From what Reginald McCue can tell, Renita Pritchett is a churchgoing woman.
Her husband, Percival Pritchett, did not always go with her, but he always had a smile for his neighbor, McCue. He also would frequently laugh and joke with another neighbor, Arthur.
The couple, really, were nice people.
That’s why, when McCue heard that the Pritchetts’ son, Ronald Pritchett, was accused of stabbing the pair during a Thanksgiving eve altercation that led to Percival Pritchett’s death, he was taken aback.
“We didn’t know anything had even happened until my son-in-law came over and said, ‘There’s all kind of ambulances outside,’ ” McCue said Thursday.
The altercation, which occurred about 7 p.m. Wednesday in the 800 block of Bellemeade Boulevard in unincorporated Gretna, began when 32-year-old Ronald Pritchett and his parents began arguing “over food items,” according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Pritchett lives in Purvis, Mississippi, and apparently was visiting for the holiday.
The Associated Press reported that the argument began because the parents ordered fast food and didn’t get any for their son.
During the squabble, Ronald Pritchett became enraged. He grabbed a knife, went upstairs and kicked his parents’ locked bedroom door open. Then, he stabbed his 58-year-old father repeatedly in the chest and his 57-year-old mother repeatedly in the head, officers said.
As his parents lay wounded, Ronald Pritchett drove back to Purvis in his father’s 1997 tan Chevrolet Suburban.
The two elder Pritchetts were taken to the hospital, where Percival Pritchett was pronounced dead. Renita Pritchett, identified as “Renta” by police but as Renita by neighbors and public records, had injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening.
Thursday morning, Mississippi police found and arrested the son.
He waived extradition and is expected to be transported back to Jefferson Parish on Monday, then booked on one count each of second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and auto theft.
WWL-TV reported that Ronald Pritchett was picked up at his home in Purvis, near Hattiesburg, just before 3 a.m.
Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said a K-9 unit had to go into the home to force Pritchett out. “He refused to come out, so we sent in a K-9 and he was taken into custody,” Rigel said.
Pritchett was treated for minor injuries from the police dog and booked on a warrant from Jefferson Parish.
The grisly murder scene left neighbors reeling on a street that residents said always has been quiet.
But McCue and his wife, who live across the street from the Pritchetts, and Steeve Augustin, a few doors down, said it doesn’t make them question the area’s safety.
“When I saw it in the news, it seemed like a family problem. If it’s a family problem, then I won’t blame it on the neighborhood,” said Augustin, who is originally from New York.
While Augustin and other neighbors who asked not to be identified said they had not had much interaction with the Pritchett family, Diane McCue said it’s not the first time there have been spats at the Pritchett house.
“I did see a couple of things before, with the son. Loud stuff. People flying out in their cars,” she said.
But she never thought it would come to something like this.
“I can’t imagine a kid with that much anger,” she said.
Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA.