LAPLACE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana State Police now has six people in custody in connection with shootings that left two sheriff's deputies dead and two others wounded Thursday.
According to sources, one of the suspects in custody is Kyle Joekel, 29, a fugitive from Nebraska. It's not clear exactly what role he played in the tragic shooting. Sources also said one or more of the suspects arrested may be contract workers for Valero and added the individuals consider themselves "sovereign citizens."
Deputy Brandon Nielson, 34, a husband and father of five, had been with the St. John the Baptist Sheriff's Office for nearly two years. Deputy Jeremy Triche, 27, a 4-year veteran, leaves behind his wife and 2-year-old son. Deputies Jason Triche, 30, and Michael Boyington II, 33, are recovering from their wounds and expected to survive.
The shooting has left an entire law enforcement family crippled.
"I was awoken by the gunshots this morning," said Jody Malley, a witness to the shooting.
It was a rude awakening for neighbors, fellow deputies and more importantly, families whose lives have changed forever.
"I lost two good officers today," said Sheriff Mike Tregre.
It all started in the Valero parking lot around 5 a.m. Investigators said a gunman opened fire on Deputy Jason Triche, hitting him and his car multiple times. That bullet-riddled vehicle was taken to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab. Deputies then followed a speeding vehicle to a trailer park.
"As we were interviewing the two persons, the two subjects, another person exited that trailer with an assault weapon and ambushed, ambushed my two officers," Tregre explained.
Malley said he heard multiple gunshots.
"I couldn't tell you. It was enough to know it was something going on," said Malley.
It was much later in the day when Malley realized that "something" was how two deputies died in the line of duty, just feet from his own trailer. Officials closed off the scene as they searched for any clues.
While many law enforcement members and those who were first responders are doing their job, they're trying to swallow a tough pill.
"They're brothers," said Joel Pattison with Southern Law Enforcement Foundation. "We're all brothers and sisters in law enforcement, so when it affects one of us, especially one so close to home where I work, it affects us dearly."
It's why fellow officers with the Southern Law Enforcement Foundation are in LaPlace providing a support group for first responders with the primary goal being getting the men and women with badges back on the streets.
"Could've done this or could've done that. Well, we want them to know those are completely normal reactions and you're not alone and that a lot of us have been there," said Pattison.
"Please pray for the two officers that were ambushed early this morning," Tregre asked of the public.
He also asked for people to pray for the two deputies that were wounded. Several blood drives are scheduled in their honor.
A candlelight vigil will be held Friday at 8 p.m. at the St. John the Baptist Sheriff's Office.