A gunman shot and wounded a St. John Parish deputy while he was directing traffic at about 5 a.m. CDT in an off-site parking lot for the Valero Energy Corp.'s St. Charles refinery, St. John Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre said.More recent reports indicate that seven people are now in custody and have been indicted in relation to the shootings.
The gunman fled, and officers investigating the incident ended up at a trailer park in LaPlace, about 25 miles west of New Orleans. As they were interviewing two suspects, someone came out of a trailer with an assault weapon and shot dead the two officers, Tregre said.
"Two of my officers were ambushed, I want to say assassinated," he said during a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
Police have not said how the fourth officer involved was wounded.
The slain deputies were identified as Brandon Nielsen, 34, and Jeremy Triche, 27. The wounded deputies were identified as Scott Boyington and Jason Triche. The Triches are related, but Tregre could not say how.
Tregre said the wounded officers remain hospitalized and described the condition of one as "improving." He gave no details of their injuries.
And who are the people arrested? It appears that at least one is involved in the anti-government group Posse Comitatus. Five have been under surveillance by law enforcement for making terroristic threats.
Authorities believe that suspect, Kyle Joekel, 29, may have ties to anti-government groups, in particular a loose organization known as Posse Comitatus that generally doesn't recognize authority above the level of county sheriff. The name of the group means "power of the county" in Latin, according to the Anti-Defamation League's website.My thoughts and prayers go out to the officers and their families and friends. They were targeted by anti-government militia-types who do not consider the government to be legitimate. They lost their lives while serving and protecting others from the likes of these groups.
Group members refuse to recognize various aspects of federal authority, and some refuse to pay taxes. The group has been associated with citizen militias as well as neo-Nazi organizations.
Lt. Robert Davidson of the DeSoto Parish Sheriff's office told The Shreveport Times that the suspects in custody include Kyle Joekel, Brian Smith, Terry Smith, 44, and Derrick Smith, 22. Terry Smith is the father of both Derrick and Brian Smith, according to Davidson, who identified. Brian Smith and Joekel as the shooters in the incident. Davidson said he did not know the name of the other suspects.
Authorities this morning confirmed the four suspects named by Davidson, plus two women: Chanel Skains, 37, and Teniecha Bright, 21.
Joekel had had run-ins with the law in Gage County, Neb., and Marshall County, Kan., last year and was considered a fugitive in both places.