Violent career criminal out on parole shot and killed by mother protecting her children after he invaded her home


HAMMOND, LA – A career criminal has been shot and killed by a mother protecting her family after attempting to force his way into a home. The criminal was out on parole after serving prison time for armed robbery at the time of his death.

The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office received a call of shots being fired on January 8th just before 5 a.m. in the area of Klein Road. When deputies arrived on the scene, they located 51-year-old Robert Rheams deceased at the scene.

Investigators spoke to the homeowner and learned that Rheams, who had a criminal history, had broken into the home in the early morning hours and had been armed with a shovel and lug wrench. Detectives have not released whether Rheams knew the residents or if this was a random attack.

After breaking into the home, he came into contact with a mother who was protecting her two young children inside. Investigators reported the mother confronted Rheams and a physical confrontation ensued between the two.

During the physical altercation, the mother, who was not identified by police, was able to retrieve a firearm from inside the home. Seemingly fearing that Rheams would kill her and/or her children, she fired one shot, striking Rheams in the upper thigh. The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office reported:

“During the incident, a physical altercation took place between Rheams and the homeowner which ultimately led to Rheams being shot by the homeowner. Rheams was later pronounced deceased on scene by the Tangipahoa Parish Coroner’s Office.”

The Sheriff’s Office has not reported if Rheams knew the mother or not, however, it does not appear as if he did since he had been on a violent crime spree before the fatal home invasion. Investigators Rheams’ final night of violence seemingly started when he robbed two people in a parking lot and then a convenience store before trying to carjack a good Samaritan.

Investigators reported around 8 p.m. on the 7th, Rheams approached two people who were standing in a parking lot and robbed them. After robbing the two victims, he went inside a Sunoco gas station and fired a shot from a gun into the counter before walking behind the counter to the register.

Rheams caught on video surveillance, fires several gunshots into the cash register drawer to force it open. As he is pulling the money from the drawer, he seemingly accidentally fires several rounds as he is trying to take the cash. Chief Travis reported:

“Robert Rheams armed with a 40 caliber, semi-automatic handgun with a drum magazine in the handgun walked into the parking lot of the convenience store and robbed two subjects who were in the parking lot. The clerk saw him coming towards the door, he basically runs for safety. Rheams enters the store and starts firing.”

After robbing the store, Rheams exits and finds someone willing to give him a ride, not knowing he had just committed several violent felonies. As the unidentified man was driving Rheams on the old Baton Rouge Highway, Rheams began attacking the driver. Chief Travis said:

“Rheams starts attacking the driver of the car, starts punching him and choking him, causing him to an abrupt stop into the ditch.”

After hitting the ditch, the driver of the car took the opportunity to flee the vehicle and get away from Rheams. Rheams attempted to drive the car away, however, the vehicle was stuck and he abandoned the car and fled the area.

Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office Chief Jimmy Travis reported that this was not Rheams’ first brush with the law. He had been out on parole at the time of the attack after serving twenty years in prison. The press release from the Sheriff’s Office stated:

“At the time of the incident, Rheams was out on parole after serving approximately 20 years in prison for armed robbery. Detectives have also been able to tie Rheams to a carjacking which occurred hours before the home invasion.”

The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office is continuing its investigation into the matter and has reported there have been no arrests made at this point. When they have concluded their investigation into Rheem’s death, they will forward all information and evidence to the District Attorney who will review the case and make a filing decision.

While it is up to the District Attorney to determine if there were any laws broken by the mother when she shot and killed Rheams, it does not seem likely she will be charged with any crimes. According to Chief Travis:

“This case appears to be a homeowner exercising second amendment rights to protect herself and her children from a violent home invasion.”

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