LAPLACE, La. – Two St. John Parish deputies were killed and two others were wounded early Thursday morning in a crime scene that extended from the parking lot for a major refinery to a nearby trailer park.
Five suspects, said by State Police to be both male and female, were either in custody or receiving medical treatment. Neither their identities nor their possible motives were made public by law enforcement.
The investigation into the shooting carried on late into the evening Thursday, hours after the incident began around 5 a.m.
A Shreveport Times story identified four of the suspects involved in the shooting. According to the story, one suspect has ties to an anti-government group and was wanted in Nebraska for making terrorist threats. Several of the suspects had been under surveillance in Desoto Parish, and the FBI had been in contact with the sheriff after the shooting in St. John Parish.
“One of the hardest days of my life so far,” said Sheriff Mike Tregre, who was tasked with making the phone calls to the families of the deceased and wounded. “Law enforcement is a profession where on a given day you can take a life, save a life or give your own life.”
Brandon Nielsen and Jeremy Triche died in a shooting at a trailer park as they followed up on a lead of a suspect’s car. Tregre referred to the shooting first as an ambush and later as an assassination. Jason Triche was wounded at the trailer park.
“When I walked out, I seen somebody drop. I didn’t know it was a cop. I just found out afterwards it was a cop,” said Medford Auguste.
The shooting unfolded not far from Auguste’s home at the Scenic Riverview Mobile Homepark, where he says bullets entered his trailer.
“Sounded like I was in Vietnam.”
Deputies Mike Boyington was injured in an initial shooting at a parking lot for Valero Energy contractors as they were working parking detail. Both officers were brought to hospitals for emergency surgery. The motive for the shootings was not known at the time of a 3 p.m. press conference, said Tregre.
According to Tregre, the shooting in the parking lot, which wounded Boyington and Jason Triche, led to calls describing a suspect’s car. Deputies got a lead on the vehicle and traced it to the Riverview Trailer Park.
Once there, Tregre said the officers confronted a man at the door and saw another person laying in a bed. Those two people were brought outside for questioning and shortly thereafter, a third person came out of another door and fatally shot the officers.
Tregre said that he believes all the suspects connected to the two shootings are in custody. It has not been detailed which of those suspects were injured, nor where they were apprehended or if they had a gun battle with other deputies.
The investigation into the shootings has been handed over to State Police, according to Tregre.
State Police Superintendent Michael Edmonson said that his investigation team would work closely with Tregre’s deputies and investigators.
“We have a large crime scene here,” said Edmonson. “(We have) multiple locations, multiple weapons and multiple gunshots. Our goal is not expediency… our goal is conviction.”
Many law enforcement agencies responded to the calls of officers in danger with several nearby parishes offering help.
Tregre, choked up with emotion in dealing with a tragic situation just 45 days into his tenure as St. John Parish Sheriff, thanked everyone for the support, the blood drives and offers of help.
“My officers that were killed this morning, were simply doing their jobs,” he said. "I lost two good officers today."