Suspect sought in 5 killings, including his parents, near Baton Rouge in an apparent domestic dispute

Doug Stanglin and Kristin Askelson and Dalvin Brown
Dakota Theriot, 21, was wanted in connection with the shooting deaths of five people in an apparent domestic dispute Jan. 26, 2019.

Louisiana authorities were searching Saturday for a 21-year-old man wanted in connection with the shooting death of five people – including his parents – in two neighborhoods around Baton Rouge in a domestic dispute. 

The suspect was identified as Dakota Theriot, who was believed to be traveling in a gray and silver Dodge pickup truck, according to the Livingston Parish sheriff's office.

Ascension Parish deputies had been called to a trailer in the city of Gonzales, where they found Dakota's parents, Elizabeth Theriot, and Keith Theriot, both 51, with gunshot wounds, but still alive.

The couple, who later died at a hospital, were able to identify Dakota as the suspect in the shooting, according to Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre.

He said Dakota had lived with his parents briefly but had been asked to leave and not return.

Authorities in Livingston Parish say the suspect is believed to have gone to his parents home after first killing his other three victims, Billy Ernest, 43, Tanner Ernest, 17, and Summer Ernest, 20, in Livingston Parish, south of the city. 

The Advocate of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is reporting that two children under 8 years old in the Ernest home ran to a neighbor's home for help after the shooting. They were not harmed.

James Theriot, 49, of Sorrento is a relative of Billy Ernest's wife, Kacee Ernest, who was at work at the time of the shooting incident. Theriot said the Ernest family spent the past three weekends visiting his house, where he prepared meals for them.

"Their favorite food was pastalya," Theriot said. The dish is a combination of pasta and jambalaya.

"Billy was the most loving, kindest guy you'd ever meet," Theriot said. "Summer was the most respectable child, just a very sweet girl. And Tanner, the youngest, was fun, he loved to play around and joke with people."

James Theriot, who knew the victims for three years, said he met Dakota Theriot, the alleged suspect, last weekend when the Ernests came over to visit. Dakota Theriot was "a friend of the Ernests," James Theriot said. "I only met him once. I don't know what would drive the kid to do such a thing."

Crystal Ernest-DeYoung, 46, of French Settlement is Billy Ernest's sister. She said that the family believes that Summer Ernest and Dakota Theriot met recently.

"We’re all devastated. We don’t know how somebody can be so evil," Ernest-DeYoung said. "We don’t know how we’re going to get on. We lost three people that are so dear to our hearts."

The Ascension Sheriff's Department said the killings appeared to be related and that Theriot is wanted in their area on two counts of first-degree murder, illegal use of weapons and home invasion.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Suspect sought in 5 killings, including his parents, near Baton Rouge in an apparent domestic dispute