Three law enforcement officers were killed and three others injured in a shooting incident in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when a suspect fired on officers outside a convenience store.
This comes less than two weeks after a gunman opened fire on police at a protest in Dallas, killing five officers.
The suspect was killed at the scene, and police have not formally announced a name of the deceased suspect – but a law enforcement official told NPR's Carrie Johnson that the suspect is named Gavin Eugene Long.
The comes after two tense weeks in Baton Rouge, though it's unclear what the suspect's motive was. Earlier this month, a man named Alton Sterling was shot dead by police officers in Baton Rouge, and video of the shooting led to days of protests in the city.
WWNO's Tegan Wendland told our Newscast unit that the officers were shot today near police headquarters. "It's the same area where several protests over the past week were met with heavy police response, and hundreds were arrested."
"We're going to get through this, and we're going to get through this together," Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie told reporters, visibly emotional. "This is not going to tarnish this city or this department. We're going to move forward."
At a televised press conference, Louisiana officials said six law enforcement officers were hit. Of those killed, two were Baton Rouge city police officers and one was a Sheriff's deputy. The names of the victims have not yet been released, but we do know their ages and their departments.
Dabadie told reporters about the two officers from the Baton Rouge Police Department killed in the line of duty: "One is 41 years old and has just under a year of service. The other is 32 years old, with 10 years of service." A 41-year-old officer sustained non-life threatening injuries, and he has 9 years of service.
The Sheriff's deputy who was killed was 45 years old, as East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux told reporters. "One's in critical condition fighting for his life as we speak, a 41-year-old, and one had non-life threatening injuries. He's in surgery now." Gautreaux added that he's 51 years old.
"Each one of these individuals is married, each one of these individuals has a family," Gautreaux said.
Col. Michael Edmonson, the Superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, provided this timeline of how the attack unfolded:
- Approximately 8:40 a.m.: "Baton Rouge P.D. officers at the convenience store observed the individual. He was wearing all black and standing behind a beauty supply store holding a rifle."
- Approximately 8:42 a.m.: "Reports received of shots fired."
- Approximately 8:44 a.m.: "Reports received of officers down on the scene."
- 8:45 a.m.: "Reports received of more shots being fired."
- 8:46 a.m.: "Reports received of the suspect, again wearing all black, standing near a car wash located right next to the convenience store."
- 8:48 a.m.: "Our [Emergency Medical Services] units started arriving at the scene, they were staging. They started approaching and getting the bodies that were at the scene to render first aid. Officers engaged the subject at that particular time, and he ultimately died at the scene. That was officers responding to the scene itself. State police and multiple agencies responded to the scene and attempted to secure the area, and identify possible potential suspects and further threats in the area."
The Suspected Shooter
We have only fragments of information about the suspected shooter, identified to NPR's Carrie Johnson as Gavin Eugene Long.
No further information about Long was immediately available, including any information about the motive of the attack.
It's not clear whether the suspect acted alone. Early in the day, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's office had said that they believed there were two suspects still at large.
At the afternoon press conference, Edmonson said repeatedly that there is no current active shooter situation in Baton Rouge. "We do believe, based on the situation that we have – and again, this is ongoing — we believe that the person who shot and killed our officers, that he is the person that was shot and killed at the scene."
He added: "We do not believe that we have any other shooter held up any area in the Baton Rouge area, but understand this investigation has a lot of moving parts."
Mourning The Victims
"We're grieving as a law enforcement community," Gautreaux said. "We're grieving for each other, we're grieving for our loss, and we're grieving for our families. And we ask for your prayers."
Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden spoke with WAFB in a phone interview: "If this is not a defining moment for us to bridge the divide and come out with a unified voice, then I don't know what is."
In a statement, President Obama said today's killings in Baton Rouge and the earlier attack in Dallas "are attacks on public servants, on the rule of law, and on civilized society, and they have to stop." He added:
"These attacks are the work of cowards who speak for no one. They right no wrongs. They advance no causes. The officers in Baton Rouge; the officers in Dallas – they were our fellow Americans, part of our community, part of our country, with people who loved and needed them, and who need us now – all of us – to be at our best."
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards described the incident as an "unspeakable and unjustified attack on all of us at a time when we need unity and healing." He vowed to deploy "every resource available" to "ensure the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice."
Likewise, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement that the Department of Justice will provide "victim services and federal funding support."
In May, Louisiana passed legislation that classified attacks on police officers as a hate crime. This will result in stricter penalties for offenders. The so-called "blue lives law" takes effect on August 1st, so it would not apply in this case.
We'll update this story as we learn more.
This is a developing story. Some things that get reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.