Shooter Arrested After Allegedly Killing Girlfriend's Family, Then His Parents

A dying father told police that his son, Dakota Theriot, was the person who shot him down. Police believe Theriot also murdered his girlfriend's family before taking aim at his parents.

By Eric Shorey

A manhunt ended in the capture of a gunman suspected of killing his girlfriend's family before driving to his parents house and shooting them down as well.

Police believe that Dakota Theriot, 21, shot and killed Summer Ernest, 20, her father, Billy Ernest, 43, and her younger brother, Tanner Ernest, 17 on January 26. Theriot had been living with Summer's family near Baton Rouge after being kicked out of his parents' home for drug use. Two children, ages 7 and 1, were in the Earnest home at the time of the shooting but were not harmed.

A relative of the Ernest family, Crystal DeYoung, believed Theriot and Summer had just started dating, according to The Associated Press

Theriot allegedly fled the scene in Billy's 2004 Dodge pickup. He then drove to Ascension Parish, about 30 miles away. There, he allegedly took aim at his parents, Elizabeth and Keith Theriot, both 50 years old.

Police responding to the second shooting found Keith Theriot close to death. In "a dying declaration … [he told officers] that it was his son that committed this act,” said Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre at a news conference on Saturday.

Theriot allegedly fled the scene again, this time heading to Warsaw, Virginia, about a 16-hour drive from the last killing. Police in Virginia had been warned that Theriot had more family in the area that could become potential targets, according to The Washington Post.

Theriot's grandmother temporarily moved to a hotel for her own safety. Police found Theriot with his gun drawn at his grandmother's residence at around 7 A.M. on January 27, at which point a stand-off occurred, according to The Advocate, a Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based news organization. Dakota eventually surrendered.

Richmond County Sheriff Stephan Smith described Theriot as having "a little bit of sleep deprivation."

“He seemed tired ... and there were some statements made, but at this time that’s part of the investigation,” Smith said.

Cory Flannery, a former friend of Theriot's, was baffled by the news about the killings.

“I grew up with him. I knew he wasn’t like that,” said Flannery, of Montross, Virginia, who attended middle school in Richmond County, Virginia with Theriot. “I just want people to know that Dakota was not that person. That wasn’t him. Something had to have happened ... He wouldn’t have just woken up and said, ‘Hey I need to kill these people.'"

Meanwhile, Paul Hays, Jr., Summer’s cousin, disputed that Theriot and Summer were dating. He said the two had just met and that he was practically "a stranger" to the Ernest family.

Theriot will face five counts of first-degree murder, illegal use of a weapon, and home invasion charges.

[Photo: Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office]

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