Marshall County Native Dies in the Line of Duty

A Marshall County native and John Marshall High School graduate was killed in the line of duty following an altercation with a gunman last month in Louisiana.

Frederick “Rick” Riggenbach, 53, died Jan. 28 after being shot while responding to a report of a man walking down the road setting fires to homes and carrying a gun in Charenton, La. That suspect, Wilbert Thibodeaux, had been arrested for disorderly conduct at the Cypress Bayou Casino for making threats to burn down the casino and kill numerous people. After posting bond, it was reported Thibodeaux was “carrying a gas can, a Bible and a gun” while walking toward the casino.

On the way there, Thibodeaux allegedly gunned down an elderly man and set fire to his mobile home. Police responded, including Riggenbach, a four-year member of Chitimacha Tribal Police Department. After a brief standoff, Thibodeaux shot and wounded two young officers, prompting Riggenbach to pull them to the safety of a squad car. Riggenbach was able to shoot Thibodeaux twice, though neither shot was fatal. Thibodeaux returned fire, striking Riggenbach, who died later that day.

On Thursday, Riggenbach’s parents, Robert and Sharon of Burch Ridge in Marshall County, said their son had just been home to visit for Thanksgiving, and that they had spoken to him not long before the shooting happened. Sharon Riggenbach said her son loved his family and checked in often. He leaves behind a wife, three daughters and a son.

After graduating from high school in the late 1970s, Rick Riggenbach joined the U.S. Navy. He then moved to Louisiana in the early 1980s to work in the oilfields before eventually becoming a law enforcement officer. He spend 15 years in law enforcement veteran, including 10 years as a sheriff’s deputy.

Sharon Riggenbach said thousands of people attended Rick’s funeral Jan. 31, many taking a moment to let the family know how heroic an effort Rick made in saving the lives of the two deputies and possibly hundreds more.

“They told us he saved a lot of lives through his actions,” Robert Riggenbach said. “They said (Thibodeaux) planned to do a lot more harm at the casino.”

The Riggenbachs said the showing of support at the funeral and the following procession, which was nine miles long and consisted of more than 500 law enforcement vehicles, helped ease the pain of losing their son. Also included in the procession was the American flag that was taken from the World Trade Center after Sept. 11, which Sharon and Robert said was an honor to have.

In addition to his parents, Rick’s brother Robert lives on Burch Ridge, and a sister, Michelle Harrison, lives in Wheeling.