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“He was a very dangerous individual" - what led up to a violent rampage in Tangipahoa

Law enforcement explains the crimes that lead up to a man being shot dead during a home invasion.

TANGIPAHOA PARISH, La. — A Tangipahoa man who went on a violent rampage was shot dead during a home invasion. Police Chief Jimmy Travis says the suspect was extremely dangerous.

Robert Rheams' violent rampage started Saturday evening around 8 pm. This video shows the brazenness of his crime. He entered the Sunoco wearing a black mask, firing one round into the front counter. He then heads to the register where he fires several more rounds into the drawer to open it. While stealing money he accidentally fires more rounds while fumbling with the cash.

“Robert Rheams armed with a 40 caliber, semi-automatic handgun with a drum magazine in the handgun walked into the parking lot of the convenience store and robbed two subjects who were in the parking lot. The clerk saw him coming towards the door, he basically runs for safety. Rheams enters the store and starts firing,” Chief Jimmy Travis with the Tangipahoa Sheriff's Office said.

Rheams then fled the store, fires shots into the air, and gets away. A few hours later he’s across town at a local motel, where he gets into an argument with a woman.

“There was a guy from out of state staying at the motel working here in town… Rheams approaches him and says hey man can you get me out of here, give me a ride away from here, and he says sure," said Chief Travis.

As the good samaritan and Rheams are driving along the old Baton Rouge highway, his violence erupts.

“Rheams starts attacking the driver of the car, starts punching him and chocking him, causing him to an abrupt stop into the ditch.”

The driver fled on foot, while Rheams tried to steal his car but it was stuck in the ditch, so he too then fled.

Early the next morning at 5 am, at the Hillside Mobile Home Park on Klein Road just outside of Hammond, officers get a call of shots fired. Rheams, broke into the woman’s trailer while she and her two young kids were asleep.

He walked past one child sleeping on the couch, then went into the mother’s bedroom.  

“He entered the residence armed with a shovel, and a lug wrench…Rheams went into the bedroom where he found the homeowner asleep. She was awakened, there was a brief struggle, she was able to retrieve a firearm, and she was able to fire one shot striking Rheams in the upper thigh.”

Chief Travis says Rheams was out on parole for a 2001 armed robbery conviction, where he robbed a Hammond convenience store.

He served 21 years of a 30-year sentence before being released March 2, 2022. Chief Travis says Rheams had two felony convictions before that. One for drugs in 1997, and another for theft in 2001.


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