HOUMA, La. – A deputy in the Terrebone Parish Sheriff's Office shot and killed a 14-year-old boy as two deputies investigated reports of a group of people with weapons running into an abandoned home just before 6 p.m. Tuesday, according to the sheriff's office.
The incident happened in Kirkglen Loop after deputies were called to the scene just before 6 p.m. The teen who was shot and killed was identified by relatives as 14-year-old Cameron Tillman who was a student at Ellender High School.
The deputy was not identified by name, but the Terrebonne Sheriff's Office said he is an African-American, 7-year veteran of the patrol division, a field training officer and a member of the TPSO SWAT team. A spokesman for the department said the officer has no previous disciplinary infractions during his career.
The sheriff's office said that two officers were responding to the call. "While attempting to make contact with the suspects inside of an abandoned residence on the street, shot an armed suspect."
State Police, who took over the investigation due it involving an officer with the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office, said only that "a weapon was recovered in close proximity to the 14-year-old's body."
Family members dispute the contention that Tillman was armed. Andre Tillman, Cameron's brother, was inside the abandoned house at the time of the shooting. He said somebody knocked on the door. "My little brother thought somebody was just clowning, because somebody is always clowning by the door. He opened (it) and the man just shot him. He didn't have nothing in his hand."
Louisiana State Police Trooper Evan Harrell said what happened exactly is under investigation.
The incident, according to Harrell, began with a 911 call around 6 p.m. with a caller informing police that several suspects ran into a house with weapons on Kirkglen Loop.
"What transpired on the scene is being processed right now," said Harrell. "Because the officer and the 14-year-old deserve a thorough investigation."
Three suspects are in custody -- two juveniles and an 18-year-old, Harrell said. A fifth suspect escaped out the rear of the residence, according to the deputy's initial statement. Harrell said the home was abandoned at the time.
"The individual that was fatally wounded, his family, everybody deserves a proper investigation, and that's what we're here to do," Harrell said. "And until we get everything nailed down, squared away, we'll be out here as long as it takes."
Residents of the loop said the run-down brick home the shooting took place in had been vacant for more than a year. Local kids were often seen going in and out of the building, which neighbors said had been empty since its last occupant left.
Family and friends described Tillman as a timid and respectful teenager. He was a "tremendous athlete" starring in both basketball and football during junior high, said family friend Michael Legarde, who is a teacher at Ellender.
Legarde said Tillman and his sons were close friends for most their lives and that Tillman was taking a year off athletics to focus on his studies.
"He had heard all the hype about high school and just wanted to concentrate on his grades for the first year," Legarde said.
Legarde said Tillman lived a few streets down from the house where he died. He added that he believed "there was no way" Tillman and the others were robbing the home because it was completely empty. He knew this because he considered purchasing the property to add to about 20 others he rents out in the neighborhood.
"I look at him as one of my sons," he said looking out at a sea of blue lights illuminating the neighborhood. "It's a shame. This was a good kid, never caused any trouble."
Josh Miles, Tillman's cousin, echoed those sentiments. "He stayed out of trouble. He was just a good kid," Miles said. "I told the sheriff that as scared as he was, he'd never point anything at anybody."