In a grim repeat of last week’s deadly attacks on law enforcement in Dallas, two police officers and a sheriff’s deputy are reported dead following an ambush in Baton Rouge.
Officials have confirmed three law enforcement officers have died and at least three others were injured during an early morning shooting on Airline Highway near Old Hammond Highway in Baton Rouge.
The mayor of Baton Rouge told MSNBC the scene was an ambush.
Speaking from the White House press briefing room, President Obama condemned the slayings of the law enforcement officers. “An attack on police is an attack on all of us,” he said.
Obama said we shouldn’t allow either the Baton Rouge killer or the Dallas killer to make us turn on each other.
“We have our divisions,” said Obama, “and they are not new. … Everyone, regardless of race, or political party, or profession – regardless of what organizations you are a part of – everyone, right now, focus on words and actions that can unite this country rather than divide it further. We don’t need inflammatory rhetoric. We don’t need careless accusations thrown around to score political points or advance an agenda. We need to temper our words and open our hearts. All of us.”
The suspect who was killed has been identified as a black male named Gavin Eugene Long of Kansas City, Missouri, sources tell CBS News. He was born on July 17, 1987 and appears to have attacked police on his 29th birthday.
One man who was detained near Our Lady of the Lake Hospital was released after it was determined he was merely seeking medical attention from a nearby hospital, and the firearm in his vehicle was legal and registered.
According to WAFB, officers with the Baton Rouge Police Department and the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office both responded to reports of 25 to 30 gunshots in the area of the B Quick store on Airline Highway shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday morning. Responding law enforcement officers with both agencies were struck during the gunfire.
“The scene seems to be contained right now,” said Sgt. Don Coppola, Baton Rouge Police Department. “We’re asking everyone to stay out of the area.”
Preliminary reports indicate one suspect is dead and two are at large. The dead suspect is reported to be from Missouri.
Baton Rouge Police spokesman L’Jean Mckneely urged residents to watch for suspicious activity in the wake of the fatal shootings:
Law enforcement is asking the public to stay vigilant and to call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) if anything out of the ordinary is spotted.
Witnesses called 9-1-1 after noticing some suspicious behavior after two men, dressed all in black, emerged from a vehicle, a gray Nissan with Texas license plates, and went into a Port Allen Walmart. The same men then emerged wearing different clothes. Police have detained the men and impounded the vehicle for investigation.
Investigators are working to determine how many shooters were possibly involved.
Police have shut down streets between Baton Rouge police headquarters and Interstate 12, where the officers were shot.
Witnesses reported a man, dressed in black and with his face covered, started shooting indiscriminately between a car wash and a convenience store around 9 a.m. Sunday.
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“I walked out into the street to see what was going on, there was a man lying in the street,” the witness said. “I assume he was dead because he wasn’t moving.”
The witness said the shooting started before police arrived.
“This was not a come at police shooting,” the witness said. “There were men out here shooting at each other before police ever got here.”
A large manhunt is underway.
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Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden asks people to pray for the officers and families.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards released a statement: “This is an unspeakable and unjustified 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 Louisianans to join Donna and me in praying for the officers who were involved and their families as the details continue to unfold.”
There is no word yet whether the situation was a police ambush. Baton Rouge Police Department is reportedly checking the scene for explosives with the use of a robot.
Tensions remain high between member of the Baton Rouge community and law enforcement since Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police July 5. It is unclear whether this incident is connected to the Sterling incident.
Several days ago, WND reported police in Baton Rouge had arrested three, and are searching for a fourth, in an alleged plot to shoot and kill law enforcement officers that was uncovered while investigating the theft of eight guns at a pawn shop over the weekend. It is unknown whether the current situation is related to those arrests.
On July 8, Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, said in an interview, “It’s a war on cops. And the Obama administration is the Neville Chamberlain of this war. … I think their continued appeasement at the federal level with the Department of Justice, their appeasement of violent criminals, their refusal to condemn movements like Black Lives Matter actively calling for the death of police officers, that type of thing, all the while blaming police for the problems of this country has directly led to the climate that has made Dallas possible.”
GOP presidential contender Donald Trump released a tweet about the Baton Rouge shootings:
There is no statement yet from Hillary Clinton.
This story is developing and will be updated as information becomes available.