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3 Police Officers Shot, Killed in Southern US City of Baton Rouge

  • VOA News

Law enforcement officers man a road block after police officers were shot earlier in the day in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, July 17, 2016. Multiple law enforcement officers were killed and wounded Sunday morning in a shooting near a gas station in Baton Rouge

Law enforcement officers man a road block after police officers were shot earlier in the day in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, July 17, 2016. Multiple law enforcement officers were killed and wounded Sunday morning in a shooting near a gas station in Baton Rouge

A former U.S. Marine has been identified as the gunman who shot and killed three police officers and wounded three others Sunday morning in the southern U.S. city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Military officials say Gavin Long of Kansas City, Missouri, on his 29th birthday, was the masked gunman who opened fire on the officers with an assault rifle. He served in the Marines from 2005 to 2010, earning the rank of sergeant. Long was deployed to Iraq from 2008 to 2009.

Long was killed in a shootout with police after killing two Baton Rouge police officers - Montrell Jackson and Matthew Gerald - and one officer of the East Baton Rouge sheriff's office - Brad Garafola.

A fourth officer, a deputy sheriff, remains in critical condition after undergoing emergency surgery. Two other officers received hospital treatment for non-life threatening wounds.

Authorities offered no immediate evidence that police were targeted in the shootings. State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said the investigation is ongoing "with a lot of moving parts." He did not rule out the possibility the shooter had one or more accomplices who remain at large.

Speaking alongside Edmonson, Governor John Bel Edwards sought to assure Baton Rouge residents still grappling with the July 5 police shooting of a black man that sparked widespread protests in cities across the country. Long, Sunday's shooter, was black. One of the officers killed Sunday, Jackson, was black, the other two were white.

A friend described Jackson, who was 32, as a big "Teddy Bear" of a man. Jackson was a 10-year veteran of the police force and was a new father.

Gerald joined Baton Rouge's police force less than a year ago. He was 41 and had been a Blackhawk helicopter crew chef in the Army.

Garafola, the father of four, was a 24-year veteran of the East Baton Rouge sheriff's office. One of his neighbors said he was never seen without at least one of his four children, who range in age from 7 to 21.

Edwards did not address the earlier shooting death in his comments, instead focusing on Sunday's violence, which he called an "absolutely unspeakable, heinous attack." He also said the probe has the full cooperation of federal authorities, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

President Barack Obama, speaking on national television, condemned the killings, saying such attacks "are "happening far too often." He called on Americans to "avoid divisive rhetoric" in the aftermath of the latest violence, which he earlier had described as "cowardly attacks on public servants, on the rule of law, and on civil society."

Obama also noted that Sunday's shootings, and other recent deadly violence involving police in Dallas, Texas, Baton Rouge and in Minnesota, come ahead of both Republican and Democratic nominating conventions set to begin in the coming days. He said that convention rhetoric "tends to get hotter than usual," and urged candidates and their supporters to avoid "careless accusations" that could further heighten tensions.

Watch President Obama's statement:

​Click here for the text of an earlier written statement by President Obama.

Authorities offered no immediate evidence that police were targeted in the shootings. And State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson later told reporters that investigators believe there was one shooter. But he also warned that the investigation is ongoing "with a lot of moving parts," and did not rule out the possibility that the shooter had one or more accomplices who remain at large.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Speaking alongside Edmonson, Governor John Bel Edwards sought to assure Baton Rouge residents still grappling with the July 5 police shooting of a black man that sparked widespread protests in major cities across the country.

Edwards did not address the earlier shooting death in his comments, instead focusing on Sunday's violence, which he called an "absolutely unspeakable, heinous attack." He also said the probe has the full cooperation of federal authorities, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Superintendent Edmonson said events began to unfold Sunday at 8:40 a.m., when an unidentified caller told police someone was carrying a rifle as he walked along a main roadway in the city. Nearby, as police approached the suspect a short while later, gunfire erupted behind a storefront, where authorities believe the officers and the gunman were shot.

WATCH: Video from the scene

Baton Rouge was the scene of a fatal police shooting of a black man July 5 that sparked widespread protests in major cities across the country.

The shooting death of Alton Sterling was partially recorded on a cell phone and widely circulated on social media.

Sterling’s death triggered intense protests that stretched for days in Baton Rouge. A day later, a Minnesota man was fatally shot during a traffic stop, and the following day five Dallas police officers were shot and killed by a heavily armed lone gunman. Before being killed by police, the Dallas shooter told police during a tense standoff that he was enraged by police killings.

Both Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican rival Donald Trump issued brief statements, with Clinton saying "there is no justification for violence, hate [or] for attacks on men and women who put their lives on the line every day."

Trump, writing on Twitter, extended condolences to police and their families, and placed blame for the attack on a lack of leadership. He did not elaborate, but in a separate tweet wrote: "We demand law and order."

A Look at Police Deaths

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