The drive-by shooting that killed a former Baton Rouge Park and Recreation Commissioner at his Pride home Tuesday has authorities investigating a possible connection to two other shootings, one also fatal, all of which happened in a 25-mile radius since July and remain unsolved.
Carroll Breeden was killed about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday as he sprayed weeds in his front yard by the roadside, family members said. A vehicle drove by and gunned him down, killing him in front of the family's lifelong home at 15288 Port Hudson-Pride Road, said Casey Rayborn Hicks, an East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.
"It was so fast that no one even saw the car, (got a) license plate," said Breeden's daughter-in-law Stephanie Breeden.
A week earlier on Sept. 12, Buck Hornsby, 47, was shot and injured just over the East Baton Rouge Parish line from Pride in Clinton, East Feliciana Parish Sheriff Jeff Travis said. He was shot as he was exercising that morning near the roadside of his property at 658 La. 63, also by a vehicle driving by, Travis said.
Just down the road from that shooting, at 621 La. 960, Thomas Bass was killed at his house the morning of July 8, Travis said. However, in that incident, Travis said, the 62-year-old was found dead closer to his home, and the shooter would have had to come up on the property.
Authorities identified a 62-year-old man as the victim of a fatal shooting this weekend near…
"We can't count out the fact that they aren't related," Travis said, adding that nothing has yet confirmed they are connected.
Hicks said deputies are working closely with the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office to see if the three shootings could be at all connected.
"While there are some similarities, there are some pretty significant differences," Hicks said. The investigation of Breeden's killing remains ongoing, she said.
No arrests have been made in the two Clinton area shootings, Travis said.
"It's insane," Buzz Breeden said of his father's death. "It's always been quiet here."
Buzz Breeden said that Hornsby was a family friend, and Hornsby on Wednesday also called Bass a family friend. Breeden and Hornsby said they weren't convinced the three shootings were necessarily connected, although it's definitely shaken up their small community.
"I'm still in shock," Buzz Breeden said.
Buzz Breeden and his wife said there's "no one on Earth" who would want to harm the 66-year-old.
"It didn't matter who you are, he's going to be there to help you," Stephanie Breeden said of her father-in-law. "He's going to take the shirt off his back to make sure you're OK."
Breeden volunteered his time as a BREC commissioner from 2001 to 2007, at one point becoming vice chairman of the the board that oversees the city-parish's public parks and recreational facilities, BREC Communications Director Cheryl Michelet confirmed.
After Breeden left the commission, Michelet said, he continued to serve on a BREC committee and was a trustee for the National Recreation and Park Association.
Breeden retired after working for 36 years as a project manager at Exxon, where he also served on the recreation committee for the company, his family said.
"He would go out of his way (to) help people," Buzz Breeden said, remembering how his father pitched in after the August 2016 flood.
"He was coming to my house and getting my blowers to take them to people's houses, helping them gut it. Mostly people he knew, some of them he didn't. ... There's hundreds of stories like that."
Buzz Breeden also remembered how his father loved to discuss politics and keep up with the news — he said his views, though opinionated, were always pretty moderate.
"He saw the good in everything," Buzz Breeden said.
Hornsby on Wednesday, with 37 pellets still lodged in his body — one in his tongue, another near his right eye and others scattered around his hands, arms and back — recalled the day he was shot. He remembered seeing a car slow down and pull over before hearing two gunshots and immediately feeling an enormous impact as dozens of shotgun pellets showered his face and right side.
Hornsby said he jumped under a nearby building immediately after the shooting. His family later counted more than 300 pellet holes in the closest wall.
"That should've been lethal, just a miracle,” he said. "I'm just thankful I’m alive. I’ve got three kids and a wife."
Hornsby grew up in Clinton, his family’s home for generations. He said he still is baffled by the three shootings and why anyone would have targeted the three men.
Family members Wednesday also remembered Bass, who they said was shot, fatally, from a close range, near his garage. They said Bass had just gotten home from a trip to the store when he was killed.
"He was such a good man," said his sister-in-law, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she was worried about future shootings. "He would help anybody, all you had to do was ask Tom."
She lives near Bass and said she's frightened after hearing about the two other shootings following her brother-in-law's, though she said she isn't convinced they are all connected.
"I'm scared to death; I don't go to my mailbox, I don't take my garbage out; my grandson does that for me," the sister-in-law said. "I don't sit on my porch."
Hornsby's son Scott "Bucky" Hornsby III said he finds it too bizarre for the three shootings not to have been connected.
"Since I've been living out here, my whole life, I've never heard of any shooting around here; I've never heard of any murders," Hornsby, 22, said. "So for there to be three shootings in a 20-mile radius since July. ... I don't think it's random."
Advocate staff writer Lea Skene contributed to this article.