Denham Springs officer critically injured in shooting; suspect dead

The community of Denham Springs comes together to show support for injured Denham Springs Cpl. Shawn Kelly.
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 4:51 PM CDT|Updated: May. 16, 2023 at 12:18 PM CDT
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DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (WAFB) - Denham Springs Police Corporal Shawn Kelly remained in critical condition at the hospital on Tuesday, May 16, after he was shot while responding to a ‘disturbance’ between a man and a woman at a popular shopping center in the city on Thursday, according to investigators.

Cpl. Shawn Kelly with Denham Springs Police Department
Cpl. Shawn Kelly with Denham Springs Police Department(Source: Denham Springs Police Department)

“Corporal Shawn Kelly is a lifetime public servant and is the type of officer who wants to respond to every call and help every person he can reach, which is why he was even where he was yesterday afternoon,” said Sgt. Scott Sterling with the Denham Springs Police Department. “Cpl. Kelly is actually assigned to the traffic unit but never hesitated to help the uniform patrol officers as well. We ask that everyone continue their prayers for Cpl. Kelly as he fights for his life. Thank you to everyone who has shown up to donate blood as well. The turnout has been tremendous.”

Sgt. Sterling said Kelly was POST certified in 1997 at the Louisiana State Police Training Academy. He added Kelly began his career in 1994 with Louisiana DOC and other state agencies before ultimately joining the DSPD in 2019 where he is a Taser instructor and field training officer. Cpl. Kelly has received multiple commendations for his generous ways and positive attitude.

He added he spoke with several members of Cpl. Kelly’s family on Friday and they all expressed a tremendous amount of gratitude towards the community and the outcry of support they have received. The family asks that everyone continue to pray for Cpl. Kelly.

Law enforcement officials are also asking the community for their prayers.

“Bear with us while we figure all this out, and with the other teams of law enforcement agencies that are here,” said Denham Springs Police Chief Rodney Walker. “And again, this community loves their police department, they love their sheriff’s office. So, remember that love, and spread that love on us with your prayers and your thoughts, and lift us up to God.”

There was a blood drive for Cpl. Kelly on Friday, May 12, at OLOL Hospital, and the community answered the call. OLOL said 191 people donated blood. Sgt. Sterling also said as of 5 p.m., there were over 185 liters of blood donated at the Our Lady of the Lake Hospital.

The blood donor center is open:

  • Monday - Thursday: 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Friday: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m

Officials said they encourage people to donate Saturday and Monday because they’ll still be making an impact.

And another blood drive is scheduled at the Livingston Parish Courthouse, which is located at 20300 Government Blvd. in Livingston, on Monday, May 15, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

There was a prayer service in the parking lot of Petco off South Range Avenue for Cpl. Kelly at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 13.

Dozens of people gathered around for the Denham Springs officer who was badly injured.

Another blood drive was held at Sidney Hutchinson Park in Walker on Saturday, May 13 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sport N Center in Denham has created a shirt design fundraiser to help raise funds for the Kelly family.

RELATED: Teen believes man who followed her home was suspect involved in shooting that injured officer

The shooting took place sometime after 4 p.m., in the parking lot outside of the Big Lots, Petco, and Office Depot on South Range Avenue.

“During that disturbance, when they got here to investigate that disturbance, the suspect started firing on them with a firearm. Our officers returned fire, and one of my officers is in critical condition at the hospital,” said Police Chief Rodney Walker.

Denham Springs shooting
Denham Springs shooting(WAFB)

Police have identified the suspect as Justin Roberts, 30. Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard confirmed that Roberts died from his injuries at the hospital, after being shot by deputies.

“As I said earlier, lots of questions still to answer in this case,” said Ard.

Officials stated the suspect was still shooting when he fled the scene in a vehicle and traveled towards US 190 on South Range Avenue where LPSO deputies responded. Roberts was later shot by Livingston Parish deputies near the old Albertsons on South Range Ave. near Florida Boulevard.

Justin Roberts.
Justin Roberts.(Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office)

Court records show Roberts was arrested in 2015 and charged with attempted armed robbery in Baton Rouge. Police said he pulled a knife out of his pocket and tried to rob a man he knew while they were watching a Saints game.

Justin Roberts
Justin Roberts(Source: East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office)

Witnesses described what they heard at the chaotic scene.

“We were eating our Canes on our lunch break, and all we heard was gunshots, we looked around and everybody was running,” said Gary Edwards, a witness.

“I was working in the back warehouse and I just heard a lot of gunshots. We came outside and we just saw the officer on the ground and they were doing CPR on him. That’s all we really caught,” said Kate, who works at a store near where the shooting took place.

One woman did not want her name out there but saw the entire incident.

“It took me a second to register what was happening, but once I did, my first instinct was to protect my daughter,” said the woman.

She said she was grabbing her purse to go into a store with her daughter when the gunfire started.

“I heard the police officer scream ‘Stop’ as the vehicle was driving away, and then I heard the gunshots. And I turned to look, and then I saw both people exchanging gunfire. So, I turned and ran and tried to take shelter, while the cop was standing behind his vehicle trying to protect himself,” said the woman.

People were shocked that something like this would happen in their community.

“It was sad, really sad, and it happened right here in Denham Springs, it’s just bad,” said Andrea Diaz, who was shopping when the shooting took place.

“Very unsettling, chills on you,” said Kate.

“Very upsetting to witness, especially in Denham where I’ve lived forever. And it’s safe, it’s supposed to be safe,” said the woman who did not want to be identified.

Denham Springs shooting
Denham Springs shooting(WAFB)

Multiple law enforcement agencies are assisting Denham Springs Police with the investigation, including the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, Denham Springs Marshal, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, ATF, Denham Springs Fire Department, and Louisiana State Police.

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