, second-degree murder and theft of goods.
The homeowner, whose identity is not being released, is not currently facing any charges, Hicks added.
Court records show that in 2005, Wheeler was charged with second-degree murder in the shooting a year earlier of his neighbor, 28-year-old Patrick Pierce. In 2009, Wheeler was sentenced to 10 years in prison on lesser charges of conspiracy to commit second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit armed robbery, court records show.
In 2011, he was charged and pleaded guilty to stealing less than $500 worth of property from RadioShack, receiving six months in Parish Prison. In 2013, he was sentenced to another six months for domestic abuse battery.
Residents in the Summerwood neighborhood off Burbank Drive said they were shocked to hear of Tuesday’s shooting. A sheriff’s deputy is parked on Summer Breeze Drive on a fairly regular basis, said neighbor Christen Vaughan.
“We take extra precautions to make sure these things don’t happen,” Vaughan said.
A man who identified himself as Wheeler’s father-in-law said, “This is a disaster for me,” and declined to comment further. Other family members could not be reached for comment.
Neighbors also noted that the homeowner at the Summer Breeze Drive house happened to be in the process of moving out. A sign advertising the property was still visible on Tuesday afternoon. An official with the leasing company confirmed that the home is still for lease — but declined to comment further.
Follow Daniel Bethencourt on Twitter, @_dbethencourt.