News North America

Sunday 25 September 2016

Three US policemen shot dead in 'ambush by masked gunman'

Ruth Sherlock

Published 18/07/2016 | 02:30

Police officers block off a road after the killings of their colleagues in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Photo: Joe Penney
Police officers block off a road after the killings of their colleagues in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Photo: Joe Penney
Police officers block off Airline Highway near the scene of a fatal shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge. REUTERS/Joe Penney
Law enforcement vehicles block access to Airline Highway near the scene of a fatal shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
Law enforcement officers gather in front of the B-Quick convenience store where police were shot in Baton Rouge. REUTERS/Joe Penney
Baton Rouge Police run from the emergency room ramp as a man is taken into custody after a gun was found in his vehicle near the entrance of Our Lady Of The Lake Medical Center. Multiple law enforcement officers were killed and wounded Sunday morning in a shooting near a gas station in Baton Rouge. (Hilary Scheinuk/The Advocate via AP)
A police helicopter flies near the scene of a fatal shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge. REUTERS/Joe Penney
Lew enforcement officers block a road after a fatal shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
Law enforcement officers do a security check on a man in a vehicle near the site of a shooting of police in Baton Rouge. REUTERS/Joe Penney
A Baton Rouge Police officer pours water on his head on Airline Hwy after 3 police officers were killed early this morning. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Law enforcement officers block the entrance to the Louisiana State Police headquarters after 3 police officers were killed early this morning. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Three policemen were shot dead and at least three others wounded when they were ambushed by a "masked gunman" in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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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.

Policeman Montrell Jackson was one of the victims, according to his former police partner. REUTERS
Policeman Montrell Jackson was one of the victims, according to his former police partner. REUTERS

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.

Law enforcement vehicles block access to Airline Highway near the scene of a fatal shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
Law enforcement vehicles block access to Airline Highway near the scene of a fatal shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

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.

Police officers arrive near the site of a shooting of police in Baton Rouge
Police officers arrive near the site of a shooting of police in Baton Rouge

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.

Police officers block off a road after a shooting of police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Police officers block off a road after a shooting of police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

"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".

Police officers block off a road after a shooting of police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Police officers block off a road after a shooting of police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

"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".

Police officers block off Airline Highway near the scene of a fatal shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge. REUTERS/Joe Penney
Police officers block off Airline Highway near the scene of a fatal shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge. REUTERS/Joe Penney

"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)

Telegraph.co.uk

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