LAFAYETTE — A Lafayette police officer was shot and killed Sunday night when a gunman opened fire on him and civilians at a convenience store on Moss Street, according to authorities.

Cpl. Michael Paul Middlebrook, a nine-year veteran with the Lafayette Police Department, died Sunday night after 28-year-old Ian Paul Howard shot him, said Lafayette police spokesman Cpl. Karl Ratcliff and State Police spokesman Master Trooper Brooks David.

Two other people were injured in the shooting but are both expected to survive, David said.

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Howard, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette graduate, was taken into custody late Sunday and booked Monday morning into Lafayette Parish Correctional Center on counts of first-degree murder of a police officer, attempted murder of a police officer and two counts of attempted murder, David said. Howard, who a family member said suffered from mental illness, is being held without bail.

Police were dispatched to the Big Boy Discount Zone around 10:30 p.m. Sunday about an aggravated assault with a gun, but the call was quickly upgraded to a shooting before officers arrived, David said.

When police arrived, Howard and police exchanged gunfire, David said, with at least one bullet striking and killing Middlebrook.

Howard then ran from the scene, but was soon apprehended by Lafayette Police, David said.

Lafayette Police asked State Police to conduct the investigation into the shooting, which remains ongoing.

Avery Cross said he went to the convenience store at 3601 Moss St. to buy a drink Sunday night, just minutes before the Lafayette police officers arrived. The front doors to the shop were locked, which was uncharacteristic for the 24-hour store, he said Monday, but soon an employee came out front to say there had been a shooting, pointing out fresh bullet holes in the storefront's window.

Cross, 29, said two officers showed up soon after, and one went inside the store. 

"When he walked in, the guy popped out and started shooting," Cross said.

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Cross said he heard at least five shots from inside the store. He said the shooter then came outside and fired into the air.

"He started screaming, like, 'Everybody get back!'" Cross said. "I just started running. … When it was happening, the only thought was just to make it home."

He said the shooter also started running while continuing to fire his weapon, but Cross said he couldn't tell where the bullets were headed.

"I was not looking back," Cross said.

Living in north Lafayette, Cross said, he has been near other shootings before, but he expected the violence to end once police officers arrived.

"When you see a cop, you think everything will settle down," Cross said. "It didn't happen like that."

Lisa Zerbe lives on Moss Street, across from the convenience store, and said she heard at least 40 shots throughout the span of the shooting. She called 911.

"When I heard that many (shots) and I heard people crying, I was like, 'I'm dialing right now,'" Zerbe, 48, said. She was on the line with the dispatcher as shots rang out, squatting to stay below the windows. "I mean, it is ridiculous."

Two bullet holes were visible Monday afternoon on storefront window panes adjacent to areas behind a display case and cash register. The glass display case was shattered, and merchandise was scattered nearby. A collection of small liquor bottles lay on the floor behind the register.

Middlebrook died serving where he had spent his career with the Lafayette Police Department, in their patrol division, "helping and truly serving the community, as was his passion," Ratcliff wrote in a news release.

In March, Middlebrook was honored with the state's Heart of Law Enforcement Award for collecting food that would otherwise go to waste and distributing it to those in need.

"The Lafayette Police Department is devastated by this sudden loss," Ratcliff wrote. "We ask that you keep Corporal Middlebrook’s family and the Lafayette Police Department in your thoughts and prayers."

Middlebrook leaves behind a wife, a 3-year-old daughter, two stepdaughters, and his parents, police said in the release.

Hayden Middlebrook, Cpl. Michael Middlebrook's cousin, said they grew up together.

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"He always talked about being a cop, wanting to be a cop, wanting to be a Louisiana State Trooper. … It was something he had a passion for," Hayden Middlebook said of his cousin.

Hayden Middlebrook said the last time he saw his cousin, about three years ago when he visited Lafayette from the Baton Rouge area, he saw how much the officer loved his job.

"He stated that he worked strictly nights, he worked in a very bad area of Lafayette, and he said he liked it," Hayden Middlebrook said. "He loved what he was doing."

Cpl. Middlebrook loved to hunt and fish, had served in the Army and, at one point, was studying to became a pastor, said Hayden Middlebrook.

"He was always just there to help other people," Hayden Middlebrook, 42, said. "I remember him just always liking a good laugh; he loved to laugh."

Howard's father said his family is in shock, but wanted to offer his condolences to the Middlebrook family.

"My deepest sympathies to Cpl. Middlebrook's family and the whole police department," said Edwin Howard, Ian Howard's father.

He said his son had struggled with mental illness and they had little contact with him of late. He declined to comment on whether his son had owned guns.

"My son was obviously very ill," Edwin Howard said.

Classmates of Howard said he went to Lafayette High School, where he was a part of the band.

The alleged gunman graduated from University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2015 with a bachelor of arts degree in English, after transferring in with credits from South Louisiana Community College and LSU, said University of Louisiana at Lafayette spokesman Aaron Martin.

Advocate staff writer Ben Myers contributed to this report. 

Follow Grace Toohey on Twitter, @grace_2e.