(CN) – Three police officers were killed and Three others wounded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana Sunday morning while on duty less than a mile from police headquarters.
Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said one suspect is dead and law enforcement officials believe two others are still at large.
The shooting was the fourth high-profile deadly encounter in the United States — and second in Baton Rouge — involving police over the past two weeks. The violence has left 12 people dead, including eight police officers, and sparked a national conversation over race and policing.
On Sunday afternoon President Barack Obama spoke out on the shooting, saying “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,” the president said. “These are attacks on public servants, on the rule of law, and on civilized society, and they have to stop.”
The president went on to say that he’d offered his full support, and the full support of the federal government, to the state of Louisiana, the city of Baton Rouge and its sheriff’s office and police department.
“Make no mistake — justice will be done,” he said. “We may not yet know the motives for this attack, but I want to be clear: there is no justification for violence against law enforcement. None. 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.”
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said agents from the FBI and ATF are on the scene, and the Department of Justice will make available victim services and federal funding support, and will provide investigative assistance to the fullest extent possible.
“For the second time in two weeks, multiple law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty,” Lynch said. “There is no place in the United States for such appalling violence, and I condemn these acts in the strongest possible terms.”
In a statement distributed via Twitter, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said “This is an unspeakable and unjutified attack on all of us at a time when we need unity and healing.
“Rest assured, every resource available to the State of Louisiana will be used to ensure the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice. For now, I’m asking all Louisianians to join … in praying for the officers who were involved and their families as the details continue to unfold,” the governor said.
The shooting occurred just before 9 a.m. local time, virtually around the corner from police headquarters on Airline Highway.
A witness told local television station WBRZ that a man dressed in black with his face covered was shooting indiscriminently as he walked between a convenience store and a car wash.
Police armed with rifles set up a road block around the crime scene and were stopping motorists in the area, checking trucks and vehicle interiors before allowing them to drive on. A SWAT team is also in the area.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, about 20 officers were on the scene in bulletproof vests and a police helicopter was flying overhead.
Multiple police units were stationed at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, where stricken officers were believed to be undergoing treatment at a trauma center. A police officer with a long gun was blocking the parking lot at the emergency room.
Officers and deputies from the Baton Rouge Police Department and East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office were involved, according to Hicks.
Tensions have been high between the Baton Rouge police and the local community since the killing of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black man, by white police officers early on the morning of July 5.
The killing, which followed a scuffle outside a convenience store, 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, July 7, a black gunman in Dallas opened fire on police at a protest about the police shootings, killing five officers.
Over the next 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 during those protests and came under criticism for what some saw as a use of excessive force against the protestors.
The tragedy in Baton Rouge wasn’t Sunday’s only officer-involved shooting.
A domestic violence suspect opened fire on a Milwaukee police officer who was sitting in his squad car early Sunday, seriously wounding him before fleeing and apparently killing himself shortly afterward, authorities said.
The suspect, a 20-year-old man from the suburb of West Allis, had two felonies on his arrest record, said police spokesman Sgt. Tim Gauerke, who did not disclose the man’s name. The 31-year-old officer was taken to a hospital with serious wounds that weren’t considered life-threatening, he said.
“This is just another example of the risks our officers take each and every day to protect these citizens,” Assistant Milwaukee Police Chief William Jessup said at a morning news conference.
– Developing story.
Photo caption:Baton Rouge police officers man a roadblock at Old Hammond Highway and Tara Boulevard after multiple officers were shot, Sunday, July 17, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Mike Kunzelman)MAp courtesy the AP.
- After VP Pick Misfire, Trump-Pence Gets Official
- French Authorities Arrest Two in Nice Truck Attack