Town mourns victims of tragedy
By Vershal Hogan and Josh Bergeron
FERRIDAY — Those who knew Jay Warbington and LaDean McDaniel say they will be remembered for who they were, not how they died.
Both died after being shot by their hostage taker when law enforcement authorities in St. Joseph tried to end an hours-long standoff with Fuaed Abdo Ahmed, a St. Joseph resident who had apparently become mentally unstable and taken the two hostage at Tensas State Bank, where they both worked.
Lifelong friends and more recent acquaintances alike were quick to recall Warbington’s charismatic, caring personality.
Warbington worked at the Ferriday branch of Tensas State Bank several years ago, before transferring to the Newellton branch and eventually the St. Joseph branch.
“I can’t imagine what (Warbington) went through (during the standoff),” life-long friend Ginger Langhart said. “I just know he wasn’t thinking about himself. I know he was trying to help the other two hostages stay calm.”
Warbington, originally from Wisner, moved to St. Joseph when he was in the seventh grade.
Though he was from out of town, Tensas Parish Sheriff Rickey Jones said Warbington became part of the community quickly.
“We all got our start working in the grocery store together,” Jones said. “I actually lost my father at an early age, but his family was very supportive. They opened their house to me and became sort of an extended family.”
Jones said Warbington was also a stellar athlete. Warbingon was most well known for his football prowess, but continued playing sports after graduation from Tensas Academy in 1982.
His sport of choice after graduation was intramural softball, Jones said.
“Man, he could hit a softball,” Jones said. “He was an exemplary athlete.”
He was also an avid sports fan.
“He absolutely loved LSU football and the Saints,” Langhart said. “Every time I came back home, we were going to watch the Saints, if there was a game on.”
Langhart described Warbington as a class-clown and a great storyteller.
“He could always make people laugh,” she said. “When Jay told stories, you felt like you were right in the middle of them. I just loved being around him.”
Former Tensas State Bank co-worker David Jones summed Warbington up in nine words.
“He was a big man with a bigger heart,” Jones said.
Pentecostals of the Miss-Lou Pastor the Rev. Gary Howington described McDaniel — who went by the nickname “Deannie” and was a parishioner at POML — as a woman deeply devoted to a close-knit family.
“They were the kind of people churches and local communities are built on,” Howington said. “I always considered LaDean and her family to be what the Bible calls ‘the salt of the Earth.’ If you needed something to be done, you could count on them to step up and help make it happen.”
Carlotta Pennington, a fellow-churchgoer, described McDaniel as a woman who loved her family and spoke often with pride about her son and grandchildren.
A Sunday school teacher for years, McDaniel taught very young children at POML with Pennington, and Pennington said McDaniel loved those children, too.
“We would sometimes have 12 or 13 kids in the program, and I would tell her to go to the person over the program and see if someone else could do it, and she would always say, ‘No, I can do it,’” Pennington said.
“The ones who were crying, she was the one who would always go to get them and comfort them — she was a sweet woman, and we are going to miss her so much.”
Howington described McDaniel as someone who was a powerful witness for her faith wherever she went, and Pennington said she was the kind of person who didn’t want to draw attention to herself but could be depended on no matter what.
“She is irreplaceable, and we will carry on with a hole in our lives,” Howington said.
Services for Warbington will be at 2 p.m. today at Oakley Cemetery in Wisner.
McDaniel is survived by her husband, Ronald; one son, Roderick and wife, Laura, and two grandchildren, Macy and Braxton. Her funeral will be 3 p.m. Sunday at the Pentecostals of the Miss-Lou.