RIVER RIDGE, La. - A father is accused of murdering his teenage son and then turning the gun on himself. Authorities discovered the apparent murder-suicide Friday in River Ridge, and it has shaken a quiet community to its core.
“You've got to be shocked, you don't see anything like that around here. It just blows you away,” said neighbor Barry Innerarity.
“There was never a loud instance,” said neighbor Kent Shropshire. “I never heard a raised voice over there.”
But Jefferson Parish authorities discovered a darker side of the quiet house after a concerned mother asked them to check on her ex-husband and teenage son. Investigators found Matthew Tarto, 16, shot to death inside.
Investigators believe he was deceased for some time before his father, Mark Tarto, 52, turned the gun on himself.
Neighbors say the father and son appeared to be close. They would see them outside together from time to time and they can't imagine why anyone would do something like this.
“I can't explain, I don't understand it. I don't know how someone could harm their own child. I'd take my life before I took one of my kid’s lives,” said Shropshire.
Tarto was a sophomore football player at John Curtis Christian High School nearby. There's already an outpouring of support from friends on Facebook.
“He's the kind of son every mother would hope for. He was a good boy, never gave a problem, always had a smile, and worked very diligently at his goals,” said J.T. Curtis, Tarto’s football coach.
Now a shocked community is left wondering why. One psychiatrist said various risk factors can lead to a tragedy like this.
“Risk factors include recent separations and divorces. They tend to be very aggressive in nature; they can pit parents against each other,” said Dr. Michael Blue.
As investigators try to find a motive, it's a tragic loss for a close-knit family in a quiet neighborhood.