Matthew Carter, the 17-year-old who was shot during an armed robbery over the weekend, has died.
The Comeaux senior succumbed to his injuries Wednesday morning at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, where his organs were donated to improve the lives of others.
“Today Matthew left this world with a final and fitting act of love for others,” the Carter family said in a statement. “He was always there for someone in need and now even in death, he will continue to give to others by donating his organs, making him not only our hero but also a hero to many others.”
Charges for the two juveniles, 13- and 14-year-old boys, arrested in the case were upgraded Wednesday to first-degree murder, police said.
The suspects, whose identities have not been disclosed by law enforcement, were initially charged with attempted first-degree murder, armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
Comeaux High’s principal told students of Carter’s passing over the school’s speakers Wednesday, reminding them of resources available to them.
The school also canceled Wednesday’s athletic events, including a basketball against St. Thomas More, in honor of Carter, who played football and soccer for the Spartans.
“We wanted to show respect for Matt and his family,” said Comeaux’s head football coach Doug Dotson. “And a lot of our kids were close to Matt, so we didn’t want this to affect them.”
Dotson, who coached Carter for almost four years, said the teen’s death has hit the Comeaux community hard.
“There’s just this overall sense of sadness in the school,” Dotson said. “Kids are just walking around the school a certain way, and it’s not just students. I think it’s hit every teacher, every administrator, every person here. I’ve never seen anything like it. Everyone is just kind of walking around in disbelief that this kid’s been taken away like this.”
Lafayette police found Carter, who was seated inside of a black Chevy Camaro, suffering from a gunshot wound when they arrived at the residential area off of Kaliste Saloom Road at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday.
A witness said he saw a suspect running toward a tree line near the parking lot of the Coaches Plaza condominiums on North Meyers Drive where the alleged armed robbery happened, according to the initial police report.
Carter was treated for injuries at the scene and transported to Lourdes in critical condition.
His friends, classmates, fellow athletes, coaches and teachers came together in the days that followed in support of Carter and his family.
They used blue and red spray paint to decorate his Comeaux parking space with his name, jersey numbers — 31 for football and 11 for soccer — and a heart. Flowers and other mementos, including a toy Camaro, decorated the spot instead of the full-sized version of the car that would ordinarily be parked there.
They donated blood in his name and held a car meet up in his honor.
They also gathered for a prayer vigil Monday night outside of Lourdes as Carter's parents watched from a third-floor window of the hospital. The vigil opened with the crowd forming hearts with their hands for Matthew's parents. It closed with the group stretching their arms out toward the window as they prayed for a miracle.
"Thank you to all of our family, friends, teammates and the community for holding Matthew in prayer during the devastating tragedy our family has endured," the family said in Wednesday's statement. "These last few days we have been surrounded by the most heartfelt compassion and care, there is no way we can ever repay what everyone’s done for us."
Another vigil for Matthew Carter is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday at Comeaux's football stadium at 100 W. Bluebird Drive.
His siblings said they plan to attend, wearing red, white and navy in support of their alma mater. They encouraged their fellow Spartans and others in the community to "storm the stadium."
"Our lives will be forever changed," the family said. "Please hold us in your hearts and prayers as we begin the hardest journey we will ever travel. Pray with us as we remember our beautiful boy Matthew and all he means to so many."