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NEWORLEANS- A man who was a passenger inside of a car pulled over for a moving traffic violation pulled out a gun and began firing at officers, wounding two of them, while they were in the process of identifying the men in the car, NOPDSupt. Ronal Serpas said Thursday afternoon.
Two officers, Anthony Mayfield Jr., and Michael Asevedo, were hit several times in the shootout. Both were rushed to the hospital where they underwent surgery.
'The officers are in stable condition but they will face a long road to recovery,' said Serpas.
The suspect who pulled a gun, Justin Sipp, was shot and killed at the scene, said Serpas. His brother, Earl Sipp, was shot in the leg in the exchange. He was taken to the hospital, treated and released without major charges. He was cited for driving with a suspended license.
The incident occurred around 5:45 a.m. near North Bernadotte and Toulouse streets in Mid-City.
Serpas said Officer Jason Giroir, who made the traffic stop, for an unspecified moving violation.
'As Officer Giroir was conducting his traffic stop investigation, he became concerned and called for back up,' said Serpas. Officers Mayfield and Acevedo arrived at the scene as a backup.
'As officers Acevedo and Mayfield were ... working upon identifying Justin Sipp, and as Justin Sipp was getting out of the vehicle, we have reason to believe that Justin Sipp removed a secreted .380 handgun from his waistband and opened fire on Officers Mayfield and Acevedo,' said Serpas.
Both officers were wounded, but we're each able to return fire, along with Officer Giroir, said Serpas.
'Our investigation continues,' said Serpas, and asked anyone with information about the shooting to contact police.
According to police, officers were on pro-active patrol in Mid-City when a white Pontiac Grand Am was stopped by police near the intersection shortly after 5:30 a.m.
Around 5:45 a.m., a '108' call came across the radio -- a call for officers in immediate need of assistance. The shooting was about a block off of City Park Avenue and Delgado Community College.
'The backup arrived and about seven minutes later,' said Superintendent Ronal Serpas, 'the officers notified the dispatchers that a shooting had taken place between the officers and the persons in the vehicle.'
'It points again to the fact that there is no routine traffic stop. Traffic stops are one of the ways we police neighborhoods we police neighborhoods aggressively, proactively to give people relief and in this particular case, a traffic stop is what started this issue. I'm not sure more of the details right now,' said Serpas.
Earlier, family members identified the man who was fatally shot as Justin Sipp, 20. They have also identified his brother, Earl Sipp Jr., 23, as the man who received non-life threatening injuries.
Jerome Simon, an uncle to the brothers, described his nephews as close knit and hard working. 'They are home-body individuals. They go to work and come home, seriously. That's a fact.'
'They respect the law. I really, truly believe they won't try to harm anybody,' said Simon.
Coworker Terry Smith says Justin Sipp (pictured above) was running late for a 5 a.m. shift at the nearby Burger King on City Park Avenue.
'One of them called and said the police just stopped them behind Subway. Something told me just walk that way and I looked and saw him on the ground dead,' said Terry Smith.
Guns were found on the scene, according to police.
Neighbors described a choatic early morning scene.
'Just woke up to people screaming, being half a sleep and the next thing I know and I was looking out my window and I hear gunfire. At that point, I was so close I rolled out of bed and got away from the window,' said Dustin Young.
'There was a lot of response, a lot of yelling, there were people shot, a lot of police officers trying to get people into ambulances. It was pretty hectic,' said Nicolas Gurtler.
After the shootout, several NOPD officers rushed to University Hospital, hoping to hear more about the wounded officers' conditions.
Dr. Norman McSwain, the trauma director at University Hospital, said one officer suffered a gunshot wound to his colon and the second officer was hit in the liver by a bullet. McSwain said both officers are in stable condition and both are out of surgery.
'Just very, like, numb, sad. I'm gonna go see how he's doing. He's the one with the hurt liver and all so,' Diane Alba, a sister to one officer, said as she rushed inside the hospital to see her brother.
The injuries to the officers are not expected to be life threatening, and they have been moved to Intenstive Care at the hospital, according to Swain.
The white Pontiac, which is believed to be involved in the traffic stop, was on the scene with a body laying next to it. The girlfriend of one of the suspects said she didn't know which of the suspects was laying on the ground next to the car with 'everything coming out of his head.'
'They ( NOPD) are supposed to be protecting around here, but they're not doing their job. 'Cause if they was, they would have all the ones they keep putting back out on the streets with these guns,' she said. 'It was a regular routine day...now all of the sudden this.'
A tow truck removed the Pontiac from the scene several hours after the shooting.
In Jan. 2010, Justin Sipp plead guilty to unauthorized use/access to card/theft by credit card. His probation hearing was set for Mar. 14. The district attorney refused a Jan. 2010 armed robbery charge against Justin Sipp.
The district attorney refused a Nov. 2009 armed robbery charge against Earl Sipp Jr.
Giroir will be placed on administrative reassignment pending an investigation by the Public Integrity Bureau