DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (BRPROUD) — A suspect is dead and a Denham Springs Police Department officer is in critical condition after exchanging fire on Thursday, May 11 in Denham Springs.

The Denham Springs Police Department says Cpl. Shawn Kelly’s condition hasn’t changed as of Friday morning.

“He’s still in critical condition and fighting for his life,” the department said in a statement before noon.

Denham Springs Police Chief Rodney Walker said his officers were dispatched to a disturbance near a shopping center along South Range Avenue near I-12 at a 6 p.m. Thursday news briefing. He said the suspect, later identified as Justin Roberts, 30, of Denham Springs, started firing on the officers with a gun and the police returned fire.

From there, Walker said, the suspect fled the scene.

“One of my officers is in critical condition at the hospital,” he said.

Justin Roberts (photo courtesy of Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office)
Justin Roberts
Photo courtesy of Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office

Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard said at the news conference that deputies intercepted the vehicle at another point. Roberts was shot in the earlier exchange, and he was taken to a local hospital.

Around 8 p.m. Thursday, the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook that Roberts died from his injuries.

“I know there’s a lot of questions. Everybody’s got questions about this. We have our own questions. We ask y’all to be patient as you can with us while we work through this scene. We’ll get you the answers as quickly as we can, and we’re working as diligently as we can to work through this,” Ard said at the briefing.

Shortly after the shooting, there was heavy law enforcement presence in front of the Petco store in a shopping center along South Range Avenue near I-12. Multiple law enforcement agencies were at the scene, including Louisiana State Police, Denham Springs PD and LPSO.

“As I said earlier, lots of questions still to answer in this case. Weather is obviously a factor. We are continuing to process the scene with our partners,” Ard said in the statement announcing Roberts’ death.

What you should know about Kelly

Kelly earned his post certification in 1997 at the State Police training academy and was hired by the Louisiana Department of Corrections in 1994 before moving to other state agencies, Denham Springs PD said. The department said he joined the Denham Springs police force in 2019 where he works as a taser instructor, field training officer and motor officer.

“Cpl. 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,” Sgt. Scott Sterling said. “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.”

Blood drives for Cpl. Shawn Kelly

Denham Springs PD said a blood drive is being held at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital on Essen Lane starting at 8 a.m. Friday. A second blood drive on Friday is being hosted by the Baton Rouge Fire Department from 9:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 8011 Merle Gustafson Drive.

City officials in Denham Springs said a blood drive will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, May 15 at the Livingston Parish Courthouse.

Law enforcement asks for prayers

Walker and Ard asked for the community’s prayers for everyone involved.

“Our officer involved in the shooting today is still in critical condition & fighting for his life. Chief Walker continues to ask for prayers for Cpl. Shawn Kelly, his family and his brothers in blue,” Denham Springs PD posted on Facebook Thursday night.

Images and video of shooting scene