Jun 8, 2011 12:18 AM by Maddie Garrett
It was a tragic end to a sordid past for Ville Platte insurance agent Melvin Lavergne. After over 40 years in the insurance business, he'd recently faced several investigations and an arrest. It was all leading up to Tuesday's double murder suicide in Ville Platte.
"Today around one o'clock the Ville Platte Police Department responded to the call of shots fired at Lavergne Insurance Company here in Ville Platte. When they arrived they found two Louisiana Department of Insurance agents that had been shot, they later died from those gun shot wounds," said State Trooper Stephen Hammons.
Long time agents Rhett Jeansonne and Kim Sledge had come to Lavergne's Insurance Company Tuesday afternoon to gather information on a case for the Louisiana Department of Insurance. Authorities say it seems Melvin Lavergne had been waiting because he was armed with a gun, his secretary was out and he'd sent another business partner home that morning.
"Somebody really has to snap, to actually have a gun and have a gun in his office," said Camille Fontenot, who knew Lavergne personally.
Camille Fontenot watched in shock as SWAT teams and police took over the streets of downtown Ville Platte, just a block away from where she works as the Director of Ville Platte's Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Department.
"I mean Main Street in Ville Platte in Louisiana, I couldn't hardly think of a safer place since I was a child you know, and yet this is happening here. It's really sad, it's scary," said Fontenot.
Fontenot knew Lavergne well, their children had grown up in school together. She still can't believe he would open fire on anyone.
"I mean I knew him well, I see his wife in the grocery store. No, I would never think of anything like this, like of him being violent, no," she said.
But Lavergne's family had said he was having financial troubles at work. And the Louisiana Department of Insurance had already charged Lavergne with a $16,500 fine, suspended his lisence and accused him of insurance fraud in 2009. There were also complaints filed against his agency in October 2010 that Lavergne wasn't sending payments from customers to insurance companies. And then LA State Police arrested Lavergne on January 31, 2011, for insurance fraud, his license was again suspended and he was given notice of revocation.
"And I know what we're saying here at the Chamber is that we just send our condolescenes to anyone who was hurt and to his family, because not at all did I ever know him as being mean or cruel or anything like that. You just don't know what happens sometimes," said Fontenot.