NEW: The suspects are "some of the most violent, evil people on the planet," sheriff says
NEW: 5 of those arrested were in a car that sped from the first shooting, state police say
A Louisiana sheriff's deputy directing traffic was shot and wounded, police have said
A short time later, 2 responding deputies die and another is hurt in a nearby shooting
Four men and three women have been arrested in connection with shootings that left two Louisiana sheriff’s deputies dead and two others wounded, police said Friday.
Their arrests, and the preliminary charges they are facing, follow a pair of allegedly linked shootings early Thursday in LaPlace, a community of about 30,000 people located roughly 25 miles west of New Orleans.
Five of those arrested are now in jail, while the two others remain hospitalized for treatment of gunshot wounds, Louisiana State Police spokesman Melissa Matey said Friday.
St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Michael Tregre called the slain and wounded deputies “heroes” and described those arrested as “some very violent individuals.”
“The people that (the deputies) lost their lives for, that we have in custody, I believe are some of the most violent, evil people on the planet,” Tregre said Friday.
All the charges levied against the suspects, thus far, apply to the first shooting that occurred around 5 a.m. in a parking lot near the Bayou Steel plant in LaPlace, according to police.
A man there shot Deputy Michael Boyington from the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office – who was directing traffic at the time – several times, Tregre said Thursday. Despite his injuries, Boyington told dispatchers about the suspect. His description, along with a civilian report of a speeding car, led responding officers to a nearby trailer park, the sheriff said.
Col. Michael Edmonson, superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, said Friday that investigators have determined that five of those under arrest were in the car that sped from the scene.
Boyington is at University Hospital in New Orleans, where Tregre said he had visited him and found him to be “very good, upbeat, very positive, very strong.” A law enforcement source who was not authorized to speak on the record said Thursday that the deputy had been shot in the shoulder and is expected to survive.
“He just wanted me to tell everyone that he’ll be back to work Monday,” Tregre said Friday.
Brian Lyn Smith, 24, will be charged with attempted first-degree murder of a police officer tied to Boyington’s shooting, police said.
Four others – 44-year-old Terry Smith, 22-year-old Derrick Smith, 28-year-old Kyle David Joekel and 21-year-old Teniecha Bright – each face charges of being a principal to attempted first-degree murder of a police officer. Chanel Skains, 37, and Brittney Keith, 23, have been charged with being an accessory after the fact to attempted first-degree murder of a police officer, authorities said.
Brian Smith and Joekel will be formally charged after their release from the hospital, according to information released Friday by the parish sheriff’s office.
“Once … the hospital says, they’re OK and they can leave the hospital, believe me, they’re going straight to jail,” Edmonson said of the two hospitalized suspects.
All those facing charges lived in one of three nearby addresses on the same street in LaPlace. And they could face additional charges tied to the second shooting later Thursday at a trailer park in that same city.
In that incident, deputies who had gone there to investigate the initial shooting were questioning two people when a man ambushed them, Tregre said.
Multiple weapons were used and at least 20 shots were fired in this shooting, according to Edmonson.
St. John the Baptist Sheriff’s Deputies Brandon Nielsen, 34, and Jeremy Triche, 28, were killed in the gunfire. Nielsen was married with five children and Triche had a wife and a 2-year-old son, Tregre told reporters.
Deputy Jason Triche – who is not related to Jeremy Triche – was wounded in that shooting, according to Louisiana State Trooper Evan Harrell.
Jason Triche is “recovering very, very well” at LaPlace’s River Parishes Hospital, where Tregre visited him and said he believes that he was taken off a ventilator Friday and “couldn’t really speak, but he could write.”
As to the overall investigation, the state police superintendent stressed Friday that “there are a lot of things that we don’t know and that we will find out,” vowing that authorities will “very tediously, very delicately” compile evidence and interview witnesses.
“We’ll build our case on what we know now, (including about) the individuals in the car. And now we are going to work our way back to the scene where those two deputies were killed,” Edmonson said. “It’s going to take us a while to do that.”
The slain and wounded sheriff’s deputies will be honored Friday at a candlelight vigil, which starts at 8 p.m. (9 p.m. ET) in front of the Percy Hebert Building in LaPlace, Tregre said.
In addition, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans will be lit in blue Friday night and there will be a moment of silence to remember Nielsen and Jeremy Triche before the New Orleans Saints take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in an NFL pre-season game, according to the sheriff.
CNN’s Rick Martin contributed to this report.