Honoring a fallen hero

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 22, 2012



LAPLACE – Law enforcement officials from across the state and across the nation descended on St. John the Baptist Parish Monday to join family and friends of St. John Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Triche as he was laid to rest on what would have been his 28th birthday.

Triche and fellow Deputy Brandon Nielsen were shot and killed Thursday morning while they were investigating an earlier shooting that injured Deputy Michael Scott Boyington. Deputy Jason Triche was also wounded in the incident.

An overflow crowd packed New Wine Christian Fellowship for the visitation and then moved on to St. Joan of Arc Church in LaPlace, where Archbishop Gregory Aymond and the Rev. John Tran officiated the funeral service. Meanwhile outside, a large number of motorcycle patrol officers from across the state parked their bikes outside the church and waited to lead the procession to St. John Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

The services were closed to all but family, friends and law enforcement members, but many in the community lined the streets where the funeral procession traveled so they could express their support for the fallen deputy and show the family the region stands beside them.

“This sort of thing just does not happen here, and it shouldn’t happen anywhere,” said Shelly DeJean, an employee of Riverlands Insurance who joined her co-workers outside the office doors on West Fifth Street to watch the procession drive past. “It is a huge loss for the community. We have all lost family members, but this just seems so senseless.”

George Loupe, a resident of Twin Oaks Nursing Home, which is directly across from the church, reflected on what it means to be a police officer as he sat and watched the procession.

“Officers leave the house for the day and don’t know if they are going to come home in the evening,” Loupe said. “They sacrifice so much for us, and it is great to see the community come together like this. It is sad that it takes such a tragedy for it to happen.”

Others, like LaPlace resident Robert Conrad, who stood with co-workers along West Fifth Street waving American flags, said he was amazed to see the amount of support from other agencies, including some from Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina.

“It’s really awe inspiring to see how many agencies came in to support the family,” Conrad said. “They have a strong brotherhood.”

Kat Powell, an employee at Twin Oaks Nursing Home, said she knew Triche’s grandparents and was also close with St. John sheriff’s deputies Capt. Octavio “Ox” Gonzalez and Deputy Barton Granier, both of whom died in the line of duty.

“I stood along the highway the same as today to watch the procession for Ox in 2006,” Powell said. “I think everyone in the community has been sad since Thursday.”

As countless residents lined the streets near the church and the cemetery, others in the community offered support in other ways. Members of the Sheriff’s Office and employees of Winn Dixie drove up and down the streets handing out water to the bystanders as they waited through the mid-afternoon heat to catch a glimpse of the procession. Michael Rollo, owner of Rollo Security on West Fifth Street, offered his parking lot for overflow parking for funeral attendees and asked his off-duty guards to line the street for the procession.

“We work hand in hand with the Sheriff’s Office on many occasions,” Rollo said. “The men who died and who were wounded trying to protect the community are the real heroes. They are the ones who should be looked up to.”

Triche leaves behind a wife and two-year-old son. He had been with the Sheriff’s Office for four years, where he worked in the K-9 division with his four-legged partner Jango.

Services for Nielsen are as follows:

Visitation began Tuesday evening and continues today from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. at Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home and Cemeteries in Metairie. A funeral service will follow at 11 a.m.

Following the Mass there will be a salute at the Officers Memorial. Burial at Lake Lawn Park Cemetery will follow the salute.