Three US policemen shot dead in 'ambush by masked gunman'
Published 18/07/2016 | 02:30
Three policemen were shot dead and at least three others wounded when they were ambushed by a "masked gunman" in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Police said the suspect, Gavin Long of Kansas City, Missouri, was shot and killed at the scene. Authorities initially believed that two other assailants might be at large, but hours later said there were no other shooters in the city.
Authorities said the dead gunman was the only person who fired at the officers, but they were unsure whether he had some kind of help from others.
The brazen attack took place less than 1km from the town's police headquarters.
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.
The attack comes just 10 days after five policemen were killed in Dallas and amid spiralling tensions between police officers and members of the black community, in Baton Rouge and nationwide. It was the fourth high-profile deadly encounter in the US involving police over the past two weeks.
In the latest attack, two city police officers, a 32-year-old with 10 years of service and a 41-year-old with just under a year on the force, died, said Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr.
Also among the dead was an East Baron Rouge Parish sheriff's deputy, who was 45, said Sheriff Sid Gautreaux.
Authorities did not immediately release the names of the dead and wounded, but relatives and a man who said he was a former partner of one of the slain officers posted on Facebook and Twitter that he was Baton Rouge police officer Montrell Jackson.
Baton Rouge has been gripped by arrests, stand-offs and mass protests after Alton Sterling (37), a black man, was shot by a white police officer in a killing captured on camera.
Governor John Bel Edwards called yesterday's attack "an unspeakable and unjustified attack on all of us at a time when we need unity and healing". Mr Sterling's nephew condemned the killing of the three officers. Terrance Carter said the family just wants peace.
"My uncle wouldn't want this," Mr Carter said. "He wasn't this type of man."
President Barack Obama condemned the shooting as "cowardly". "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 in a statement.
"These are attacks on public servants, on the rule of law and on civilised society, and they have to stop."
Mr Obama spent most of last week focused on trying to build trust between police and communities.
But Donald Trump, the likely Republican presidential nominee, said the attack was a sign America needed greater leadership and more "law and order".
"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?" Mr Trump wrote on Facebook. "We demand law and order."
In Baton Rouge, police officers responded to reports there was a man walking down a highway carrying an assault rifle when they were attacked, police said.
Michelle Rogers, a resident of Baton Rouge, said she was at a church service praying for Mr Sterling's family when the priest interrupted to say that "something was happening".
"But he didn't say what. Then we started getting texts about officers down," she said.
Don Coppola, a police sergeant, said officers were taken to a local hospital which was then placed on lockdown. Multiple police units were stationed at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, where the wounded officers were undergoing treatment.
A hospital spokesman said they had received five wounded "law enforcement professionals". Of the two who survived, one was in critical condition.
The attack happened in the Old Hammond area, on a multi-lane road lined with fast food restaurants and motels.
Casey Rayborn Hicks, a spokesman for the sheriff's department in Baton Rouge, confirmed shooter Gavin Long was killed in the aftermath of the attack. He was described as "wearing a mask" during the shootings. (© Daily Telegraph, London)