LaPlace, La. - Two St. John the Baptist Parish deputies were shot and killed Thursday morning and two other deputies were wounded in what Sheriff Mike Tregre called an "ambush."
The initial shooting happened around 5:30 a.m. at a parking lot off La. Highway 3217, used by contractors working at the nearby Valero St. Charles Refinery.
Sheriff Tregre said a deputy was working a security detail at the lot and was shot and wounded there.
Tregre said someone called deputies with a description of a car fleeing the scene, and officers tracked it to a nearby mobile home park.
When officers found the car, they handcuffed a suspect outside a mobile home, then knocked on its door. Tregre said someone with a dog answered.
"Another person exited that trailer with an assault weapon and ambushed my two officers," Tregre said. Two deputies were killed and a third was wounded.
Two suspects were wounded in the shootout before officers subdued them, Tregre said.
The deputies killed in the shooting have been identified as 34-year-old Brandon Nielsen, a two-year veteran and 27-year-old Jeremy Triche, a four-year veteran.
The wounded deputies have been identified as 33-year-old Michael Scott Boyington, a three-year veteran, and 30-year-old Jason Triche, a 10-year veteran.
The Triches were related, Tregre said, though he did not know how. It remained unclear where Jason Triche was shot.
Tregre said Nielson is survived by his wife and five children, and Jeremy Triche by his wife and 2-year-old son.
Jason Triche is undergoing surgery at University Hospital in New Orleans. Boyington was taken to River Parishes Hospital. Sheriff Tregre said in a Thursday afternoon news conference that Triche and Boyington's conditions were improving at last report.
The sheriff also reported that five people, both male and female, are in custody in connection with the shootings. He did not identify them. Two of them were wounded in the mobile home shooting, but they are expected to survive.
Col. Mike Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police told reporters at the news conference, "We have the people in custody that we're talking to right now, or they're in the hospital, that we believe are responsible for this."
He said none have been charged at this point.
Edmonson said, "I can tell you it was multiple weapons, and I can tell you it was multiple gunshots, in excess of 20 gunshots. We need to find those casings -- those casings will tell us exactly how many gunshots."
The State Police are leading the investigation and are assisted by several law enforcement organizations, including the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office, the Slidell Police Department and the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office.
Even after the news conference, we still do not know many details of the shootings, nor have we been told which deputies were shot at which location.
"I wish I could give a rhyme or reason," Edmonson said. "I can't give one. We've seen far too much of this across our nation. A small community like this, awakened early in the morning to multiple gunshots."
Bill Day, spokesman for Valero Energy Corp., said operations at the refinery had not been affected. Valero employees were being asked to report to work as normal, unless they park at the lot where the incident took place.
Some other plants in the area were letting non-essential workers in the area leave for the day or were telling them not to report for work as the search continued.
Gov. Bobby Jindal ordered the state flags flown at half-staff over the state Capitol and all public buildings and institutions until sunset Friday. The move, described as "an expression of respect for the four sheriff's deputies," was effective immediately, the governor's order said.