TANGIPAHOA PARISH, La. — Yellow police tape was still outside Marquita Hampton’s Tangipahoa Parish home Tuesday morning.
“We just looked out our door and we saw nothing but police,” said Hampton as she talked about what she saw two mornings before.
Around 5 a.m. Sunday, authorities say her neighbor shot and killed a man during a home invasion.
“Like, ten minutes later, they had the yellow tape wrapped around our house,” Hampton said.
It happened at the Hillside Mobile Home Park on Klein Road just outside of Hammond.
“It’s incumbent upon the homeowner, or person, to use reasonable force to protect themselves in a situation like this until authorities can arrive on scene,” said Chief Jimmy Travis with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Travis says Robert Rheams, 51, broke into the woman’s trailer while she and her two young kids were asleep.
“He entered the residence with a covering over his face, armed with a lug wrench and a shovel,” Travis said.
Travis said Rheams walked past one child sleeping on the couch, then went into the mother’s bedroom. After a scuffle, she grabbed a gun and shot Rheams in the upper thigh.
“Which subsequently hit a femoral artery and he bled out on scene,” Travis said.
Just hours before the shooting, Travis says Rheams attempted to carjack a man who was giving him a ride. Travis says Rheams was also out on parole for a 2001 armed robbery conviction. Travis said he robbed a Hammond convenience store.
“Rheams entered the convenience store where a police officer was present. Rheams produced a handgun, disarmed the police officer, stealing his gun and the cash till from the register,” Travis said.
Rheams served about 20 years of a 30 year sentence before being released March 2, 2022. Travis says Rheams had two felony convictions before that. One for drugs in 1997, another for theft in 2001.
“This incident fits the Louisiana laws when it pertains to justifiable homicide,” Travis said.
Travis says the break-in was random and doesn’t expect criminal charges. Because law enforcement can’t be everywhere at once, Travis says homeowners need to be able to protect themselves.
“Criminals need to take into consideration that not everybody is going to be a victim,” Travis said. “They’re going to defend themselves and defend their children and their families.”
Back at her home, Hampton can’t stop thinking about whether Rheams would’ve broken into her home instead of her neighbor’s.
“I haven’t seen her since the incident happened,” Hampton said. “It just makes me want to cry. That could have been my baby. That could have been my kids in the house. That could have been me shooting somebody. It just bringing tears to my eyes just thinking about it.
► Get breaking news from your neighborhood delivered directly to you by downloading the new FREE WWL-TV News app now in the IOS App Store or Google Play.