The manhunt for a fourth suspect in an alleged plot to kill Louisiana police officers continues Wednesday morning. The attempted murders follow the shooting death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge last week.
While officers search for the heavily armed suspect, three arrests have been made in connection with the planned shooting. Antonio Thomas, 17, and Malik Bridgewater, 20, were apprehended on firearms and burglary charges. Accomplice Trashone Coats, 23, was arrested and charged with illegal possession of a stolen firearm.
A 13-year-old boy, whose identity was withheld because he is a juvenile, was arrested when the group robbed a pawn shop of firearms with the intent of carrying out their crime.
In response to the robbery and mass shooting attempt, East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux told CNN,“We can’t take anything for granted any more. What you saw in the (law enforcement) response is because of the very real and viable threats against law enforcement. Look what happened in Dallas. A very peaceful protest and then some crazy madman.”
Gautreaux’s “madman” reference was directed at Dallas gunman Micah Johnson, who last Thursday killed five police officers and wounded seven others during an otherwise peaceful Black Lives Matter protest.
Many feel Johnson’s acts, along with the five individuals in East Baton Rouge, are in direct response to recent high-profile shootings by police. National controversy concerning the police killings of two African-American men last week has roiled non-stop. Both Sterling, 37, of Louisiana and Philando Castile, 32, of Minneapolis, were killed by law enforcement under questionable circumstances.
Their deaths have sparked a myriad of rallies and sentiment –some peaceful, some not — that have dominated the American dialogue for the better part of a week.
Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. said the plot to kill officers was discovered after a Saturday night robbery at a Cash America pawn shop in which eight handguns and a BB rifle were stolen. Officials stated two of the handguns have yet to be recovered.
Dabadie told CNN his officers “have been working around the clock to get the firearms off the streets of Baton Rouge.” Members of the NAACP have called for Dabadie’s resignation following the death of Sterling.
Four of the five suspects were arrested over three-day intervals. First Thomas was brought in early Saturday morning during the attempted robbery. Dabadie stated Thomas had one stolen firearm and one BB gun removed from his person during his apprehension. The police chief also stated the suspect claimed he and his cohorts were looking to shoot police officers with the stolen weapons.
Bridgewater was arrested Sunday at his home. Detectives recovered three stolen handguns from the suspect.
During their investigation, Baton Rouge authorities charged Coats with possessing two illegally purchased handguns.
Finally, the minor was arrested Monday and charged with burglary and firearm theft.
Police have been canvassing the area in search of the fifth suspect, but have had no luck in finding him so far.
Regarding the national uproar last week’s shootings have caused, President Obama responded with these conciliatory statements:
“So much of the tensions between police departments and minority communities that they serve is because we ask the police to do too much and we ask too little of ourselves. As a society, we choose to underinvest in decent schools. We allow poverty to fester so that entire neighborhoods offer no prospect for gainful employment. We refuse to fund drug treatment and mental health programs.”
While appealing for a greater level of understanding and compassion from all parties President Obama had these poignant comments for ABC News:
“Whenever those of us who are concerned by failures of the criminal justice system attack police, you are doing a disservice to the cause.”
Indeed those words ring true during these tumultuous times.
Check back with The Inquisitr for breaking updates concerning the Baton Rouge police murder plot.
[Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images]