Three police officers dead after Louisiana shooting

Incident happened in Baton Rouge, where killing of black man by white police sparked protests

A gunman who shot at least seven police officers, possibly killing three, at a shopping centre in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Video: Reuters / WAFB

 

Three law enforcement officers have died and three have been injured in a shooting incident in Baton Rouge, officials in Louisiana said.

Police said the suspect was shot and killed at the scene. Authorities initially believed that two other assailants might be at large, but hours later said that no other active shooters were in the city.

The incident, which happened at about 9am (local time) on Sunday morning, comes amid spiralling tensions across the city - and the US - between the black community and police.

The injured officers were taken to a local hospital, spokesman Sergeant Don Coppola told local TV, adding he did not know the extent of their injuries.

Those who died include two Baton Rouge police officers and one East Baton Rouge Parish deputy.

US president Barack Obama has been briefed on the incident, and has asked to be updated throughout the day.

The officers in Baton Rouge were responding to a call of shots fired when they were ambushed by at least one gunman, Mayor Kip Holden told NBC.

“There was a report of an active shooter,” Mr Holden said.

“Then people responded like they normally would and when they got there, this person was still firing at officers and unfortunately some have been wounded.”

A witness told WBRZ-TV that a man was dressed in black with his face covered shooting indiscriminately when he walked out between a convenience store and car wash across from Hammond Air Plaza.

A spokesman for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office said police and sheriff’s deputies were involved in the shooting incident.

“Multiple officers from both agencies sustained injuries and were transported to local hospitals,” he said in an email.

While the scene of the shootings was contained, police warned residents to stay away from the area, near Airline Highway, which is close to the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters, where dozens of protesters were arrested earlier this month.

Alton Sterling

The shooting took place in the same city where a black man, Alton Sterling (37), was shot dead outside a convenience store by two white police officers on July 5th, marking the beginning of a tumultuous week in America’s fraught history of race relations.

Earlier this month, a gunman in Dallas fatally shot five police officers at a protest over the Baton Rouge killing and a separate police shooting in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Family, friends and activists gathered on Saturday at Southern University, a historically black college in Baton Rouge, to both pay their respects to Mr Sterling and call for justice over his shooting.

In a three-hour service, luminaries including civil rights activist the Rev Jesse Jackson and close family members spoke about Mr Sterling, his death and the police treatment of African-Americans.

“Wrong must be corrected and the wrong must be held accountable,” said the Rev Al Sharpton. “We have got to stop going from funeral to funeral.”

Mr Sterling’s death was captured on mobile phone video and circulated widely on the internet.

His death, along with another fatal police shooting in Minnesota last week, sparked widespread protests. Then the fatal shooting of five police officers in Dallas by a black sniper heightened tensions even more.

Mr Sterling was selling CDs outside the Triple S Food Mart store, as he had done for years, when he was killed by police responding to a call of a man threatening someone with a gun.