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Suspect in Officer Slaying Shoots Self, Still Alive: Police

The suspect threatened to jump from New Orleans' Mississippi River bridge before shooting himself in the chest

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    Sylvester Holt, left, is lifted of the ledge of the Crescent City Connection by an officer Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in New Orleans. Holt was wanted in the connection with the shooting of his wife and a Westwego police officer. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

    The suspect in the slayings of a police officer and a woman shot himself Friday after an hours-long standoff on a New Orleans bridge but is alive, a Louisiana state police spokesman said.

    Trooper Dustin Dwight said the man identified as Sylvester Holt shot himself once in the chest Friday evening. Dwight said negotiators had been talking with Holt but he does not know what was said.

    Holt was on a girder below and to the side of the bridge roadway when the shooting happened. Dwight said rescue workers were going down to get Holt. News outlets have reported that Holt has been brought back up.

    The self-inflicted gunshot wound brought an end to a chaotic day that began with the early morning shooting death of Westwego Officer Michael Louviere, 26, and Simone Veal, 32, of Marrero.

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    According to witnesses, the shooter fired at Veal, then chased her car in his vehicle to an intersection where she hit a truck waiting at a light, Jefferson Parish Sheriff's spokesman John Fortunato said. Louviere, whose shift ended at 6 a.m. Friday, was on his way home after work when he spied the crash and stopped to help.

    The man shot Louviere in the head, then ran around the car and shot Veal as she lay on the ground, Fortunato said. Fortunato didn't know whether she'd been hit in the earlier shooting.

    Fortunato identified Holt as a person of interest and suspect in the double shooting.

    As authorities searched for Holt, police shut the Mississippi River bridge from New Orleans' east bank to its west bank, causing traffic to back up for miles, because a man later identified as Holt was threatening to jump from it.

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    Helicopters circled the area as news crews and photographers watched intently.

    Louviere was described as a dedicated family man with a strong work ethic; he was married and had a 1-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter, Fortunato said.

    According to Westwego Police Chief Dwayne Munch, he was a rising star likely bound for a job at a larger agency.

    "We knew we wouldn't have him for long. We just didn't know he would be gone this soon," Munch said.

    Prior to his career in law enforcement, Louviere was a U.S. Marine who served in Afghanistan, Munch said. He joined the department in July 2015 and "finished first in everything" in his police academy class of roughly 20 recruits, Munch said.

    Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said earlier Friday that dozens of officers from multiple agencies were searching for Holt. Several women had taken out protective orders against him between 2012 and November 2016, the sheriff said.

    He had also been arrested in September after being accused of rape. But Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick Jr. said the rape charge was later dropped after the woman repeatedly told authorities she wanted to withdraw the charge, though she still alleged that he had raped her. Holt was released from jail on Jan. 7.

    Connick said Holt contended the sex was consensual.

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    (Published Wednesday, March 29, 2017)

    Munch said he and a doctor broke the news to Louviere's wife at a hospital that her husband had died.

    "That was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do," the chief said.

    The shooting happened outside Visitation of Our Lady School, Archdiocese of New Orleans spokeswoman Sarah Comiskey McDonald said. Veal did not work there, she said in an email. The school teaches pre-kindergarten through seventh grade.

    Friday's shooting comes after a sharp increase last year in the number of police officers killed in the line of duty — including a pair of deadly ambushes in Louisiana and Texas.

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    On July 7, a sniper in Dallas killed five law enforcement officers and wounded nine others at the end of what had been a peaceful rally against police brutality. Less than two weeks later, a lone gunman shot and killed three law enforcement officers and wounded three others in an attack outside a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, convenience store.

    On Wednesday, authorities arrested a man accused of fatally shooting an Orlando, Florida, police officer outside a Wal-Mart on Jan. 9.

    Munch, Westwego's police chief, said Louviere helped patrol Baton Rouge after the deadly shootings in that city and helped patrol neighboring Denham Springs after August's historic flooding.

    "Typical Michael," the chief said.

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    "She was really small when I rescued her," said Joanne Lefson, who manages the South African Farm Sanctuary, a haven for rescued farm animals where the pig now lives. "She's very smart and intelligent so I placed a few balls and some paintbrushes and things in her pen, and it wasn't long before I discovered that she really liked the bristles and the paintbrush...She just really took a knack for it."

    Funds from the art sales go towards the sanctuary.

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    Associated Press staffers Michael Kunzelman in Baton Rouge and Rebecca Santana and Jonathan Bachmann in New Orleans contributed to this report.