A Houma man killed four, including himself, and injured three others in a shooting rampage across Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes Thursday, according to police.
The dead are Milton Bourgeois, longtime CEO at Ochsner St. Anne General Hospital in Raceland; Susan “Pixie” Gouaux, wife of Lafourche Parish Councilman Phillip Gouaux; the suspected shooter, 38-year-old Ben Edward Freeman; and his wife Denise Taylor Freeman.
Councilman Gouaux, his daughter Andrea and Bourgeois’ wife Ann were also shot, but had survived as Friday morning.
Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s deputies found Ben Freeman dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside his SUV on U.S. 90 near Bayou Blue hours after the shooting.
According to Sheriff Craig Webre, sometime before 6:40 p.m. Thursday, Freeman entered Councilman Gouaux’s residence on Hyland Drive in Lockport. Freeman was divorced from Gouaux’s daughter Jeanne, who was not at the home.
Once inside, police believe the shotgun-wielding gunman shot Phillip Gouaux in the throat, killed Gouaux’s wife and shot his other daughter Andrea.
The councilman was able to make the initial 911 call before he was rushed with Andrea to University Hospital in New Orleans. They are listed in critical, but stable condition.
Immediately after, Freeman drove some 15 miles north to Raceland and the home of Bourgeois on the 2900 block of La. 308. Bourgeois was the CEO of St. Anne General Hospital since 1988 where Freeman worked as a registered nurse before being terminated in 2011, according to Webre.
Inside the Bourgeois residence, police said Freeman killed Bourgeois with a close range shotgun blast. Bourgeois’s wife Ann was also shot in the leg and is listed in stable condition.
Three hospitals where Freeman worked in years past, Terrebonne General Medical Center, Thibodaux Regional Medical Center and Ochsner St. Anne General Hospital, were on lockdown while officers searched for Freeman.
Parked along U.S. 90 sometime before 10:20 p.m., Freeman shot himself in the head with the same shotgun used in the slayings, police said.
The search for Freeman led authorities to his Houma home, where they found his wife, Denise Taylor Freeman, dead in the bathtub, Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter said. Her cause of death hasn’t been determined, but Freeman is suspected of killing her as well.
Webre described a “difficult” custody conflict between Ben Freeman and Phillip Gouaux’s daughter. He noted Freeman was mandated by a court to have supervised visits with the four children he fathered with the daughter.
Freeman has also plead guilty to harassment charges and had multiple protective orders filed by his ex-wife, according to Webre. The last of those orders expired less than a month ago.
“Clearly, there has been a very difficult and complicated divorce/custody issue going on,” Webre said in a late-night news conference Thursday.
The Jefferson Parish Coroner ruled the cause of death was asphyxia (strangulation) due to suffocation and drowning for Denise Freeman. Authorities believe she was the first victim killed.