Man kills wife, self, 1 other at Work


His spouse had undergone harassment since breakup

July 14, 2005

By Michelle Hunter and Mark Waller

      After Barbara Cavalier left her husband six months ago, he had no idea where she was living.

      But he knew where she worked.

      Wednesday afternoon, Chris Cavalier armed himself with two pistols, walked into the Elmwood siding supply business where Barbara was a data entry clerk, shot and killed her and another employee then took his own life, authorities said.

      "He told her, 'You're going to die tonight, and I'm going to die,' " said Wholesale Siding Supply owner Billy Deckwa Jr., whom Chris Cavalier briefly held hostage. "He told me I could leave, that he was not angry with me."

      Also dead is office manager Stephanie Revolta, 42, of LaPlace. Revolta, a friend of Barbara Cavalier's, stayed in the building to try to defuse the situation, authorities said.

      "He shot Stephanie first," Deckwa said.

      Revolta made the first 911 call to authorities about 3:30 p.m. when Chris Cavalier entered the supply company, in a row of warehouses at 4735 River Road.

      By the time a hostage negotiator arrived and members of the Sheriff's Office SWAT team rushed the building, all three were dead. Revolta's body was found on the ground near the front door of the business, Sheriff Harry Lee said. Barbara Cavalier was on the floor in an office. Chris Cavalier was in the same office, leaning against a desk with a gunshot wound to the head, said Col. John Fortunato, a Sheriff's Office spokesman.

      Deckwa and coworkers said Chris Cavalier had been harassing his wife all day, repeatedly calling and even stealing her pick-up. Deckwa's wife, Doris, said Barbara Cavalier was afraid to go home Wednesday evening, fearing her estranged husband might find out where she was now living.

      Employees flee

      At least four other employees were inside the business when Chris Cavalier burst in with a .45-caliber automatic pistol and a .357-caliber Magnum revolver, Deckwa said.

      "Once we saw the gun, we got out," said an employee who would not give his name. "There was no time to do anything else."

      Deckwa and Revolta were in the office with Barbara Cavalier.

      "He said he was going to kill all of us," said Deckwa, who added that Chris Cavalier appeared to be intoxicated.

      Barbara Cavalier began crying and pleading with her husband.

      "He told Barbara, 'I'm going to kill your friend first,' and then he shot" Revolta, Deckwa said.

      Chris Cavalier then told Deckwa to leave. As Deckwa walked past Barbara Cavalier, she grabbed his leg. But Chris Cavalier kicked his wife away.

      Deckwa said he heard a shot as he was walking out, but said Barbara Cavalier was still alive.

      "She was begging for her life when I left," he said.

      A deputy sheriff who arrived minutes later approached the warehouse but saw only one man inside and no weapon, Lee said. When the deputy took a second look, Cavalier fired a shot at him.

      As that deputy, and another who arrived at the same time, took cover, they overheard four or five shots, Lee said.

      More than 20 officers had surrounded the business by 4 p.m., taking up positions with guns trained on the door. The standoff ended at 4:30 p.m. when the SWAT team entered the building and found the bodies.

      Relatives grief-stricken

      Relatives of both women and Chris Cavalier rushed to the scene but were kept back by authorities. When Revolta's daughter, Sabrina Moldaner, 18, arrived, she quickly collapsed to the ground after learning about her mother's death. Moldaner curled up on the concrete in tears, screaming, "I want my mommy."

      Revolta's mother, Nita Restel, said her daughter was a friend of Barbara Cavalier's but was not closely involved with the couple's struggles. She couldn't understand why Chris Cavalier turned his gun on her.

      "She was a wife and a mother, a daughter, a beautiful young woman, her life ahead of her," Restel said. "This makes no sense at all. Why would he shoot this girl?"

      Barbara Cavalier's mother, Pat Neal, sat on the stairs of another warehouse unit a few doors down from Wholesale Siding, clutching an 8-by-10 framed photograph of her daughter.

      "This is Barbara right there," she said, pointing to the big smile on her daughter's face. "That's my baby."

      Neal said Barbara and Chris Cavalier had been married for about seven years. They met when Barbara Cavalier was working as a waitress in a Kenner diner, she said.

      Chris Cavalier, a construction carpenter, had been abusive throughout the marriage, said Neal and Albert Morgan, Barbara Cavalier's brother. He also had a drinking problem, Neal said. He tried counseling and stopped for a while, but that didn't last long, she said.

      "Chris was a nice guy as long as he wasn't drinking," Morgan said.

      Attempts to gather comment from relatives of Chris Cavalier on Wednesday night were unsuccessful.

      He put gun to her head

      Despite the abuse, Barbara Cavalier never left her husband or had him arrested, Neal said. She had consulted with an attorney, but divorce proceedings had not begun.

      Barbara Cavalier made the decision to leave in January after her husband put a gun to her head, Neal said. According to coworkers, she did not tell her husband where she had moved. But, unfortunately, he knew that she had worked at Wholesale Siding for the past five years. There, she made friends with Revolta, an employee for seven years, Deckwa said.

      Doris Deckwa described the company as a tight-knit place where everybody is a friend. She said the Cavaliers even went to the Deckwa house to help set up their Christmas tree.

      "She was like my daughter," Doris Deckwa said of Revolta. "And Barbara, too."

      But, after the split, Chris Cavalier began to harass his wife at work, constantly calling her during the day. Doris Deckwa said she suspects he shot Revolta because she had hung up on him when he called Wednesday.

      The Deckwas and Revolta's relatives said they never imagined things would end the way they did.

      But authorities said they believe Chris Cavalier already knew the day would end in bloodshed when he left his Metairie home Wednesday. Lee did not release the address, but said deputies who searched the house found a note assigning power of attorney and listing some valuables that Chris Cavalier wanted to give away.

      Neal said her daughter was afraid that her estranged husband might resort to violence.

      "Barbara was a wonderful person," she said. "She had her whole life ahead of her and it's over."

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