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SJSO pays tribute to fallen officers

LAPLACE — During an annual memorial ceremony held May 12, a candle was lit for each of the eight members of the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office who lost their lives in the line of duty. Family members were on hand to light the candles and collect flowers honoring their loved ones.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls as National Police Week. This was the first year the Fallen Officers Memorial Ceremony was held at the Lloyd B. Johnson Law Enforcement Training Center in LaPlace. After the ceremony, officers and family members of the fallen finest joined Sheriff Mike Tregre for a balloon release.

“In the words of Edmond Burke, ‘evil prevails when good men do nothing,’” Tregre said. “So we come together for yet another year to respect, honor, remember those who have paid the ultimate price serving St. John Parish.”

Public relations director Angel Thompson said the St. John Sheriff’s Office pledges to never forget Constable Ignace Rousselle, Deputy Harry Troxlair Sr., Det. Sherman Walker, Deputy Barton Granier, Officer Edmond Songy Jr., Captain Octavio Gonzalez, Deputy Brandon Nielsen and Deputy Jeremy Triche.

Tregre held back tears behind the podium as he said, “There are no fancy words or rhymes or quotes that can speak more of what our brothers have done for us.”

Tregre added that he is doing all he can to ensure deputies have all the training and resources needed to do their jobs successfully. A fallen officers memorial is being planned for the Lloyd B. Johnson Training Center, and he hopes it will be a place where family, friends and supporters of law enforcement can reflect on the ultimate sacrifice St. John Parish officers have made.

“Every day, we as citizens ask a great deal of the men and women in law enforcement,” Tregre said. “Every day, they choose to pin on a badge and go to work, not knowing what the day will bring, and praying that they come home safely at the end of the shift. Last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc all over the country, our deputies still came to work, putting themselves at risk against an invisible killer to do the job that few want to do and even fewer are able to do.”

The following fallen officers were honored during the ceremony:

  • Constable Ignace Rousselle; End of watch Oct. 20, 1936; Rousselle was gunned down with a shotgun at age 63 when he went to a home to question a man about stolen farm equipment. He was survived by his wife and seven children.
  • Deputy Sheriff Harry Anthony Troxlair Sr.; End of watch August 1, 1969; Troxlair was killed at the age of 46 when his patrol car was struck by an Illinois Central Railroad train as he responded to a domestic disturbance. He was survived by his wife and three children.
  • Detective Lieutenant Sherman Ray Walker; End of watch Nov. 6, 1984; Walker was shot and killed at age 32 in an ambush in front of his home as he entered his unmarked patrol car. He was survived by a wife and three children.
  • Deputy Sheriff Barton Joseph Granier; End of watch January 27, 1996; Granier was shot and killed by a robbery suspect during a 2 a.m. struggle. He was 37 years old and was survived by a wife and two children.
  • Code Enforcement Officer Edmond J. Songy Jr.; End of watch July 9, 2002; At 60 years old, Songy was struck and killed by a drunk driver while directing traffic at an accident scene on I-10 near Exit 206. He is survived by his wife.
  • Captain Octavio Rafael Gonzalez; End of watch June 16, 2006; Gonzalez was shot and killed at age 40 while participating in a manhunt for two suspects who had shot and wounded another deputy minutes earlier. He is survived by a wife and two sons.
  • Deputy Sheriff Brandon Joseph Nielsen and Deputy Sheriff Jeremy Michael Triche; End of watch August 16, 2012; Triche and Nielsen were shot and killed by members of a domestic terrorist group known as the Sovereign Citizens while investigating an earlier ambush shooting that wounded a sheriff’s office investigator. The shooter, Kyle Joekel, was sentenced to death on Feb. 9, 2020. Triche was 27, and he had a wife and a 2-year-old son. Nielsen, 34, had a wife and five children.