A man shot and killed his girlfriend and then himself during an argument Thursday night at their Baton Rouge home, police said.
Zachary Washington, 31, and Shanta Matthews, 33, lived together with their two children at an apartment on North Lobdell Blvd. They both died at the scene.
Sgt. L’Jean Mckneely, a spokesman for Baton Rouge Police Department, said he was not aware of any law enforcement reports on the couple that would indicate that they had previous domestic violence issues.
McKneely said the children were witnesses to the shooting. Relatives came after the incident to take care of them.
The family, originally from Natchez, Mississippi, had recently moved to the Baton Rouge apartment, he said.
The Natchez Democrat reported in 2016 that Matthews was the queen of the Krewe of Janus ball. Her Facebook page is full of pictures of Matthews, Washington and their family at the krewe's most recent ball and Matthews posted about making plans for Mardi Gras day in New Orleans.
It was reported that Matthews, a 2004 graduate of Natchez High School, had one younger brother and two daughters.
Matthews studied at Jefferson County Technical School and received a certificate in phlebotomy before enrolling at Baton Rouge Community College in business management, as of the 2016 report. She also worked as a store manager at a Family Dollar in Baton Rouge, according to the newspaper report and McKneely.
Shikitia White, who lives in the apartment building behind the one where the couple lived, said she was walking with a friend last night at the apartment complex and heard loud bangs from another building where the shootings took place.
“We ran back to our place,” White said.
Karen Rayburn, the apartment manager, said the couple had been tenants for four or five months.
“They were a very nice couple, very quiet,” Rayburn said. “We never had any problems with them, ever.”
“This is just devastating to us,” she said.
The murder-suicide is the latest in a rash of domestic violence related killings that have plagued the Baton Rouge area over the past year. There were four murder-suicides and 14 domestic violence-related homicides in East Baton Rouge Parish in 2017, according to District Attorney Hillar Moore III.
Moore said those numbers are especially high for the parish and noted that all four murder-suicides were connected to domestic violence. Because family and friends sometimes see signs of domestic abuse, Moore said it's important that people say something about it.
"We really have to rely on and ask those people to report it and encourage victims to get help and report it to third parties so it never escalates to something like this or the four we saw last year," Moore said.