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Wildlife agent shoots, kills alleged murderer in self defense

Originally published at
February 2, 2001


GALLIANO, La. (AP) -- A state wildlife agent looking for poachers found and killed a killer, police said.

The Wildlife and Fisheries Department agent, whose name was not released, was patrolling a remote area and stopped to check a Mercury Cougar parked in a sugar cane field.

Shawn M. Esponge, 36, got out of the car and fired a revolver at the agent, who was hit by shrapnel, Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said.

The agent shot back, hitting Esponge several times in the chest.

The body of Golden Meadow resident Thomas J. Gavin, 41, lay near the car. Esponge apparently had shot Gavin in the chest shortly before the wildlife agent arrived, Webre said.

Police are investigating Gavin's death as a homicide. Webre said he believed Thomas and Esponge knew one another.

Police found marijuana and crack cocaine inside Esponge's car, Webre said.

The agent was patrolling the area because poachers often illegally shoot rabbit and deer at night, said Captain Joe Matessa, of the Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division.

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