Three Baton Rouge law enforcement officials have been fatally shot in gunfire that erupted near the Hammond Air Plaza on Sunday morning, a mile away from the police headquarters in Louisiana’s capital city, according to officials..
A suspect, who was identified as Gavin Long by The Washington Post, was shot down by the police, but officials suspect there could have been more attackers.
Speaking to CNN, Kip Holden, the mayor-president of East Baton Rouge Parish, confirmed that three officers had been killed in the attack. Two of the officers who were killed were with the Baton Rouge police force, while the third was part of the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.
Sgt. Don Coppola with the Baton Rouge Police Department said that the wounded policemen had been taken to the hospital.
The words of BR Police officer killed today. Please listen to him. pic.twitter.com/j2JqA16RoX— Christee Atwood (@ChristeeAtwood) July 17, 2016
It is still unclear how the gun battle began, but according to The Telegraph, a man was reported to be walking down the side of a road with an assault rifle. Witnesses reported him to police, and when the officers arrived on the scene, the gunman started shooting at them.
Speaking to WBRZ-TV, another witness said that a man, dressed in black with his face covered, began shooting indiscriminately when he walked out between a convenience store and car wash across from Hammond Air Plaza.
Holden told MSNBC News that the officers may have been ambushed.
“The initial call was shots fired. Whenever an officer hears those words, those two words, the response is immediate, everybody in that area goes to that scene. I’m not sure whether it is related to [protests] but I can tell you the rhetoric that’s been spewed … I have to believe that some of that is related to that.
Basically it was like an ambush style deal. We responded to a call and there’s this jerk that’s out there firing on our police officers. This is in an area that’s a mile from police headquarters.”
East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux III advised locals to stay away from the sight of the shooting, reports USA Today.
“We are advising the public to please take an alternate route and steer clear of the area.”
A spokesman for the Baton Rouge Police Department said that officers have secured the area around the suspect and sent a robot device in after the shooting, and are committed to “making sure there aren’t any explosives in the area.”
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said that the senseless acts of violence had to stop at any cost.
“The violence, the hatred, just has to stop. We have to do better. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, and the people who carried out this act, the individuals, they do not represent the people of Baton Rouge, or the state of Louisiana.”
President Obama condemned the attacks on law enforcement officials for the second time within a week.
“I condemn, in the strongest sense of the word, the attack on law enforcement in Baton Rouge For the second time in two weeks, police officers who put their lives on the line for ours every day were doing their job when they were killed in a cowardly and reprehensible assault. These are attacks on public servants, on the rule of law, and on civilized society, and they have to stop.”
According to the New York Daily News, Hammond Air Plaza is about five miles away from the Triple S Food Mart, where police shot and killed Alton Sterling on July 5. Videos of the fatal shooting of the 37-year-old black man by two white Baton Rouge police officers were circulated widely on social media in the aftermath of the tragedy, sparking countrywide protests by activists and citizens against the perceived institutionalized racism that exists within the ranks of law enforcement agencies in the United States.
Baton Rouge has been epicenter of the protests over the last few days.
A lone gunman named Micah Johnson, who was later described as mentally unstable, shot several officers during protests in Dallas a few days after Alton Sterling’s death, killing five police officers and injuring nine others in an act that was later described as an act of “retribution” against the police.
President Barack Obama, as well as relatives of the deceased, called for calm in the wake of the tragic events, saying that more hatred between communities was not going to resolve the problems, but only accentuate it.
[Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images]