Christian Roper was going to rob a drug dealer. He had done it before, according to a friend, but when he attempted to rob Derek Junca and Tyler Hebert on March 13, the transaction cost him his life.
Roper’s body was found in the parking lot at the Grand Pointe Apartments in the 3600 block of Kaliste Saloom Road after a shots-fired call about 10 p.m. that night, police reported.
Less than two weeks after Roper’s death, four men were arrested in the case. Tyler Hebert, 27, was booked on first-degree murder; Derek Junca, 20, was booked on principal to first-degree murder; and Ayden McDonald, 18, and Trevis Thomas, 19, were booked on a count each of attempted first-degree robbery.
Court documents detailing the police investigation shed new light on Roper’s death and the botched robbery that led to his shooting.
According to police, Roper enlisted McDonald and Thomas to help him in the robbery. The trio rode in McDonald’s tan Buick Intrigue to a local Walmart, where Thomas bought a toy gun to use in the robbery.
Thomas told investigators they originally planned to commit the robbery at the Walmart, but Roper suspected their target would be armed and opted to meet at the Grand Pointe Apartments instead.
Roper had a history at the apartment complex. His girlfriend, who lived there, admitted to police Roper said he liked to use the housing area to make his drug deals.
Roper and his accomplices arrived first. They were followed by their intended target, Junca, who arrived in his silver Ford F-150 with Hebert, a local drug dealer who goes by the street name “Gram.” Junca told authorities he asked Hebert to ride along after Roper requested to buy two ounces of marijuana.
Junca said Roper had been “acting funny” and he suspected something was afoul. Days before Roper’s shooting, the deceased had contacted Junca for a marijuana buy and asked him to meet in the back of the housing complex near the pool. Junca said Roper was acting strange and he bailed on the sale.
The plan was for Roper to demand the money and for Thomas to walk the area as a lookout, Thomas told authorities. But Roper got into the truck, which he agreed not to do, and Thomas said he got antsy. He walked toward the driver’s door and saw Roper struggling with someone inside. Then, the driver turned around and shot Roper, Thomas said.
In a meeting with authorities, Junca’s statements echoed Thomas’ account. He said Roper got into the back seat of the parked Ford F-150 and the two men started struggling, with Roper hitting Junca on the head. Despite having a Taurus 9mm handgun on his lap, Junca claims he didn’t shoot. It was Hebert who turned and shot Roper once in the neck, he said.
After Roper was shot, all parties fled the scene.
Video surveillance captured Junca and Hebert speeding out of the apartment complex, followed soon after by McDonald and Thomas in the tan Buick, the report said. A witness reported seeing a truck back rapidly out of a parking space and strike another truck before driving away. Another witness reported seeing a black male flee through the apartment complex to a car waiting by the pool utility area.
Meanwhile, Roper lay dying.
A witness who drove into the complex soon after told officers he saw what he thought was a garbage bag lying in the parking lot, but it turned out to be Roper, “convulsing and bleeding,” the report said. The man called 911 and when officers arrived, they found Roper deceased, his airsoft gun about 30 feet from his body.
Junca said after fleeing he and Hebert stopped at the Circle K gas station at the intersection of Kaliste Saloom Road and South Meyers Drive, just outside the trailer park where Junca was living. Hebert found the spent shell casing in the cab and threw it away in a trash can near the gas pumps.
Afraid someone would recognize the truck, Junca and Hebert drove to a friend’s home nearby. Hebert used towels to wipe down the blood in the back seat of Junca’s truck and burned the soiled towels in the home’s backyard fire pit.
The duo then continued to Junca’s trailer where Junca, still paranoid, told law enforcement he scraped the stickers off his truck’s back windshield, documents say. Hebert left the trailer park and headed for his mother’s home in New Iberia, ditching the gun he used to fatally shoot Roper in a body of water along the way, Junca claimed.
Junca said he believes the gun was a Smith and Wesson compact 9mm.
While Junca and Hebert were attempting to cover up the shooting, court documents show officers were already receiving tips that would eventually lead to the duo. Friends of Roper’s gathered at the parking lot the night of the shooting told officers the alleged shooter contacted a mutual friend to claim responsibility.
The friend, Davin Brashor, said he was an associate of Hebert’s, who he knew by his street name “Gram.” He told detectives that after Roper was fatally shot, Hebert called him on Snapchat and said, “ya boy just tried to rob me out of 2 zips, they punched my dude in the passenger seat, and I just turned around and shot.”
Detectives confirmed the Snapchat account as Hebert’s. Thomas later identified Hebert as the shooter from his Snapchat profile photo.
On March 19, Hebert was arrested at his residence in Aurora, Colorado, after fleeing there with his mother and girlfriend. He was later extradited back to Louisiana.
Evidence collected by the Lafayette Police Department supported the sequence of events, according to court documents. Detectives found drops of blood inside Junca’s rear passenger door frame and a bullet projectile behind the rear passenger seat. A chemical test revealed blood had been cleaned from the truck. The vehicle also had damage to its front bumper, consistent with the crash the witness reported.
Hebert’s trial date is scheduled for Jan. 13. He was released in July on a reduced bond of $125,000 and placed on house arrest at his mother’s residence, according to court documents. The state opted not to pursue the death penalty in Hebert’s case.
Trial dates have not been set for Junca, McDonald or Thomas. All three have pretrial hearings scheduled in the coming months.