Three police officers were killed and three others wounded yesterday in the Louisiana city of Baton Rouge – less than two weeks after a black man was shot and killed by police in the city, in an incident that sparked demonstrations across the United States.
Police said last night the suspect was shot and killed at the scene, but later added that two “persons of interest” had been detained near Baton Rouge.
The shooting took place just before 9am, less than a mile from police headquarters in the state capital.
State police Colonel Mike Edmonson said: “At approximately 8:40am officers observed an individual wearing all black near a beauty supply store. About two minutes later shots were fired.
“At approximately 8:44am reports were received of officers down on the ground. At 8:46am reports were received of a suspect wearing all black standing near the car wash. Officers responded, engaged the suspect, and the suspect died at the scene.”
He added that three officers – two from Baton Rouge police, and one sheriff’s deputy – died. Three deputies were injured, and one is in critical condition.
US attorney Walt Green said that “all federal law enforcement assets that are needed will be given to this investigation”, adding: “We have agents from the ATF, the FBI as well as the United States marshals office as well as from my office assisting with the investigation until justice is served.”
Addressing the nation, president Barack Obama said the killings were attacks “on the rule of law and on civilised society, and they have to stop”.
He said there was no justification for violence against law enforcement and that the attacks are the work of cowards who speak for no-one.
He added: “Most of all our hearts go out to the families who are still grieving, our prayers go out to the officer still fighting for his life.”
He urged calm and unity at the coming political conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia, and asked those planning to attend to temper their rhetoric.
He said: “My fellow Americans, only we can prove through words and through deeds that we cannot be divided, and we’re going to have to keep on doing it again, and again, and again… Only we can prove that we have the grace and the character and the common humanity to end this kind of senseless violence.”
Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards called the shooting an “unspeakable, heinous attack”. He said: “There simply is no place for more violence. That doesn’t help anyone, it doesn’t further the conversation, it doesn’t address any injustice, perceived or real.”