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Four killed, three wounded in Louisiana crime spree

By Jon Herskovitz

(Reuters) - A Louisiana man is suspected of killing his wife, ex-mother-in-law and a former employer before turning a shotgun on himself and committing suicide at four locations outside of New Orleans, police said on Friday.

The suspect Ben Edward Freeman, 38, was also believed to have shot three other people in the crime spree that took place on Thursday night in Lafourche Parish, about 45 miles southwest of New Orleans.

"Freeman was connected to each of the victims," Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said in a statement.

In the first incident, Freeman is suspected of shooting Lafourche Parish Councilman Louis Phillip Gouaux, his former father-in-law; Susan Gouaux, his former mother-in-law; and their daughter Andrea.

Susan Gouaux died in the shotgun shooting and the other two were in critical condition at an area hospital.

"Ben Freeman is a former son-in-law of the Gouauxs, having been formerly married to their daughter, Jeanne Gouaux," the sheriff's office said, adding that Freeman was in a bitter custody dispute over their four children.

Freeman was arrested for harassment in May 2013 and had been served with at least two protective orders, the most recent of which expired in November 2013, the office said.

About 20 minutes after the first shooting, Freeman was suspected of going to the home of hospital chief executive Milton Bourgeois and opening fire. Freeman had once been an employee of the hospital where Bourgeois worked and was sacked in 2011, the sheriff's office said.

Bourgeois was shot at close range and died. His wife was shot in the leg and was recovering after surgery.

Freeman's body was found later that night in a car along the side of a road with a shotgun wound to the head. No suicide note was found.

The body of his wife, Denise Taylor Freeman, was found at the home the couple shared and it appears she was strangled and drowned, the sheriff's office said. (Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Kevin Gray, Jim Marshall and Vicki Allen)

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