MELVILLE, La. (KLFY) — A dispute over flirting seems to have led to the shooting death of a Melville man and the injury of another, and a Port Barre 18-year-old now faces murder charges in the case, according to St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz.
Jaden Michael Ardoin, 18, of Port Barre, faces charges of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in the shooting death of Wade Edward Smith and the injury of James Preston Allen Vaughn. No bond has been listed.
Guidroz said deputies were called out to the 9000 block of La. 105 in the Melville area for shots fired at around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night. Shortly after, deputies were notified of a flaming vehicle near the same area.
Investigators learned that the incident allegedly began at a nearby gas station where Smith and Vaughn were regular customers. Ardoin’s girlfriend worked at the gas station, according to Guidroz, and reports say “…the two would routinely flirt with Ardoin’s girlfriend when they would enter the gas station…” Smith and Vaughn were asked not to continue flirting with the girlfriend, due to jealousy concerns with Ardoin, and the two allegedly agreed to stop.
Shortly after, Ardoin and another subject entered the gas station and became upset that Smith and Vaughn were there. Later that evening, Smith and Vaugh were driving down La. 105 and passed Ardoin, who was driving slowly in the lane. A chase began, and Ardoin allegedly began shooting at Smith and Vaughn from behind, said Guidroz. Smith was struck by a bullet.
Vaughn grabbed the wheel of the vehicle but eventually lost control. The vehicle veered off the roadway and struck a tree, catching fire, according to Guidroz. An unknown female helped Vaughn exit the vehicle, though Smith remained slumped over and died from his injury.
Vaughn was able to identify Ardoin in a photographic lineup, said Guidroz. Using a combination of evidence at the scene and surveillance footage from several sources, deputies arrested Ardoin.
The other subject with Ardoin has not been identified or charged as of yet, though Guidroz said more arrests are expected in the case.
“Many concerns and assumptions were called into the media outlets, posted on social media, and called into my office about this case and other cases,” said Guidroz. “I want to remind you of my promise and commitment I made to the citizens of the parish. My office does not only want to make an arrest but a conviction in the cases. What seems to be open and shut cases must be investigated to the fullest and takes time. I understand with the 24-hour news cycle and social media, everyone wants information on the case before the case is finished and the arrests are even made. I assure you that my office is totally transparent but will not ever jeopardize a conviction of a case until the information can be released. Always rely on our official news releases, not any other information being spread about cases.”