Houston/Baton Rouge: At least three police officers were killed and several others wounded on Sunday in a shootout in the US city of Baton Rouge with one gunman dead and two suspects believed to be at large, the latest gun violence incident to rock the country.
The motive of the shooting was not known but comes amid spiralling tensions across the city and the country between the black community and police. The races of the suspects and the officers were not immediately known.
Officials confirmed that three law enforcement officers died during an early morning shooting on Airline Highway in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, over a kilometre away from a local police station.
One shooter is dead, said Casey Rayborn Hicks, a spokeswoman for the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriffs Office.
She said law enforcement officials believe there are at least two other shooters who may be at large. However, investigators were working to determine the exact number of shooters involved.
“We do know, and do believe there are more than one suspect. Thats why were alerting the community,” said Cpl. LJean McKneely. “We sending in the robot to see if there are any explosives in the area or any explosives on him.”
Police received a call of “suspicious person walking down Airline Highway with an assault rifle,” a source said, adding that when police arrived, the man opened fire.
According to a senior White House Official, US President Barack Obama has been briefed on the Baton Rouge shooting.
White House has been in contact with local officials in Baton Rouge and has offered necessary assistance, the official said.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards called Baton Rouge shooting an “unspeakable and unjustified attack on all of us”.
“Rest assured, every resource available to the State of Louisiana will be used to ensure the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice,” Edwards said in a statement.
The victims were from Baton Rouge Police Department as well as East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriffs Office.
A witness described hearing at least 25 to 30 gunshots in the area. The shooting started shortly before 9 AM (local time) this morning.
“I walked out into the street to see what was going on, there was a man lying in the street. I assume he was dead because he wasnt moving,” a witness told WAFB-TV.
During a call to dispatch, an officer said, “unknown where the shots are coming from.”
Tensions have been high between members of the Baton Rouge community and law enforcement since Alton Sterling, a black man, was killed by white officers earlier this month after a scuffle at a convenience store. It is unclear whether Sunday’s shooting is connected to the Sterling incident.