LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — It was a scene that probably would have made most people run the other way: a bloodied state police trooper lying on the asphalt by the side of a Louisiana country road, the lights from his police cruiser still flashing as a man with a shotgun stood nearby.
Robert LeDoux was just down the road a bit when three men pulled him over and told him not to go any closer.
“‘Don’t go down there. That guy’s got a gun,'” LeDoux told The Associated Press as he recounted how it was that he ended up tackling and capturing the gunman on Sunday.
Instead LeDoux, who had been out for a weekend drive in his Jeep, charged toward the danger. When he pulled up, he found a man with “pure evil in his eyes” rifling through the trooper’s pockets. The man was trying to unclasp the trooper’s handgun.
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“He told me, ‘Everything’s all right. Mind your own business. You need to go,'” LeDoux recalled.
Instead, LeDoux attacked: “I took off running. I tackled him. We hit the ground. I was on top of him and I called 911.”
The man whom LeDoux is credited with apprehending is now charged in the death of Senior Trooper Steven Vincent.
Kevin Daigle, 54, is accused of shooting Vincent on Sunday evening after Vincent found Daigle’s truck in a ditch and stopped to offer assistance. Vincent died Monday.
LeDoux said he was out for a drive Sunday when he saw flashing police lights about a quarter-mile in front of him. Three men stopped him and urged him to turn around. They said they were calling 911, but that he shouldn’t approach the patrol car because they had seen a man brandishing a gun by the trooper.
After LeDoux tackled the gunman, the other men ran over to help. They handcuffed the shooter and two of them held him down while LeDoux went to help Vincent, using the trooper’s radio to call for assistance.
LeDoux said it wasn’t until he saw the trooper’s name tag that he realized he knew the officer because he was good friends with the officer’s brother, also in law enforcement.
Police introduced LeDoux at a news conference earlier Monday but he did not speak to reporters at the time.
“This is a hero,” said state police chief Mike Edmonson.
Authorities also suspect Daigle in the death of another man whose body was found Monday at a house where Daigle had been living. Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said authorities originally went to the house Sunday evening because the vehicle Daigle was driving was registered there. No one answered and they had no search warrant, so they left, he said.
But on Monday authorities got a phone call from the man’s office saying he had not shown up for work and asking police to check on him.
As authorities were on their way to the house, Mancuso said state police also passed along information from their interview with Daigle that “led investigators to believe there was an altercation at this house.”
Upon arrival, a sheriff’s deputy found the man dead and signs of a struggle. The man’s name was not released.
“We really don’t have a lot of answers,” Mancuso said.
Authorities have charged Daigle with first-degree murder in the trooper’s slaying. But they are still trying to figure out what triggered him. Daigle had a record and was known to authorities already.
“He’s a citizen that has a criminal history in our community,” Mancuso said. “Everything from some battery charges, some domestic issues, battery on a police officer, DWIs. It’s somebody we’ve dealt with before.”
The police have not released the dashboard video, but Chief Edmonson described what he said is on it: Vincent, a 13-year state police veteran in southwest Louisiana and member of a law enforcement family, trying to talk the man out of the truck. Instead, the man came out with a shotgun.
“It was frightening to watch,” Edmonson said.
He said the tape shows a shotgun blast, and then Daigle wandering over to Vincent to ask him if he was alive.
“You could hear him breathing, telling him, ‘You’re lucky. You’re lucky — you’re going to die soon.’ That’s the words that came out of his mouth,” Edmonson said.
The police suspect Daigle had been drinking and said another type of drug was in his system, but gave no further details.
Vincent leaves behind a wife, Katherine, and a 9-year-old son, Ethan. One of his brothers was a police chief in Iowa, Louisiana, and another brother is a state trooper.
He was a marathon runner who just the night before ran a marathon just for fun, Edmonson said.
“Nobody wore this badge more proudly than Steven Vincent,” the state police chief said.
Associated Press writers Rebecca Santana and Janet McConnaughey contributed to this report.