BATON ROUGE – A close friend of Sgt. Shawn Anderson remembers one of the very few areas which outshined the Walker resident’s passion for law enforcement.
“He was very committed to his family … his last words to his wife were that he loved her],” said longtime friend Stacy Viator, who taught 25 years with his wife Becky at Levi Milton School. “He never missed any of the sporting events for his son and daughter, as far as I know, and he always made time for his family.”
Anderson, who worked 18 years with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, died in a shooting Saturday night during rape investigation at Classic Cuts Barber Shop on Hatteris Avenue, just off O’Neal Lane.
He and the suspect exchanged gunshots after an altercation ensued during the investigation, according to EBRSO spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks.
Anderson died at Ochsner Medical Center, directly across from the scene of the shooting. He was 43.
The suspect, whose name has not yet been released, remains in the hospital.
The Louisiana State Police will handle the ongoing investigation.
Anderson’s slaying occurred merely eight months and two days after three law officers – Montrell Jackson and Matthew Gerald of the Baton Rouge Police Department, and Deputy Brad Garafola of EBRSO – died in an early morning ambush shooting in front of the B-Quick Food Mart in Baton Rouge on July 17, 2016. All three men lived in Livingston Parish.
Deputy Nick Tullier, another Livingston Parish resident, is currently undergoing therapy after the critical wounds he suffered in the shooting.
Anderson’s shooting occurred the same day the widows of the three fallen officers from the 2016 slaying served as honorary grand marshals in the Baton Rouge St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Anderson worked on the SWAT team around the B-Quick Market the morning of the massacre. News of the slayings left his family with fear that he, too, had died
“He worked that scene while the shooter was still alive, so we went through the scare when they announced that officers were down and we knew Shawn was there,” Viator said. “It was very scary because at the time we didn’t know which officers were down.
“Unfortunately, death is something an officer and their family deal with the entire career,” she said. “It still sounds so surreal … as a part of an officer’s family, you’d never think it’s going to happen to you. You think it happens to other people.”
Anderson developed a fierce sense of dedication during his 18 years in law enforcement, but he never downplayed the importance of his family in spite of his job, Viator said.
Anderson often rearranged his EBRSO schedule to make time for events for his wife and two children.
"He always made time for them," Viator said. "No matter what his schedule was, he always found a way to stay involved."
Viator and her husband went on vacations together and enjoyed many holiday and weekend gatherings over the years. She attended the wedding for Shawn and Becky and knew their kids since their birth.
“Shawn had a good sense of humor and a good demeanor … he was a nice guy to be around,” she said. “If there’s such a thing as a stereotypical or overly aggressive officer, he certainly was not that type.”
Anderson’s work as a public servant extended far beyond arrests and traffic stops. He had helped deliver a baby for a motorist March 19, exactly one year ago, when he had responded to an unrelated incident.
Gonzales Police Officer Duane Carpenter in a Facebook post Sunday recalled the role Anderson played in the birth of a child for Sean and Laura Walsh.
“Sean was rushing Laura to the hospital since her water had broken,” Carpenter said in the post. “Anderson told the couple, "We are going to put on our lights and sirens and get you to the hospital as fast as we can." Laura grabbed my arm and said No, this baby's coming.
“Anderson said what happened next was a blur. He threw on some gloves and delivered the baby in the front seat of the car in the middle of Tiger Bend Road” Carpenter said. "As the baby came out and once Anderson had the baby in his hands, she looked at (Anderson) and said, "Please don't let my baby die". And my brain just went to mush, said Anderson.
“Anderson cleared the baby's airway and then tapped him on his bottom, causing Declan to start breathing. This was the first time Anderson has ever delivered a baby, but he said it helped having two kids of his own,” Carpenter said.
Sgt. Anderson also received the Life Saving Award in 2010 for saving the life of a woman on the Old Mississippi River Bridge.
He was recognized in 2014 for serving more than 60 high-risk warrants in 2013 as part of SWAT, with no injuries or shots fired.
Anderson was a 1992 graduate of Baker High School. He served in various EBRSO divisions, including Parish Prison, Narcotics, K-9, Emergency Services Unite and Maritime Response Team.
The K-9 response work found a way into his home life for Anderson, who himself had four dogs.
“He loved animals and was always concerned about his K-9 retiring and making sure the dog could retire with him,” Viator said.
The dogs became a part of his family and fit into his greatest joy in life, she said.
“He always made time for his family, and it always meant so much to them,” Viator said. “He was a very kind, gentle man.”