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The shed out back of the home where the two children hid and called 911; off South HarrellÕs Ferry Road at 2929 Palmer Lane where officials say a gunman, Michael Lee Wade, 48, opened fire early Thursday on his ex-girlfriend, her grandmother and her current boyfriend, killing the 3 of them, Thursday June 27, 2019, in Baton Rouge, La.

Two boys who escaped a shooting rampage that left their mother, great-grandmother and their mother's boyfriend dead have been reunited with other relatives.

As the family tries to understand the violence that authorities say was carried out by the mother's ex-boyfriend, a cousin said they are so thankful for the quick action by the 14-year-old son, who called 911 and led his younger brother out of the house to safety. 

“I’m just glad that my cousin was smart enough to grab his brother and go hide," Tina Varner, a cousin of the boys' mother, said in an interview late Thursday. “He’s definitely a hero to us.”

The boy's mother, Crista Mae Sudduth, 35, their great-grandmother, Ruby White, 72, and Sudduth's boyfriend 32-year-old Ivy Frank, were all found fatally shot at the grandmother's Palmer Lane home off South Harrell's Ferry Road just after midnight Thursday morning. Suddoth's ex-boyfriend, Michael Lee Wade, 48, has been arrested in the attack. 

“I don’t understand how this could happen," Varner, 27, told The Advocate. “I’m heartbroken, I’m in shock, I’m trying to wrap my head around this. … You hear about this in the news but you don’t think it will hit this close to home.”

Varner said she was especially close with Sudduth, her cousin. They had grown up together, and more recently, had stayed in touch through phone calls, video chats and visits. 

“She was just amazing, … the sweetest person I knew," Varner said. "She always was there for everybody else."

Varner said her grandmother, White, was the "glue to the family."

"She was a godly, Christian, good-hearted woman, always opened her home up to anybody who needed it," Varner said. "She was just loving, … she hugs everybody.”

“Who would shoot such a sweet woman?"


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Varner said Sudduth had helped take care of their grandmother, and was always focused on raising her two boys. 

“Her life was pretty much dedicated to her boys,” Varner said. “Those boys were her world.”

Varner said she had met Wade through a video call with Sudduth a few times, but she was not aware of any issues between the couple while they were together. She said they broke up within the last few months. 

A family friend, Gloria Rogers, said she had noticed controlling behavior from Wade on a recent visit with Sudduth, wanting to know exactly where she was and whom she was with at all times. 

Varner said she had not heard about Frank or met him, but her heart still goes out to his family.  

“My prayers go out to his family as well," Varner said. "I know they’re going through the same pain as we are.”

Email Grace Toohey at gtoohey@theadvocate.com.