herald

Monday 5 December 2016

Three police officers shot dead in ambush by masked gunman

Armed officers close off the highway where the attack took place yesterday
Armed officers close off the highway where the attack took place yesterday

Three police officers have been killed and three others wounded in a shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Police responded to reports of a masked man armed with an assault rifle yesterday morning. When police arrived, the gunman opened fire.

One of the officers is listed as critical and another in fair condition. The status of the third wounded officer is unknown.

The shooting took place at 9am local time, just one mile away from police headquarters in the area of Airline and Old Hammond highways. Roads were closed off in both directions.

A suspect was shot and killed, with a suspicion that two others may have been at large, but hours later police said that no other active shooters were in the city.

Armour

Police used a robot to check for explosives at the scene but it's unclear if a specific threat was made.

The suspect was dressed in black fatigues and a mask, and there were reports that he was wearing body armour.

President Barack Obama condemned the shootings saying there was "no justification" for the violence.

"We may not yet know the motives for this attack, but I want to be clear - there is no justification for violence against law enforcement. None. These attacks are the work of cowards who speak for no one," Obama said in a statement.

He added that he had offered the "full support of the federal government" to Louisiana's governor, Baton Rouge's mayor and local law enforcement.

"Justice will be done," he said.

One witness told WBRZ-TV that a man was dressed in black with his face covered and began randomly shooting as he walked by a convenience store and car wash.

Mark Clements, who lives near the scene, said he heard the shootout in his backyard, explaining: "I heard probably 10 to 12 gunshots go off.

"We heard a bunch of sirens and choppers and everything since then."

Airline Highway has been the site of angry protests following the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling on July 5.

Footage of the incident, which showed at least one officer shooting Sterling at point blank range, ignited protests and outrage across the country. The US Justice Department's civil rights division is currently investigating the incident.

In the days following Sterling's death, and another fatal police shooting of a black man in Minnesota, a gunman shot and killed five police officers in Dallas at an anti-police brutality protest.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown offered words of encouragement to the Baton Rouge Police Department yesterday.

Last week, police arrested four suspects deemed as a credible threat against law enforcement officials. One 12-year-old suspect was arrested after breaking into a store and stealing eight handguns. A second 17-year-old suspect reportedly said that he wanted to kill police officers.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump blamed a "lack of leadership" for yesterday's shooting.

Trump said in a statement posted on his Twitter and Facebook pages: "We grieve for the officers killed in Baton Rouge today."

He added: "How many law enforcement and people have to die because of a lack of leadership in our country? We demand law and order."

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