2 St. John deputies slain, 2 injured in shooting

Published 7:49 am Friday, August 17, 2012

LAPLACE – Just 45 days into his inaugural term as sheriff of St. John the Baptist Parish, Mike Tregre on Thursday was faced with what he called one of the hardest days of his entire 26-year law enforcement career.

Two of his deputies were shot and killed in an ambush at a LaPlace trailer park. The deputies were responding to a separate shooting of another deputy working a detail Thursday morning near a LaPlace parking lot that is used by contractors at the Valero St. Charles refinery, Tregre said. A fourth deputy was also wounded in the incidents.

St. John Sheriff’s deputies Jeremy Triche, 28, and Brandon Nielsen, 34, were shot and killed in the ambush at the trailer park, Tregre said. Two other deputies, Jason Triche and Michael “Scott” Boyington, were airlifted from the scene to local hospitals, where they underwent surgery. Triche was transported to River Parishes Hospital in LaPlace and Boyington was taken to LSU Interim Public Hospital in New Orleans. Their conditions were not known late Thursday, Tregre said.

“My officers that were killed this morning in St. John Parish were simply doing their job as other officers do every day across this country,” Tregre said. “Law enforcement is a profession where one day you may take a life, save a life or give your own and today was one of those days.”

Concrete details as to the motive of the shooting are still very limited and authorities are not speculating anything at this time. Louisiana State Police is handling the investigation, but law enforcement agencies from across the region came in to contribute manpower throughout the day, Tregre said.

“I want to say thank you to the law enforcement around the country who have called to offer their condolences,” Tregre said

According to State Police, Boyington, 33, was working a detail at the lot, on the corner of Airline Highway and La. 3217, when a gunman pulled up to his vehicle and opened fire sometime around 5 a.m. A witness called police, and gave a description of a speeding vehicle that led deputies to River View Trailer Park on River Road in LaPlace. There, officers were ambushed while questioning suspects.

Tregre said deputies approached a trailer at the park, knocked on the door and questioned the man who answered. During questioning, deputies spotted another man, fully clothed, hiding under a blanket. Tregre said deputies asked both men to come out of the trailer and both complied.

Tregre said while the deputies were interviewing the two suspects, a third man came out of the trailer with an assault rifle and began firing. Tregre said Nielsen and Jeremy Triche were shot to death at the scene.

Tregre said a total of five people, men and women, are in custody, but authorities are still trying to determine exactly what happened. He said no one has been charged. Tregre added that the public safety risk was minimized fairly quickly as support teams from Jefferson, St. Charles, St. James and Ascension Parishes responded to the area to aid in the search for additional suspects. He also said authorities from other agencies were standing guard at area hospitals were suspects are being treated for gunshot wounds.

Nielsen, who joined the sheriff’s office less than two years ago, and Triche, a four-year-veteran of the force, are the first St. John the Baptist Parish deputies to die in the line of duty since 2006, according to the sheriff’s office website. Captain Octavio “Ox” Gonzalez was killed in an ambush on June 16, 2006, during a manhunt for a suspect who had shot another deputy earlier.

Nielsen leaves behind a wife and five children. Triche is survived by a wife and 2-year-old son. Tregre said Jeremy Triche and Jason Triche were not related.

Tregre also praised the St. John Parish community as a whole, which has offered condolences, food and other help to the Sheriff’s Office. He asked that citizens “keep praying every day for my department for my officers that they may get through this mentally. I met with all of them this morning and all seem to be holding up very well.”