Jonathan Tobias was your average high school freshman.

He went to school in the morning, came home in the afternoon, sometimes walked to the store to get a snack with his little cousin. He loved his dog "Lulu" and spent hours in his room playing video games. 

Jonathan, 14, wasn't doing anything unusual Tuesday night — he had gotten up to use the bathroom not long after midnight — when a bullet passed through the walls of his family's Plaquemine home and struck him in the neck, ending his life. Family members released the victim's name to the media Wednesday.

Authorities described the boy as an innocent victim, not the intended target. They also noted it wasn't the first time his home had been attacked.

Jonathan lived with his mother, brother and sister in their trailer at Barrow and Singleton streets, just off La. 1 in Plaquemine. He was a freshman at Plaquemine High School.


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Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi said investigators believe the shooting was the latest in an ongoing "tit for tat" scenario between two groups in the neighborhood. It started in 2017, the sheriff said, when a teenager was shot and killed while attempting to rob a dice game. Two other teens have been arrested in that case.

But Stassi said the arrests haven't stopped the violence, pointing to at least two other shootings in recent months that authorities have connected to the same dice game incident. Jonathan's home was shot up just months earlier, but no one was injured that time.

"We're talking about a few troublemakers causing tragedy for an entire community," Stassi said at the scene Wednesday. "People just don't understand the power of a gun. Once you pull the trigger, that bullet has no conscience."

Jonathan's older brother Elliot James said he was sitting on the couch watching television when he heard gunshots. He found his brother in the bathroom, already losing consciousness, and tried to revive him until emergency crews arrived on the scene — several minutes that "seemed like forever."

Jonathan's mom and sister were also home when the shooting occurred.

The family had surveillance cameras installed outside their home after it was shot up previously. Stassi said detectives are reviewing surveillance footage from those cameras, which show two gunmen walking down Singleton toward the trailer, stopping at the intersection to open fire from the road. The bathroom is located at the front of the home, closest to the road.

The person believed to be the intended target was not inside the home when the shooting occurred and no longer permanently resides there, Stassi said.

"We're talking about an innocent victim, just 14 years old, who had no dog in the fight. All he did was go to school, maybe shoot some basketball and play games," the sheriff said. "This is a useless waste of life."

Dozens of relatives and friends gathered at the family's home Wednesday to comfort each other. Some sat in the living room eating fried chicken, which the Sheriff's Office had dropped off, and shared memories of Jonathan.

When reports of the shooting flashed across the TV screen during an afternoon news broadcast, conversations paused and a tear slipped down his brother's cheek.

"His little dog is probably laying in his bed right now, waiting for him to get off the bus from school," said Jonathan's cousin Karen Young. "A child's life taken for nothing."

She said Jonathan was a quiet boy who generally kept to himself and often stayed inside the house — "his safe place that he loved."

"He wasn't in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was at home, right where he should be," she said. "It's just wrong that this happened to him."

Raheem Pierce, a senior at Plaquemine High and a family friend of Jonathan, said news of the shooting "has shocked and impacted the whole community."

"This is a tight knit community and we stick together," he said. "I pray his family gets the justice they deserve."

Follow Lea Skene on Twitter, @lea_skene.