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Louisiana hostage tragedy hits close to home

The shooting of a hostage at a bank in St. Joseph, La., Tuesday has hit home in Brookhaven.

Retail shop owner Laura McDaniel and her husband Rod McDaniel have spent a harrowing day and night while hostage negotiators worked to set Rod’s mother, Deanne McDaniel, free at the standoff that began at lunch Tuesday.

An Associated Press report (see related story) states that state police stormed the Tensus State Bank in St. Joseph just before midnight, and that’s when suspect Abdo Ahmed shot two hostages who were employees of the bank.

Brookhaven residents may know McDaniel through her business, Macy Taylor’s, which she owns and operates on Brookway Boulevard with her sister, Robin Smith.

Laura also has Dance Academy and teaches competitive dance. McDaniel’s mother, Betty Johnson, confirmed that McDaniel’s mother-in-law was a shooting victim and is currently in critical condition at a hospital in Alexandria, La.

“The doctors came in at 3:30 this morning and told the family that there is no way she will live; she’s lost too much blood,” Johnson said this morning. “My daughter and her husband are getting ready to take the grandchildren over now.”

Johnson said her daughter described a terrifying hostage situation.

“Right around lunch, my daughter got the call,” Johnson said. “Her husband left immediately to go to St. Joseph to be near his mother. My daughter said the man (Ahmed) was rambling and had mentioned other places he was ‘going to take care of.’ He kept them tied up and lying face down.”

Johnson said that her daughter was very close to her mother-in-law and that they were the kind of family that spent a lot of time together.

“It’s a very close family,” Johnson said. “She [Deanne McDaniel] had six sisters, and the family was so caring and loving towards one another. She and her sisters were extraordinary, and anytime my daughter Laura needed her she was there for her – those were her only grandchildren.

“She was an exceptional Christian lady and it’s just such a tragedy.”