Shooting In Baton Rouge Leaves 3 Police Officers Dead, 3 Others Wounded

Jul 17, 2016
Originally published on July 17, 2016 6:28 pm
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'd like to go now to Jesse Hardman of member station WNNO speaking to us from Baton Rouge. He's been covering the events of the day. Jesse, thank you so much for staying with us.

JESSE HARDMAN, BYLINE: Yeah, of course.

MARTIN: Can you just please bring us up to date on what we know of the events of the day for those who are just joining us?

HARDMAN: Sure. So this morning around 8:40 there was an incident near the corner of Airline Highway and Old Hammond Highway here in Baton Rouge. Three officers are dead, two Baton Rouge Police officers and one officer from the sheriff's department for East Baton Rouge Parish here. The shooter is also dead, Gavin Eugene Long, who's believed to be from Missouri.

And at a press conference a few hours ago, it was said that it's no longer an active shooting situation in that area. So the police are now - it's a crime scene, essentially. Two other people were detained, but there's no confirmation that had anything to do with this situation yet.

MARTIN: We noted earlier, you know, that President Obama, the governor of Louisiana, a number of the other public officials - the mayor of Baton Rouge who spoke at the press conference you referenced earlier that you attended - made very specific appeals for calm and for unity and really implored the public not to allow this incident to divide the community further. Can you shed a little light on what exactly they're talking about? And why were they so explicit in those appeals?

HARDMAN: Well, again, last week same time, same day, on Sunday - same room, there was another press conference, and it was a very different tone. It was about the protests that had been going on since the death of Alton Sterling. And it was a much more contentious scene. Just listening to Mr. Pitts, I was reminded of a quote from last week from Baton Rouge Police Department Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. who said my officers are human. They're tired. They're scared. There are things that happen on those lines. That was really the one emotional thing that was said last week at that press conference, and it really looms large today in thinking about what's happened.

MARTIN: What else can you tell us, if anything, about what that atmosphere has been in Baton Rouge in these recent days that - when you've been covering this story?

HARDMAN: It's tense. It's hot. It's, you know, mid-July. Today, people weren't sure if they should go outside or stay in their homes. It's really difficult to get to different parts of town right now, so people are trying to avoid that area. Last weekend, lots of protests - peaceful marches but also clashes between police in riot gear and protesters, almost 200 arrests last weekend. So it's been a lot for a town that's often very quiet on the weekend.

MARTIN: And - only have about a minute and a half left - I want to go back to that very moving Facebook post that we found from Montrell Jackson, one of the officers who we now know was killed in this incident.

And he goes on to say that when people you know begin to question your integrity, you realize they don't really know you. Look at my actions. They speak loud and clear. And I personally want to send prayers out to everyone directly affected by this tragedy. I'm assuming, because this was when it was posted, he's talking about the Alton Sterling death.

He says these are trying times. Please don't let hate infect your heart. This city must and will get better. I'm working in these streets. So any protesters, officers, friends, family or whoever, if you see me and need a hug or want to say a prayer, I got you. And he has an emoji of a police officer with kind of a peace sign.

I wonder, though, if the officers there have felt under attack. Do they feel that they have been under attack in these difficult times?

HARDMAN: Yeah. My sense is definitely. I mean, I think that's what the police chief was referring to last week in my officers are human. That's really beautiful, what he wrote. It's a small town. People know each other. Communities do know these officers. I think, you know, there's things that happen through the course of a day that make people feel a little bit like, especially on the north side of Baton Rouge, that the police are against them. But if you were to stop them and really ask them, they'll say we need the police...

MARTIN: OK.

HARDMAN: ...And we support them.

MARTIN: That's Jesse Hardman of member station WWNO. He's been with us throughout the day, covering these events. Jesse, thanks so much for speaking with us.

HARDMAN: Thanks.

MARTIN: And NPR will continue to follow developments in Baton Rouge. And we're expecting a press conference from law enforcement on Monday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.