Two sheriff's deputies died and two others were wounded Thursday in a shootout near New Orleans, and so far five suspects have been arrested.

The two deputies were "ambushed" by an armed man with an assault rifle as they were walking across a parking lot in an industrial part of the town of Laplace to investigate an earlier shooting, the sheriff of St. John the Baptist Parish, Michael Tregre, said.

One of wounded deputies was badly hurt, but authorities say they are not in mortal danger.

Two of the arrested people have bullet wounds, according to a spokesperson for state police.

The slain deputies were identified as Brandon Nielsen, a 34-year-old married father of five, and Jeremy Triche, 28, who leaves behind a wife and one child.

The first incident occurred at 5:30 a.m., when a gunman fired at an off-duty deputy working a traffic detail. Although shot several times, the deputy managed to inform his colleagues what had happened.

When they arrived at the scene of the shooting, the two deputies who were killed were fired upon by an attacker with an assault rifle while they were questioning witnesses. EFE