- Shooter identified as Gavin Long, 29, police believe he was lone gunman
- 3 officers confirmed dead, 1 in critical condition in hospital
- Police urge anyone with information to call police
Three Baton Rouge police officers were killed Sunday and three others were injured during a shooting while on duty near police headquarters.
A Baton Rouge police spokesperson confirmed shortly after noon Sunday that three officers had been killed in the shooting that started just before 9 a.m., at a B-Quick Convenience Store on Airline Highway — less than 2 kilometres from police headquarters. Three other officers were also injured. CNN reported that at least one of the injured officers was in critical condition at a local Baton Rouge hospital.
Louisiana state police Col. Mike Edmonson said he believes there was a single shooter who has been killed.
There is “no active shooter scenario currently in Baton Rouge,” Edmondson said.
“We believe the person that shot and killed the officers was shot and killed.”
East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden identified the shooter as Gavin Long.
The 29-year-old black man served in the Marines from 2005 to 2010, reaching the rank of sergeant. He deployed to Iraq from June 2008 to January 2009, according to military records.
Long was awarded several medals, including one for good conduct, and received an honourable discharge. His occupational expertise was listed as “data network specialist.”
Kansas City police, some with guns drawn, converged on a house listed as Long’s.
One witness described a gunman who was wearing all black and carrying extra clips of ammunition. The races of the suspect was not immediately known.
A spokesman for the Louisiana state police says they believe the gunman who killed three officers in Baton Rouge was the only shooter but that officials are unsure whether he had accomplices.
Major Doug Cain said Sunday, “we are not ready to say he acted alone.”
Cain says two people had been detained in another town called Addis, which is near Baton Rouge, and called them “persons of interests.”
An Associated Press reporter on the scene saw police vehicles with lights flashing massed about a half mile from the police headquarters on Airline Highway. Police armed with long guns on the road stopped at least two vehicles driving away from the scene and checked their trunks and vehicles before allowing them to drive away.
“We want to get the message out as quickly as possible,” a police spokesperson told reporters. “If anybody in this area saw anything suspicious, please give law enforcement a call…. We’re trying to get as much information as we can right now.
“We’re asking for your assistance, we need your assistance.”
One witness told WAFB News that the shooting started before police arrived.
He said he saw officers fall down and “hide” while he heard between 25-30 gunshots.
“I walked out into the street to see what was going on, there was a man lying in the street.
“I assume he was dead because he wasn’t moving.”
Another witness streamed part of the scene on Facebook.
“This man is shooting at the police. He has a mask on, looking like a ninja … He is military,” she can be heard saying. “I don’t know who this man is.”
A friend of one of the slain officers told a local reporter that he couldn’t “understand” how an incident like the shooting could happen.
Speaking after the attack, Barack Obama called on Americans to pull together, “regardless of race or political party.”
“It’s up to all of us to make sure we are a part of the solution and not part of the problem.”
In a statement, Obama said the motive for Sunday’s attack, the second targeting police in less than two weeks, was unknown, but there is no justification for violence against law enforcement.
“These attacks are the work of cowards who speak for no one. They right no wrongs. They advance no causes.”
A Louisiana state representative identified one of the slain officers as Montrell Jackson, who had a 4-month-old child. Ted James said he knew Jackson and his family personally.
Matthew Gerald and Brad Garafola have also been identified as officers killed in the shooting.
Of the officers who survived the shooting, one was hospitalized in critical condition.
Police-community relations in Baton Rouge have been especially tense since the killing of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black man killed by white officers earlier this month after a scuffle at a convenience store. The killing was captured on cellphone video and circulated widely on the internet.
It was followed a day later by the shooting death of another black man in Minnesota, whose girlfriend livestreamed the aftermath of his death on Facebook. Then on Thursday, a black gunman in Dallas opened fire on police at a protest about the police shootings, killing five officers and heightening tensions even further.
Over the weekend, thousands of people took to the streets in Baton Rouge to condemn Sterling’s death, including hundreds of demonstrators who congregated outside the police station. Authorities arrested about 200 people over the three-day weekend.
Michelle Rogers, 56, said the pastor at her church had led prayers Sunday for Sterling’s family and police officers, asking members of the congregation to stand up if they knew an officer.
Rogers said an officer in the congregation hastily left the church near the end of the service, and a pastor announced that “something had happened.”
“But he didn’t say what. Then we started getting texts about officers down,” she said.
Rogers and her husband drove near the scene, but were blocked at an intersection closed down by police.
“I can’t explain what brought us here,” she said. “We just said a prayer in the car for the families.”