Mike Perlstein and Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
FBI agents went door to door Friday, talking to neighbors at the Riverview Mobile Home Park in LaPlace. Crime scene tape is still up outside a group of trailers where two St. John Parish deputies Brando Nielsen and Jeremy Triche lost their lives and a third deputy was wounded in a barrage of gunfire Thursday morning.
As the investigation into the tragic shooting continues, authorities have released the names of seven suspects arrested in the case.
Twenty-four-year old Brian Lyn Smith was charged with attempted first degree murder. His father, 44-year-old Terry Smith, his other son 22-year-old Derrick Smith, 28-year-old Kyle David Joekel and 21-year-old Teniecha Bright are facing principal to attempted first degree murder charges.
Twenty-three-year-old Britney Keith and 37-year-old Chanel Melissa Skains are charged with accessory after the fact.
These charges deal only with the earlier shooting of Deputy Michael Boyington outside a Valero parking lot.
"We have in custody, I believe, some of the most violent, evil people on the planet," said St. John Parish Sheriff Mike Trege.
Two months ago deputies in Desoto Parish had the Smith's and Joekel under surveillance at a trailer park in the town of Mansfied.
Joekel had active warrants in Kansas and Nebraska for drugs, resisting arrest and threatening a police officer. Court documents from Joekel’s Nebraska case, generated out of Gage County, show he is wanted in a marijuana distribution conspiracy.
An affidavit from Joekel’s sister, Kady Agena, states that she alerted authorities about her brother’s suspicious behavior because “she believed he might be involved in drug conspiracy” and “she was very scared and needed to tell police what was going on.”
The court documents also detail the confiscation by police of a “brick” of money valued at $30,110 that Joekel left behind as bail money should he get arrested. The money was retrieved during a search of the home where Joekel was staying. In a dead-bolted door hidden behind a bookshelf, police said a so-called “safe room” also contained “five rifles, several empty handgun cases, several handgun holsters and approximately 30,000 rounds of live ammunition.”
As alarming as the arsenal was, Joekel’s sister stated that officers left behind the guns and ammunition because they were not illegal, but confiscated the cash.
According to the website of the Gage County, Nebraska Sheriff’s Office, Joekel also was wanted there for making “terrorist threats.” Lt. Robert Davidson of DeSoto Parish said Joekel had ties to “an anti-government group.”
Terry Smith also claimed to have ties to an anti-government group. On Smith’s Facebook profile, he lists “Independent Citizens Movement” under his “political views.” Included in Smith’s profile photos are two pictures in which he is holding what appears to be a semi-automatic pistol in front of his face. The caption next to one of the photos reads, “Don’t move HATER my finger is on the trigger.”
"There are lot of things coming in from different parts of the state and different parts of the country," said Louisiana State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson. "We're aware of all of that, believe me, trust me."
Back at Riverview, Michael Welch says he recently moved to LaPlace to be close to the Smiths who are related to his wife.
"I knew they owned weapons, we took them to the range to shoot them, you know," said Welch. "They never acted aggressive with them, you know or brandish them around." As far as alleged shooter Brian Smith, Welch said he never saw his violent side.
"Brian, I mean, he seemed slightly paranoid or whatever, but he didn't seem like he could harm somebody. He seemed like one of those misguided kids is what it was."
Welch says most of those in the group arrested in the shooting worked for a contractor at a diesel facility near the Valero St. Charles Refinery.