Update, 7:57 p.m.: Details are emerging about how the shooting took place. Although Baton Rouge mayor Kip Holden initially described the encounter as an “ambush,” at a press conference, Louisiana State Police Col. Michael Edmonson only said that the police had responded to a call about “a guy carrying a weapon” near the site of the shootout. According to the New York Times, Mayor Holden further added that, “Based upon that, it would not seem that [police officers] were targeted […] They responded to a call that said there’s this guy walking along the street in these dark clothes, carrying a rifle.”
Here are more details from the Times about the encounter:
Colonel Edmonson said that a call came in to police dispatch early Sunday reporting “a guy carrying a weapon” near the Hammond Aire Plaza shopping center on Airline Highway.
Around 8:40 a.m., law enforcement officers observed the man, wearing all black and holding a rifle, outside a beauty supply store, he said. Within the next four minutes, there were reports of shots fired and officers struck, said Colonel Edmonson, whose agency will take the lead on the investigation assisted by local and federal investigators.
Mark Clements, who lives near the shopping center, said he was in his backyard when he heard shots ring out. “I heard probably 10 to 12 gunshots go off,” he said in a telephone interview. “We heard a bunch of sirens and choppers and everything since then.”
Avery Hall, 17, a worker at a nearby carwash, said he was on his way to work when the gunfire erupted. “I was about to pull in at about 8:45 and we got caught in the crossfire,” he said. “I heard a lot of gunshots — a lot. I saw police ducking and shooting. I stopped and pulled into the Dodge dealership. I got out and heard more gunshots. We ducked.”
On the Police Department’s dispatch radio, a voice could be heard shouting: “Shots fired! Officer down! Shots fired. Officer down! Got a city officer down.”
At 8:48 a.m., officers fired at the suspect, killing him, Colonel Edmonson said.
The Times also reported Sunday that deceased suspect Gavin Long was a Marine from 2005 to 2010, attaining the rank of sergeant and serving in Iraq from June 2008 to January 2009.
Update, 5:49 p.m.: A second slain officer has been identified as former Marine and Black Hawk Crew Chief Mattew Gerald. Gerald graduated from the Batron Rouge Police Department Academy in March.
Update, 5:41 p.m.: Long seems to have been associated with an antigovernment group known as the New Freedom Group. Anton Sterling’s aunt released a video statement imploring people to stop killing, saying that she knows what it is to receive a call that a family member is never coming home. Relatedly, one of the slain officers has been identified as Montrell Jackson, father of a baby boy.
Update, 4:15 p.m.: At a press conference, the Sheriff’s Office says they now believe the dead suspect was the only gunman.
Update, 3:02 p.m.: President Barack Obama has issued a statement condemning the attack on law enforcement in Baton Rouge. The Baton Rouge police department, meanwhile, says that the shooting does not appear to be “race-related.”
Update, 12:33 p.m.: The sheriff’s office says two other suspects are still at large.
Update, 12:12 p.m.: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a statement on Twitter.
Update, 11:58 a.m.: Two police officers have been confirmed dead by William Daniel, the city-parish’s chief administrative officer, according to the Advocate newspaper. Several others have been seriously injured.
Original Post, 11:31 a.m.: Three officers are feared dead from a shooting in Baton Rouge.
Kip Holden, the mayor-president of East Baton Rouge Parish, said authorities were still trying to get a handle on the situation, but added, “The count is three officers dead possibly.”
The victims may include police officers and sheriff’s deputies.
“There is still an active scene. They are investigating,” he said. “Right now we are trying to get our arms around everything.”
The shooter is believed to be down as well, Holden said.
The situation has been tense in Baton Rouge since Alton Sterling, 37, was killed by police while selling CDs outside of a convenience store earlier in July. Baton Rouge police are being sued for arresting peaceful protesters. They have also arrested three people they believed to have made credible threats against police officers the week after five police officers were fatally shot in Dallas.
This post will be updated as more information is confirmed.