Three Ba­ton Rouge of­fi­cers killed; sus­pect dead

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - MIKE KUNZELMAN

BA­TON ROUGE, LA. — Three Ba­ton Rouge law en­force­ment of­fi­cers in­ves­ti­gat­ing a re­port of a man with an as­sault ri­fle were killed Sun­day, less than two weeks af­ter a black man was shot and killed by po­lice here in a con­fronta­tion that sparked nightly protests that re­ver­ber­ated na­tion­wide.

Three other of­fi­cers were wounded, one crit­i­cally. Po­lice said the sus­pect was killed at the scene.

Author­i­ties said the dead shooter was the only person who fired at the of­fi­cers, but they were un­sure whether he had some kind of help from oth­ers, ac­cord­ing to a state po­lice spokesper­son.

The shooter was iden­ti­fied as Gavin Long of Kansas City, who turned 29 on Sun­day. Long, who was black, served in the Marines from 2005 to 2010, reach­ing the rank of sergeant. He de­ployed to Iraq from 2008 to 2009.

The shoot­ing — which took place just be­fore 9 a.m., less than a kilo­me­tre from po­lice head­quar­ters — came amid es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions across the coun­try be­tween the black com­mu­nity and po­lice. The races of the of­fi­cers were not im­me­di­ately known.

It was the fourth high-pro­file deadly en­counter in the United States in­volv­ing po­lice over the

past two weeks. The vi­o­lence has left 12 peo­ple dead, in­clud­ing eight po­lice of­fi­cers, and sparked a na­tional de­bate over race and polic­ing.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama urged Amer­i­cans to tamp down in­flam­ma­tory words and ac­tions.

“We as a na­tion have to be loud and clear that noth­ing jus­ti­fies at­tacks on law en­force­ment,” Obama said from the White House. “Every one right now should fo­cus on words and ac­tions that can unite this coun­try rather than di­vide it fur­ther.”

Author­i­ties ini­tially be­lieved that other as­sailants might be at large, but hours later said that no other ac­tive shoot­ers were on the loose. They did not dis­cuss the shooter’s mo­tive or any re­la­tion­ship to the wider po­lice con­flicts.

The shoot­ing be­gan at a gas sta­tion on Air­line High­way. The sus­pect’s body was next door, out­side a fit­ness cen­tre. Po­lice said they were us­ing a spe­cial­ized ro­bot to check for ex­plo­sives near the body.

Ac­cord­ing to ra­dio traf­fic, Ba­ton Rouge po­lice an­swered a re­port of a man with an as­sault ri­fle and were met by gun­fire. For sev­eral min­utes, they did not know where it was com­ing from.

The ra­dio ex­changes were made pub­lic Sun­day by the web­site Broad­cas­tify.

Nearly 2 ½ min­utes af­ter the first re­port of an of­fi­cer get­ting shot, an of­fi­cer on the scene is heard say­ing po­lice do not know the shooter’s lo­ca­tion.

Nearly six min­utes pass af­ter the first shots are re­ported be­fore po­lice say they have de­ter­mined the shooter’s lo­ca­tion. About 30 sec­onds later, some­one says shots are still be­ing fired.

The record­ing lasts about 17 min­utes and in­cludes ur­gent calls for an ar­moured per­son­nel car­rier called a Bearcat.

A law en­force­ment of­fi­cial fa­mil­iar with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion said the shooter was iden­ti­fied as Gavin Long, but had no de­tails. The of­fi­cial spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the of­fi­cial was not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Gov. John Bel Ed­wards rushed to the hos­pi­tal where the shot of­fi­cers were taken.

“There sim­ply is no place for more vi­o­lence,” Ed­wards said. “That doesn’t help any­one. It doesn’t fur­ther the con­ver­sa­tion. It doesn’t ad­dress any in­jus­tice per­ceived or real. It is just an in­jus­tice in and of it­self.”

A wit­ness told tele­vi­sion sta­tion WAFB that he saw a masked man in black shorts and shirt run­ning from the scene where the three of­fi­cers were killed.

Brady Van­cel said the man looked like a pedes­trian run­ning with a ri­fle in his hand, rather than some­one trained to move with a ri­fle.

Van­cel said he had gone to work on a floor­ing job near the gas sta­tion when he heard semi-au­to­matic gun­fire and, per­haps, a hand­gun. He saw a man in a red shirt ly­ing in an empty park­ing lot and “an­other gun­man run­ning away as more shots were be­ing fired back and forth from sev­eral guns.”

On Sun­day af­ter­noon, more than a dozen po­lice cars with lights flash­ing were massed near a com­mer­cial area of car deal­er­ships and chain restau­rants on the high­way. Po­lice armed with long guns stopped at least two ve­hi­cles leav­ing the scene and checked their trunks.

That area was about a half a kilo­me­tre from a gas sta­tion, where al­most nightly protests had been tak­ing place.

Each of the of­fi­cers was mar­ried and had a fam­ily, East Ba­ton Rouge Par­ish Sher­iff Sid Gautreaux said.

GER­ALD HERBERT, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Po­lice guard the emer­gency room en­trance of Our Lady Of The Lake Med­i­cal Cen­ter, where wounded of­fi­cers were brought in Ba­ton Rouge.

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