Obama calls for unity following Baton Rouge shooting

Suspect in the killing of three police officers in Louisiana named as Gavin Long

Three police officers were killed and three more injured yesterday in a shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Police confirmed the three fatalities in what Kip Holden, the mayor of the city, called an "ambush".

A suspect, dressed in black and wearing a mask, was killed by police. Police had received a call about a suspicious person walking along a highway; the shooting began when officers arrived.

Police said two “persons of interest” were detained in the nearby town of Addis.

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Multiple US news outlets identified the suspected gunman as Gavin Long, with CBS News saying he was from Kansas City, Missouri and that yesterday was his 29th birthday.

Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards called the killings "an unspeakable and unjustified attack".

US president Barack Obama called for unity and warned against "inflammatory rhetoric".

He said the officers “were doing their job when they were killed in a cowardly and reprehensible assault . . .These are attacks on public servants, on the rule of law, and on civilised society, and they have to stop.”

Racial tension

The killings come at a time of high racial tension after the fatal police shooting of black man

Alton Sterling

triggered protests and turned the city into a flashpoint in the national debate over police tactics and race relations.

Mr Sterling (37) was shot by officers while pinned to the ground. They thought he was reaching for a gun.

In the days that followed, another black man, Philando Castile (32) was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop in Minnesota and former US army reservist Micah Johnson (25) shot dead five officers in Dallas in a revenge attack.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent