Three Officers Dead in Baton Rouge Shooting

Mike Kunzelman/AP Photo
Authorities talk to the driver of a car near an area where several officers were shot while on duty less than a mile from police headquarters on July 17 in Baton Rouge, La.

Three other officers were wounded Sunday morning in a shooting near a gas station in Baton Rouge, La., less than two weeks after a black man was shot and killed by police, sparking nightly protests across the city.

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Three officers are confirmed dead and three others wounded after a shooting in Baton Rouge, a sheriff's office spokeswoman said Sunday. One suspect is dead and law enforcement officials believe two others are still at large, the spokeswoman said.

The Los Angeles Times identified the shooter as Gavin Eugene Long. Citing unnamed U.S. law enforcement officials, the Times described Long as a 29-year-old "black separatist" from Kansas City, Mo., whose birthday was the day of the shooting.

The shooting — which happened just before 9 a.m., less than 1 mile from police headquarters — comes amid spiraling 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.

The attacks on public servants and the rule of law "have to stop," President Barack Obama said Sunday after another shooting spree targeting police killed three officers in Baton Rouge and wounded three others.

Obama said the motive for Sunday's attack, the second targeting police in less than two weeks, was unknown, but there is no justification for violence against law enforcement.

"These attacks are the work of cowards who speak for no one," the president said in a statement released by the White House. "They right no wrongs. They advance no causes."

Obama called Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden to hear the latest on the investigation into the shootings and pledge federal support. He also is expected to address the nation from the White House later Sunday afternoon.

Casey Rayborn Hicks, a spokeswoman for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, said in a statement that the public should call 911 immediately if they see anything suspicious.

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.

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.

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 shot 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 police shooting death of another black man in Minnesota, whose girlfriend live-streamed the aftermath of his death on Facebook. Then on 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.

Over the 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 over the weekend.

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."

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