A man accused of killing a Shreveport police officer was arrested Thursday after a round-the-clock manhunt, police said.
Grover Cannon, 27, was in a backyard detached garage not far from the house where Officer Thomas LaValley, originally of St. Amant, was killed Wednesday when officers acting on a tip arrested him shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday, Shreveport police spokesman Cpl. Marcus Hines said.
“He was sitting in the back of the garage, just hanging out. … He may have been consuming a hard beverage. I’m not sure what it was,” Hines said.
He said Cannon was taken into custody without incident.
The capture was the result of efforts by the FBI, the Shreveport Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service, Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office and State Police. The FBI offered a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to Cannon’s arrest.
LaValley, 29, was shot multiple times about 9 p.m. Wednesday while answering a call about a suspicious person at a home in the city’s Queensborough neighborhood.
Shreveport Police Chief Willie Shaw said neighbors told the officer that the man inside the home was wanted. The officer didn’t know the man was armed, and he went inside and was shot, Shaw said.
Police already had a warrant for Cannon’s arrest on a charge of attempted second-degree murder in the shooting of Darren Williams on July 15.
“Long story short, he gets into an argument with one guy, pumps him full of lead and runs off,” Hines said.
A four-year member of the force, LaValley began working as a lawman after more than three years as a television news photographer. Shaw described LaValley as the top graduate in his police academy class 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.”
Casey Habich said he and other friends were sure LaValley went into the house thinking he was going to help someone. “That’s what he went to do,” Habich said.
He described LaValley as “just a good old south Louisiana boy who wants to drink Miller Lite and watch the Saints play on Sunday and lose his shoes” — and a man who would help anyone, any time.
Retired St. Amant High School wrestling coach Earnest Brown remembered LaValley on Thursday as “a great student.”
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 just really believed in the team, and he was always around us. He was like family.”
The two girls on the wrestling team didn’t faze LaValley.
“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.
Scott Arceneaux, athletic trainer at St. Amant High School for 20 years, who taught LaValley sports medicine, remembers him as “a good kid, the type of guy any parent would be proud to have.”
“He had a solid character. To find out he was a policeman was not a surprise,” Arceneaux said.
When he was told that a former student had been shot, “I knew right away” which former student it was, he said.
“The St. Amant community is very close-knit,” said Arceneaux. “The ripple effect is huge.”
Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley said he and one of his top officers visited with LaValley’s family Thursday.
Wiley said the parish remains a tight-knit community despite recent years of rapid growth.
“So, we lost one of ours. Let there be no doubt about it,” Wiley said.
The St. Amant community and law enforcement in Ascension Parish are grieving, he added.
LaValley joined a television station after graduating from Northwestern State University with a major in biology and a minor in journalism, Habich said.
Habich, who was a news photographer for the station when LaValley was hired, said he thought working the night crime beat, “running with first responders every night,” made LaValley decide he wanted to become a police officer.
“It was just in his nature to take care of people,” he said.
He also loved his state, often saying he’d never leave Louisiana. And though he often griped good-naturedly about his cat — named Drew, after New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees — LaValley paid $1,200 to get it through an infection, Habich said.
Shaw said LaValley came to his office while working at the television station and said he’d applied for a job at the department, 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.
Police said a memorial service honoring LaValley will be held at 4 p.m. Friday at Summer Grove Baptist Church in Shreveport, with visitation afterward.
Advocate staff writers Danielle Maddox, Ellyn Couvillion and David J. Mitchell contributed to this report.