Nicholas Pence and and his dad were gunned down inside their home
It was a night to celebrate. Nicholas Pence and his friends had just won a game of flag football and were enjoying their victory in his family’s garage in Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans.
The party wrapped up around 11:30, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Col. John Fortunato tells PEOPLE. “Several of the young men decided it was time for them to leave and Nicholas went inside the house,” he says.
Less than 20 minutes later, Nicholas, 25, a fun-loving salesman and avid New Orleans Saints fan, was found dead on the living room floor with multiple gun shot wounds. His 56-year-old father, David, an information technologist with an oilfield service company, had been shot multiple times in the living room chair. Elizabeth Pence, David’s wife and Nicholas’ mother, heard the shots and breaking glass and called 911.
“It looked like the dad might have been sleeping when he was shot and killed,” Fortunato says.
The question remained: Who would want to kill David and Nicholas?
At first, police were baffled. They found no signs of forced entry into the family’s single-story brick home in the 3700 block of Clifford Drive. It looked like the killer or killers had gained entry through a side door.
“Everyone was extremely frightened because the big question was, ‘Why did something like this happen?,’ ” says Fortunato about the April 22 execution-style murders. “It is an extremely nice area. Rarely anything occurs back there especially at this magnitude.”
However, investigators learned there had been close to 20 car burglaries in the area. Surveillance camera video from a neighbor’s home soon showed 17-year-old Dexter Allen attempting to break into nearby cars. Police also found fingerprints on a car burglarized one street over belonging to Allen’s girlfriend, 18-year-old Haraquon Degruy, according to the Times-Picayune.
On April 24, police and members of a U.S. Marshal’s task force spotted Degruy and Allen in a white Toyota Highlander in New Orleans. According to the Times-Picayune, several hours before the murders, Allen allegedly carjacked a woman at gunpoint and stole the Highlander he and Degruy later used to go to the Pences’ neighborhood to break into cars.
The couple led police on a short pursuit until they crashed their vehicle. Degruy was nabbed immediately but Allen jumped off a bridge into the Industrial Canal in a failed escape attempt.
“He was apprehended in the canal,” Fortunato says..
Fortunato says Degruy told detectives that after the murders, Allen returned to the car and told her, “Let’s get out of here. I just shot two people.”
Fortunato says the shotgun used in the murders was later found in Allen’s home.
On April 26, Allen was booked on two counts of first-degree murder. Degruy was charged with two counts of accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.
“There is a great sigh of relief for the community that they know we made an arrest and got the suspects off the street,” Fortunato says.
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