A Tennessee truck driver repairing a tire on his 18-wheeler Tuesday while waiting to offload a delivery at a Florida Boulevard warehouse was robbed and then fatally shot, police said.
Keith Odom, 49, of Jonesborough, Tennessee, was shot about 8 a.m. while making the repair in the parking lot of the Longbow shopping center in the 12300 block of Florida Boulevard. He was waiting to make a delivery to Barton’s Surplus Warehouse. He died later in a hospital, said Sgt. Don Coppola, a Baton Rouge police spokesman.
Coppola said investigators believe Odom was shot after he turned over his possessions to the robber.
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Though police have detained some people for questioning, Sgt. L’Jean McKneely, also a police spokesman, said investigators have not identified a suspect in the fatal shooting.
Jeremy Hill, who works at Barton’s Surplus Warehouse, said Tuesday he arrived at work early and saw Baton Rouge Emergency Medical Services responders giving aid to Odom behind his 18-wheeler.
"He looked dead," Hill said of Odom. "He was white, white, white."
The police cleared the scene, but a blood stain remained on the concrete near the back of the 18-wheeler.
Hill said he was told the truck driver was patching a tire before the shooting. A blood-stained receipt from Advance Auto Parts naming Odom as the customer and had a timestamp of 7:44 a.m. Tuesday for tire repair materials lay on the ground next to the truck.
Two employees who work at another business in the Longbow shopping center told The Advocate that just before the shooting, they saw a man in a black hoodie and a backpack pacing around the parking lot. They said he looked out of place and referred to him as an "anomaly."
Within minutes, people started banging on their door, yelling that someone had been shot, the employees said. When the employees looked out the front door, they saw the victim lying in the parking lot and the man in the hooded sweatshirt running across the parking lot toward the Citi Trends store.
The employees declined to give their names.
Devante' Williams, a manager at Barton's Surplus Warehouse, said his company was expecting a delivery Tuesday from Travis Brown Trucking, headquartered in Jonesborough, Tennessee, and the company that employed Odom. Williams said offloading of trucks usually begins around 8:30 a.m.
No one answered the phone at Travis Brown Trucking when they were contacted for comment late Tuesday afternoon.
Another Longbow business owner, who declined to give his name, said he often sees Travis Brown Trucking company trucks in the parking lot waiting to make deliveries to the warehouse. He said the drivers will often arrive overnight or early in the morning and sleep until the warehouse opens.
He said he regularly runs off suspicious individuals and reports them to police. Now, he said, he is looking into installing multiple surveillance cameras and already had called a company about it Tuesday morning after the shooting.
Odom’s parents in Jonesborough, Tennessee, were forced to adjust to the idea that their “teddy bear” and only child wasn’t coming home Tuesday.
“We know that those things do happen,” said Kenneth Odom, Keith Odom’s father. “His mother and I are trying to accept what happened and that he won’t come back through the door at 10 p.m. tonight.”
His said his son planned to return home at 1214 Old State Route 34 on Tuesday before leaving on another run Wednesday.
The younger Odom loved seeing the country and would always share the sites he saw with his parents, making recommendations for sightseeing trips and advice on routes to take. He had already given advice for his parent’s 50th wedding anniversary trip to Niagara Falls in September.
“He was wanting to be a truck driver from the time he was a little boy, 7 or 8 years old,” Odom said of his son. “All he ever wanted to do was drive. As soon as he was old enough, he got his license and he went on the road driving.”
Kenneth Odom learned to expect accidents and crashes as an occupational hazard for his son, but the Vietnam veteran never thought his son “would end up being the one with the bullet in him.”