At least three Baton Rouge police officers were killed and three others injured Sunday morning, the city’s mayor and the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office said.
At least one suspect is dead, but law enforcement officials believe two others may be at large, the sheriff’s office said. A senior law enforcement official said the suspect wore black fatigues and was armed with a rifle.
The attack comes less than two weeks after the fatal shooting of a black man by police sparked protests in Baton Rouge, turning the city into the latest flashpoint in the ongoing debate over law enforcement tactics.
The officers were responding to a call of shots fired when they were gunned down in an apparent “ambush” around 9 a.m. local time, Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden told MSNBC.
Multiple police units were stationed at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, where the stricken officers were believed to be undergoing treatment at a trauma center, The Associated Press reported.
An AP reporter who was at the scene saw police vehicles with lights flashing massed about a half-mile from the police headquarters on Airline Highway. Police armed with long guns on the road stopped at least two vehicles driving away from the scene and checked their trunks and vehicles before allowing them to drive away, the reporter said.
Marquis Gibson, an eyewitness, was at the Hammond Aire Plaza mall when he heard shots and ran inside. “Officers were falling down and hiding,” he told NBC News.
In a statement, President Barack Obama condemned the attack, saying “there is no justification for violence against law enforcement.”
“None,” he reiterated.
“For the second time in two weeks, police officers who put their lives on the line for ours every day were doing their job when they were killed in a cowardly and reprehensible assault,” the president said.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards condemned the “unspeakable and unjustified attack” on law enforcement.