Parents of accidentally shot student file lawsuit

The parents of a 7-year-old shot May 15 in a Moss Bluff Elementary School classroom filed suit Friday against a 50-year-old Moss Bluff man charged in connection with the incident.

“The family is on a roller coaster ride of emotions — everything from sorrow to anger to angst to wanting to do something about it,” said attorney Ron Richard. “But at the same time, they are just helpless, hoping for the best and trying to attend their child.”

Gage Meche was accidentally shot in the abdomen by a child who picked up a gun that fell out of the backpack of another student. He was flown to Lafayette for treatment and came home briefly last weekend before returning to Lafayette on Monday with complications.

Richard said Meche has endured four major surgeries in the last 10 days. “The last one involved literally removing all of his intestines, cleaning and clearing out infection and fluids, and then placing them (back) in his body,” he said.

Richard said the boy’s condition remains serious and that he will remain in Lafayette for a while. He said there was a “real chance” that returning to normal might not happen for the young boy. “With an abdominal wound of this nature, there is a very real possibility of bowel problems for life,” he said.

Richard said Meche’s parents, Trinity Meche and Krista LeBleu, filed suit against Michael Dugas, father of the boy who took the.380-caliber semi-automatic handgun to school, because they needed to “feel like something was being done towards the defendant who put this in action.” But he admitted that the likelihood of any financial recovery from Dugas was “very, very slim.”

He said the family, who are avid hunters, also wanted to send a message about how important it is to secure firearms and educate children on gun safety.

Sheriff Tony Mancuso said the gun taken to the school had been kept in a shoe organizer in the room the boy shared with his 17-year-old brother, Jake Dugas, who received the gun from their father. Mancuso said a fireproof gun safe was only a few feet away, unlocked and unused.

Richard said the family wants to meet with Calcasieu Parish School Board officials to work on a program to educate students on gun safety.

They would also like to be part of “affecting some legislation that might provide for a stiffer penalty” in similar incidents, Richard said. Dugas was charged May 18 with two misdemeanors in connection with the shooting: negligent injuring and improper supervision of a minor. Jake Dugas was also charged with negligent injuring.

Richard said he has spoken with state Rep. Stephen Dwight, R-Moss Bluff, and that they are “going to get together and work on some things.”

Michael Dugas is in the Calcasieu Correctional Center. He was ordered on May 18 to be held without bond after a previous bond connected to a November 2015 vehicular homicide he has yet to go on trial for was revoked due to his violating a special condition.

Richard said an account at Jeff Davis Bank was set up under “MBE First Grade Student,” with the funds going to assist Meche and his family.