Jacob Batte / Houma Courier
HOUMA, La. - A 15-year-old Larose boy was killed Thursday in what police described as an accidental shooting.
The victim was identified as Braxton Bourda, a South Lafourche High School student who was a swimmer for the school team and the Cut Off Hurricanes team at the Cut Off Youth Center.
Neely Gardner, 19, of Galliano, turned himself in early this morning and has been charged with negligent homicide. He was in the Lafourche Parish jail on a $250,000 bond.
The shooting happened about 2:45 p.m. in the 100 block of East 23rd Street in Larose. Deputies found Bourda's body laying on the side of the road with a single gunshot wound to the face. Detectives say the weapon appears to have been a 9mm semi-automatic pistol.
Gardner said he found the gun lying near a house and was trying to unload it when it fired one round accidentally, striking Bourda in the face, sheriff's spokesman Brennan Matherne said. Gardner then dropped the gun and dragged Bourda to the roadside and fled the area.
Gardner was also booked with contempt of court from a 2013 outstanding warrant for failure to pay fine stemming from an original charge of resisting an officer. Bond has not been set.
Bystanders at the scene Thursday told The Courier and Daily Comet that the shooting came after an argument over a bicycle, but Matherne said no one deputies talked with made such an allegation.
Bourda was on a bike when he was shot, Matherne said, but it was unclear whether the boy was riding it or stationary.
“Witnesses said he was riding the bicycle,” Matherne said.
An investigation continues, and Matherne said the gun had not yet been recovered.
Bourda's father was also fatally shot several years ago.
After Brad Bourda, Terry “Crum” Hester and Chauncy Adams were shot to death in a car on Raceland's St. Louis Street May 12, 2008, the Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office made three arrests within hours. However, each suspect was later released for lack of evidence.
The victims' relatives have heard countless rumors about who killed their loved ones and why and have passed on the tips to authorities. But the crimes remain unsolved.
Braxton last year told The Courier and Daily Comet he was angry detectives haven't solved his father's murder.
“It's just pissing me off,” he said. If his dad was still alive, “I would have every day with my dad and see him every day.”
Several family members said they will remember Braxton's eyes, a trait they said was passed down by his father.
“I'll always remember those eyes. He looked just like his daddy,” said his cousin, Kevon Bourda.
Braxton was a “jokester,” his family said.
“He loved to joke, loved to laugh. Most of all he loved his family and friends,” said his aunt, Tameka Bourda.
Braxton's grandmother, Doris Bourda, said her grandson was a really good person who never caused any trouble.
“He would come over and plant flowers for me,” she said. “Whenever he would come to the house, he always had that smile on him. I'm going to miss that.”
Braxton liked to hunt, fish and hang out at his aunt's house, Tameka said, and he was close to his cousins.
“I knew him since we were little. We grew up together,” said his cousin, Asia Bourda, who went to school with him. She said he treated her like a little sister.
“He would watch out for me. All of the boys that would come talk to me, he would say 'No Asia, that's not going to work out,'” she said, laughing.
Kevon said he and Braxton were like “two peas in a pod.”
“He would come over to the house and we would kick it and play games, talk about him swimming or getting into trouble at school. He was a good kid,” he said. “He wanted to swim. He wanted to live.”
Above all else, “swimming was his life,” Tameka said.
Family members said swimming was Braxton's ticket away from the bayou.
“He was the 15-year-old Michael Phelps,” Kevon said.
“He's been swimming since he was little, and he never lost a meet,” added his grandmother.