“I thought maybe it was fire crackers, but when you see fire trucks and all that you say something’s wrong,” says Dinah Christy who was nearby the Upton Law Firm as a gunman opened fire inside.
Police say 47-year-old Roderick Rist of Slidell drove to the Upton Law Firm on the 800 block of North Columbia Street just after 1pm in a silver pickup truck armed with four semi-automatic weapons and several magazines.
They say he started firing from outside, shattering the front door, and he didn’t stop until he made his way in, eventually firing off about 60 rounds before turning the gun on himself.
The Upton Law Firm is just feet away from the Covington Courthouse. Authorities say when they first arrived they prepared for the worst.
“They didn’t know if they were dealing with an active shooter or not. They entered the law office and cleared it and in the process of clearing it found an employee of the law office hiding in the office. They escorted her out safely, continued clearing the building, and in the process found a deceased adult male,” says Captain Jack West with Covington Police.
Tonight attorney Patricia Upton is calling the scene a miracle. She says she decided to take this summer off to stay home with her kids, her husband, Tim Upton, was at a late lunch which rarely happens, their paralegal had a doctor’s appointment, and the office manager who was inside miraculously hid in time.
Upton says Roderick Rist is a former personal injury client dating back to two years ago. His case was settled eight months ago, and just three days ago he had called the firm asking for free help on a case in Orleans Parish.
She says he was referred to an attorney in New Orleans and didn’t hear back from him until this happened. She said Rist had been complaining about his life and sounded depressed.
Police say Rist has an ex-wife and kids. They say they’ll spend tonight processing the scene and begin conducting interviews with his family tomorrow,