Teen used ladder to see girl in Louisiana home before fatally shooting her dad, police say

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A teenage boy who climbed into a Louisiana home by using a ladder to see a girl fatally shot her father shortly after he confronted him Sunday morning, police said.

Authorities in Zachary, a small city about 20 miles north of Baton Rouge, are trying to determine what prompted an exchange of gunfire between the 17-year-old suspect and Dezmon Jerome Hamilton, 34, Zachary Police Chief David McDavid said.

Hamilton, a well-known area businessman, died in his living room, and the teen was injured after shots were fired, McDavid said.

McDavid said Thursday that the teen, whom he didn't name, and Hamilton shot at each other about 25 minutes after Hamilton caught the boy hiding in a closet and took him downstairs to speak to him. The teen was there to see Hamilton's 14-year-old daughter, McDavid said.

Hamilton was alerted to the boy in his home by a neighbor who saw the teen "going into the window," McDavid said.

The boy remained in the hospital Thursday afternoon. McDavid said that upon his release, he will be arrested and charged with second-degree murder, illegal use of a firearm and possession of a stolen firearm. He is expected to be charged in juvenile court, McDavid said.

The bloodshed occurred within the vicinity of three potential witnesses, but McDavid wasn't sure what they saw or heard, he said. They were Hamilton's daughter, her mother and her grandmother. Hamilton had called them to the home, McDavid said.

"It's a tragic loss," McDavid said. "We lost a good man who was an up-and-coming entrepreneur who was trying to make this community better."

McDavid, who has worked for the police department for more than three decades, said he had known Hamilton and his mother for a long time and even coached him in a church basketball league.

Relatives of the suspect couldn't be reached for comment Thursday. It was unclear whether he had an attorney. Hamilton's family also didn't respond to requests for comment.

Hamilton's obituary said he was a lifelong resident of Zachary who was a supervisor at Exxon Lubrication-Port Allen, a member of a Baptist church and the owner of a yet-to-be opened business called Sweet Corner. He was a father of four, the obituary said.

McDavid said Hamilton had recently bought property near his home and planned to open a stand that sells shaved or crushed ice, commonly known as snowballs, and a car wash.

Hamilton, who was shot at least once in the torso, and the teen fired at each other with different guns, McDavid said, noting that Hamilton had weapons at his home.

"Based on what we saw, based on the information and evidence, we suspect the juvenile shot first," McDavid said.

He said Hamilton's daughter is believed to have let the boy into the home from a second-story window.

Investigators have been unable to speak to the suspect, McDavid said, because he had gone into surgery and was unconscious. The investigation continues.

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