ACA blamed for igniting rampage in Mt. Hermon

Published 1:05 am Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A tirade spawned by anger about treatment he was receiving through the Affordable Care Act ended with a Mt. Hermon man allegedly firing shots inside his home and threatening to kill his girlfriend and responding deputies before he was subdued by a Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office sniper Sunday morning.

Johnnie A. Ryals, 56, was transported to Riverside Medical Center in Franklinton where he was treated and then released to the jail, according to WPSO Chief Deputy Mike Haley.

He was charged with three counts of attempted murder, illegal discharge of a weapon, aggravated criminal damage to property, aggravated kidnapping and possession of marijuana. Bond was set at $300,000.

The WPSO was called to the Ryals residence on Louisiana Highway 438 at approximately 9:30 a.m. Several deputies responded to the scene where they learned that the girlfriend had been able to flee the residence and run into the nearby woods.

“Ryals was outside the home armed with at least seven weapons, six long guns and one semi-automatic pistol,” Haley said.

The first deputy to arrive retreated to await backup after Ryals immediately pointed a rifle at him in confrontation, he said.

Additional deputies, including a sniper, arrived and all took strategic positions around the house and suspect.

“Ryals was belligerent and hostile, yelling claims that ObamaCare had deprived him of insurance benefits and that he could not get his medicine,” Haley said. “During his tirade, Ryals pointed a rifle in the direction of deputies more than once, threatening to shoot them each time.”

A deputy and a negotiator attempted to convince Ryals to surrender peacefully, but he continued to be belligerent and to yell threats and obscenities at the officers, he said.

The standoff continued for two hours.

“Ryals once again raised his weapon and pointed it directly at deputies, again threatening to shoot them,” Haley reported. “At that time, the sniper shot Ryals one time, striking him in the left ear. He continued to struggle after he fell, and once again was pointing a weapon at deputies as they subdued him.”

One deputy was also transported to the Riverside emergency room for treatment of exposure to a blood borne pathogen obtained during the struggle with Ryals, he said. The deputy was treated and released.

Sheriff Randy Seal was at the scene in Mt. Hermon.

“This is yet another example of the extreme danger our officers face daily,” he said. “What started out as a peaceful Sunday morning ended with gunfire, all because of the reckless behavior of one individual who displayed a total disregard for the safety and welfare of others. Our officers responded promptly and did an excellent job.”