For the second time in ten days police officers have been killed in a shooting in the U.S.
The officers were responding to a 911 call in Louisiana’s capital city of Baton Rouge when they were gunned down in an apparent “ambush” around 9 a.m. local time, said Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden.
Law enforcement officials initially believed that two other suspects were at large, but later said the deceased suspect was likely the only shooter.
The gunman was killed after the three police officers were killed and three others wounded.
Two of the officers killed were from the Baton Rouge Police Department. They were identified as Officer Montrell Jackson, 32, a 10-year veteran, and Matthew Gerald, 41, who had been serving for less than a year, officials said. Brad Garafola, 45, a 24-year veteran of the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s office, was also killed.
Holden identified the shooter as Gavin Long.
According to military records, Long was a Marine from 2005 to 2010 and rose to the rank of sergeant.
Long carried out the attack Sunday on his 29th birthday.
Officers responded to a report of a man with a rifle and wearing black by a convenience store at around 8:40 a.m., state police colonel Mike Edmonson told reporters late on Sunday. Two minutes later, shots were reported over police radio, a recording of which was posted online.
“Supposedly a lady came up and said there’s a subject walking with a coat and an assault rifle behind the store,” one officer tells another on the recording, just before a second shouts on the line: “Shots fired, officer down! Shots fired, officer down!”
The officers and the suspect then started a gunfight that lasted only a few minutes. When it was over the gunman was found dead by a car wash nearby the highway. A chorus of voices on the radio continued: “He is not in sight. Possible sniper.”
Before long, an officer reports: “I’m hit. I’m right in front of it. By the car wash.”
“We believe the person who shot and killed our officers, he is the person who was shot and killed at the scene,” Edmonson said.
Sunday’s shooting is a blow to a community still reeling from the death of Alton Sterling.
Baton Rouge police fatally shot Sterling earlier this month, sparking nationwide protests.
This latest tragedy is also a devastating loss for police departments all over the country, more than a week after Dallas lost five of its own officers targeted by a gunman.
It was the fourth high-profile deadly encounter in the United States involving police over the past two weeks.
In all, the violence has cost the lives of eight officers, including those in Baton Rouge, and two civilians and sparked a national debate over race and policing.
U.S. President Obama condemned the shooting and said attacks on police were “attacks against all of us and the rule of law that makes society possible.”
Obama made two statements, including one on national television.
“Five days ago I traveled to Dallas for the memorial service of the officers who were slain there,” he said. “I said that that killer would not be the last person who tries to make us turn on each other. It remains upon us to ensure that they fail.”
Obama urged Americans to temper their language and actions, especially at upcoming political conventions.
“We don’t need inflammatory rhetoric. We don’t need careless accusations,” he said. “Only we can prove that we have the grace and the character and the common humanity to end this kind of senseless violence.”