Police in Louisiana say they are using a specialized robot to check for explosives near the body of a suspect who was shot and killed in Baton Rouge early Sunday.
The suspect is believed to have been involved in the shooting of law enforcement officers in the Louisiana city early Sunday. Three officers are dead and three were wounded. The shooting occurred less than two kilometres from police headquarters.
Baton Rouge Police Cpl. L’Jean Mckneely Jr. says the shooting took place outside a gas station and possibly inside the B-Quik convenience store nearby.
He also said the suspect’s body was found nearby, outside of a fitness centre.
Mckneely Jr. said authorities do not have an immediate indication that explosives are present at the scene.
Two other suspects are believed to be at large, according to Casey Rayborn Hicks, a spokeswoman for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office. The public should call 911 immediately if they see anything suspicious, her statement said.
The shooting comes amid spiralling tensions across the city — and the country — between the black community and police. The races of the suspect or suspects and the officers were not immediately known.
Baton Rouge Police Sgt. Don Coppola told The Associated Press earlier that the officers were rushed to a local hospital. Coppola said authorities are asking people to stay away from the area.
Officers getting treatment
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 centre. A police officer with a long gun was blocking the parking lot at the emergency room.
Spokeswoman Ashley Mendoza said the hospital received five patients from the police shooting, all “law enforcement professionals.” Of the two who survived the shooting, one is in critical condition and the other is in fair condition.
Officers and deputies from the Baton Rouge Police Department and East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office were involved, according to Hicks.
An Associated Press reporter on the scene saw police vehicles with lights flashing massed about a half mile from the police headquarters on Airline Highway. Police armed with long guns on the road stopped at least two vehicles driving away from the scene and checked their trunks and vehicles before allowing them to drive away.
Police-community relations in Baton Rouge have been especially tense since the killing of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black man killed by white officers earlier this month after a scuffle at a convenience store. The killing 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 the following Thursday, a black gunman in Dallas opened fire on police at a protest about the police shootings, killing five officers and heightening tensions even further.
Prayers for officers, Alton Sterling
Michelle Rogers, 56, said the pastor at her church had led prayers Sunday for Sterling’s family and police officers, asking members of the congregation to stand up if they knew an officer.
Rogers said an officer in the congregation hastily left the church near the end of the service, and a pastor announced that “something had happened.”
“But he didn’t say what. Then we started getting texts about officers down,” she said.
Rogers and her husband drove near the scene, but were blocked at an intersection closed down by police.
“I can’t explain what brought us here,” she said. “We just said a prayer in the car for the families.”
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued a statement calling the attack “unspeakable and unjustified.”
“Rest assured, every resource available to the State of Louisiana will be used to ensure the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice,” Edwards said.
He also rushed to the hospital where the injured officers were taken.
In a statement Sunday, President Barack Obama condemned the shooting “in the strongest sense of the word,” and said there is no justification for violence against against law enforcement.
“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,” he said.
“These are attacks on public servants, on the rule of law, and on civilized society, and they have to stop.”
Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump also condemned the shootings and placed the blame on ineffectual leadership.
“We grieve for the officers killed in Baton Rouge today. How many law enforcement and people have to die because of a lack of leadership in our country? We demand law and order,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
The Associated Press via CBC News | Photo: thesun.co.uk
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