The shooting Monday morning that left two dead and a third wounded in a neighborhood behind College Drive was ruled a murder-suicide, which authorities have linked to domestic violence.
Broderick Jhy Edwards, 25, fatally shot Gabrielle Nicole Joseph Bessix, 27, then shot at her friend before killing himself, said Baton Rouge Police spokesman Sgt. Don Coppola Jr. The friend was injured but is expected to survive.
Bessix and Edwards had been in a relationship at some point and she had received a temporary restraining order against him that was effective through Aug. 15, said East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III.
Police believe that just before 10 a.m. Monday, Edwards and Bessix had been fighting at Bessix's home on Bunker Hill Drive, Coppola said. During the altercation, Bessix called her friend to come over, but when the 27-year-old friend arrived, she saw Edwards chasing Bessix from the home, then shoot her. Edwards then fired shots that struck the friend, but she was able to drive away, Coppola said. Then Edwards shot himself to death.
Edwards and Bessix were found dead outside Bessix's home. Bessix's friend, who drove around the corner in a black SUV that had at least one window shattered from the gunfire, was treated at a hospital, Coppola said.
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Family members of Bessix gathered on the street Monday afternoon, holding each other up. Wails and tears filled the air.
Some East Baton Rouge Parish residents are nervous that the number of homicides this year might match or surpass 2017's record-breaking total of 106.
"I just don't know what could have gone wrong," her uncle Thomas Bessix said. "I don't know what to say other than pray. Pray … for forgiveness for the young man who's done this."
Thomas Bessix said that earlier Monday morning Gabrielle Bessix had picked up her 9-year-old daughter from her parents' home, then dropped her at school. The grandparents had been watching the child while Bessix had been at her shift, working as a nurse.
"She always seemed to be on the happy side," Thomas Bessix said.
Family members said Edwards had been Gabrielle Bessix's boyfriend at one time. Her cousin, Tabatha Coleman, said she believed the couple had recently broken up, though she did not know Edwards personally.
"I can't wrap my head around what could have happened," Coleman said. "It's just unbelievable."
Few details were available through court documents about the possible legal history of domestic abuse between Edwards and Bessix, but another woman had pursued — and was granted — a protective order against him in 2012. She accused him of threatening to kill her and her baby daughter, slapping and punching her on a regular basis "whenever he felt that he as being disrespected," the court documents show.
Neighbor Kie J. Wells said he heard about 10 shots Monday morning coming from next door. He said they came in spurts: one, then three in a row, then six or seven. He said his son called police.
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"Boy oh boy, I was getting ready to go to Albertsons," Wells said. Then he heard the gunfire, and quickly backed away from his windows.
"That changed everything," he said. He said in the last week or two, a man he believed was Bessix's boyfriend had been coming around often, knocking at the door. Before police gave the cause of the deaths, he worried it was domestic violence.
Wells said Bessix had always been a good neighbor.
Other neighbors who didn't know Bessix also gathered outside Monday morning, mostly in shock, many confused or concerned. The neighborhood is mostly one-story, modest brick homes with well-kept yards. The home where Bessix lived has a trampoline in the backyard.
"It's kind of quiet out here, we don't have trouble," neighbor Elaine Doyle said. "You very seldom see anything around here."