Baton Rouge shootings
As events in Baton Rouge, La. were still unfolding after 3 police officers were shot dead in an ambush Sunday morning, and 3 others wounded, U.S. President Barack Obama released a statement calling those behind the violence “cowards.” The motive for the attack is not yet known.
Obama’s statement came in advance of an address to the nation. “These attacks are the work of cowards who speak for no one. They right no wrongs. They advance no causes,” he said in the statement, released by the White House.
“The officers in Baton Rouge, the officers in Dallas, they were our fellow Americans, part of our community, part of our country, with people who loved and needed them, and who need us now — all of us — to be at our best.”
One suspect was killed during the gun battle and reports said 2 more were being sought; later police said they believe the dead suspect was the only shooter but that others may have been involved. The dead suspect was formerly a member of the military.
That man has been identified as a black male from Kansas City, Missouri, 29-year-old Gavin Eugene Long. Of the 3 officers killed, 2 were white and the other black. At least 2 of the 3 wounded officers were white; hospital spokesperson said one of the wounded is in critical condition.
Attacks on police
These killings come in the wake of a July 7 attack on police in Dallas, Texas in which 5 officers were shot dead and others wounded when a black gunman, who said he wanted to kill white people, in particular white police officers, opened fire at a protest. That gunman was later killed by police after negotiations to get him to surrender failed.
President Obama spoke at the funeral of the officers in Dallas and called upon the country to stand together. He said that Americans could, and would, remain united.
The following day he was part of a meeting between government, police leaders and black activists and numerous community leaders. However, those talks did not produce any clear result, with black activists emerging from them saying they did not feel their community was being protected and police saying they were not getting adequate support from governments.
These latest incidents of mayhem and death in the U.S. come after 2 men were killed by police officers. In Baton Rouge last month, police were called to a mall where a black male, Alton Sterling, 37, was alleged to have pulled a gun on a person he was having a dispute with. Mr. Sterling did not relinquish the gun and in a struggle with two white officers he was shot and killed.
Days later a black man in Minnesota, Philando Castile, 32, was shot dead by a Hispanic-American officer who said he thought Castile was reaching for the gun he had in the car, which he was licensed to carry. Castile’s girlfriend was in in the car, along with her daughter, 3, and said her boyfriend was merely reaching for his driver’s license, which the officer asked him to produce. She live-streamed the aftermath of the shooting on social media.
Since Dallas, there have been other incidents of black males ambushing white police officers and shooting them, though in 3 known cases in different states, the officers survived; motivation in these instances remains unknown.
President Obama spoke live on TV to the nation Sunday at 4:30 E.T. and said there was never any excuse for violence toward law enforcement officials. He said that every American must now “focus on words and actions that can unite this country rather than divide it further.”