Return to Transcripts main page
CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
3 Officers Dead, 7 Shot in Baton Rouge. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired July 17, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:15] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning from Cleveland. I'm Brian Stelter, and this is RELIABLE SOURCES.
We begin -- we start this morning with breaking news from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There's a lot we don't know, but here's what we know: local officials say three police officers are feared dead after a shooting there. There are reports of multiple officers down, we don't know if that means they are dead or injured or a mixture of both.
The mayor-president of East Baton Rouge Parish is telling CNN, quote, "They are investigation. Police on the scene are investigating. Right now, we're trying to get our arms around everything. It's just been one thing after another."
Now, the mayor there partly referring to ongoing tension in the community after the shooting of Alton Sterling. But we're going to focus on what is happening there right now, because there are a variety of reports that we have to confirm.
We have some images beginning to come in from the scene, but information and images are scattered. So, we'll bring you it as we get it.
Let me get on the phone with law enforcement analyst Harry Houck. He's with us on the telephone.
Harry, we have been here all too often, talking nine days ago about the ambush in Dallas. Now, this report of a serious shooting in Baton Rouge. There's sporadic reports of a shoot-out between a suspect and the police, and we know there are multiple officers down, we don't know their condition.
When you hear this news once again, what is your initial reaction, knowing how other officers all across the country feel when they hear this news right now?
HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via telephone): Well, I tell you, first, it's heartbreaking to see police officers having to go through this again in another city. The fact is that there is a war on the police. And it has started and the fact is that we have a narrative out there that is -- that helps promote this type of things from occurring. You know, we had the shooting with Sterling in Baton Rouge, we don't
know the circumstances. The investigation has not ended yet. That suspect was armed and still apparently there are a lot of people who think what the police officers did there was criminal. And that narrative out there makes people like this man who shot these three police officers very, very mad, even though it is a false narrative, and we have police officers that are being attacked because of that.
STELTER: We are seeing many protesters in Baton Rouge and other cities peacefully protesting what they see as police brutality. We have seen that in Baton Rouge in recent days and recent weeks. Many of these, most of these, the vast majority of protesters would condemn any act of violence against police officers.
So when you say a war on cops, can you explain specifically what you mean by that?
HOUCK: Well, listen, I mean -- I'm not talking about peaceful protesters, Brian. You know, I'm talking about violent protester. I'm talking about the people that are attacking police officers. I'm talking about the narrative that's out by politicians towards police officers.
I'm talking about people that when they're stopped by police, they believe they can do and they do not have to comply. That's all a result of a false narrative.
I was just reading a story about a kid where they wanted to issue a summons to for driving on his bicycle on the sidewalk and they asked for identification, and he says, I'm not giving you identification, I don't have to.
There's a false narrative out there telling people that they do not have to cooperate with the police, and when that happens, then therefore, things escalate. That is the problem. That's what we're seeing here. We're seeing a lot of criminal types out here who have such hatred for the police officers out there, that's a result of this false narrative, that police officers are starting to die in the street in numbers we have never seen them before.
STELTER: By some accounts, by other accounts, data indicates that the number of officers killed in the line of duty has declined in recent years.
I know that the statistics are complicated and now is not the time necessarily --
STELTER: -- to get into them in detail.
I want to ask you -- by the way, let me just explain why we're showing viewers a map of Baton Rouge. We don't have pictures from the scene yet, but we hope to get them shortly. As you can imagine, local affiliates are hurrying to get to the scene, as are more authorities that we've seen video from local reporter on Twitter, on state police, SWAT arriving on the scene.
What we don't know is if this is still an active shooting situation, whether there is still some sort of shootout or something like that between the gunman, between the attackers perhaps and between the police officers.
What we do know, is that according to local authorities on the scene, including one of the Baton Rouge spokespeople, multiple officers were shot -- were shot in this situation.
[11:05:10] We're waiting on further information about whether that means there are injured officers or whether there are officers that have been deceased as a result of this. I can tell you, there are a variety of information online that we are trying to confirm right now.
So, Harry, if you can tell me what happened at a gut-wrenching moment like this, when you have a scene of a shooting that involves, we know at least multiple officers, what has to happen in order to obtain more information and in order to secure the scene?
HOUCK: Well, I'll tell you, what occurs first is the officers have got to coordinate and make sure that the area where the perpetrator is, is cordoned off. This way the perpetrator cannot escape from the area. And they are probably doing a door to door or a house to house search in that area where the shooter was last seen.
There's dozens of things going on at the same time, they're going to be talking to people also in that area. But the biggest thing is they want to make sure that other people that are out on the street are in a safe location. The officer is not only going to protect themselves, but they're going to protect the area where the shooter is. That's very important.
You get the police officers who are wounded out of there to the hospital as soon as possible. They probably took the police officers in a radio car, they're not going to wait for an ambulance. Most officers will transport an officer that has been shot in a radio car and treat him for his wounds in a backseat of a radio car underway to the hospital. That's the fastest way to get there and the fastest way to keep that police officer alive.
They probably got a SWAT in that area already. You got officers, we don't know what kind of weapon this guy used against police officers. So, there's a SWAT team there, the whole area is surrounded by police, to make sure that this man does not get away.
STELTER: At this time, we have no indication that there is more than one gunman. Sometimes in these situations, there's reports of multiple shooters, we have not heard anything about that. There are reports of a single gunman and we don't know if that person is still actively shooting or not.
STELTER: In a situation like this, Harry, is this essentially an all hands bulletin to bring every officer in? We're seeing Louisiana even state university police officers and others moving into the scene.
HOUCK: Yes. Well, you know, depending on how large your police department is. I'm sure neighboring police departments are going to come and help the officers, if they're the police departments outside of Baton Rouge, other police departments are calling and said, hey, you need any help. Police officers are responding. I'm sure the state police is responding, and maybe, you know, there's even been a call to the FBI that says if you need any help, we'll be there in a heart beat.
So, that's what usually goes on here. But Baton Rouge Police Department is a pretty good police department, they have got a lot of cops there, I'm sure they'll take any kind of help that anybody offers them.
STELTER: Harry Houck, thank you for joining me on the phone. And please stay with us as this information unfolds. As I mentioned earlier, we're limited about the information that we're receiving and also pictures from the scene. But as you can imagine, officers are moving toward the situation here as well as many, many police officers and other authorities.
A quick break here. We'll gather more information on this shooting in Baton Rouge and we'll be right back.
[11:12:00] STELTER: The worst possible kind of story to report this morning, multiple officers shot in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Information is very sketchy. We do not know how many officers were hit, we do not know if any are dead. We do not know how many are wounded.
There are mix reports from the scene about exactly what is going on and whether this is still an active shooter situation, or whether it has been resolved.
We're going to dip into this local affiliate that just arrived on the scene. It's WFAB. Let's listen to their reporting.
WAFB: Most of it happened in the back of that. Let's take a listen to what one viewer saw.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
STELTER: We're seeing pretty raw eyewitness video from the scene this morning, not clear exactly how many minutes ago that was taken. But this appears to be the initial emergency response.
We're told this happened relatively close by to the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters. As you may recall, there was a recent threat against officers there, there were people taken into custody in that situation.
In this case, we can see police officers here and cars and lights and sirens, but as we dip in and out of WAFB there in Baton Rouge, as they try to obtain more information, let me go on the phone to CNN law enforcement analyst Harry Houck.
Harry, it was nine, 10 ago, that the ambush occurred in Dallas, five police officers killed and others wounded in that encounter. That was by some historical measures some of the worst attacks against law enforcement in many, many years.
And here we are, we do not want to get ahead of the local reporting on the ground in Louisiana. But when you hear multiple officers shot in this situation in Baton Rouge, can you tell us what would be happening right now with that police department and with other authorities that would be swarming the scene?
HOUCK: Well, you know, another thing that police departments in the area and all around, is it's going to be a larger conspiracy to attack police officers. Listen, the police are doing everything they can to track down this shooter, like I said, that whole area is probably cordoned off, probably I would say within a square mile.
They have no idea -- I don't know if they're still confronting the shooter or not, I don't know if they have a hostage situation going on right now. So, you know, things are still pretty sketchy, but I tell you, Brian, what I have been noticing and looking at statistics, although in the last couple of years, these shootings have not breached a new plateau. But what we are seeing is that police ambushes are up considerably from the past years.
[11:15:06] I mean, we're looking at this year now that we're going to probably bypass the same amount of police officers that were shot in the line of duty since last year. So, I think -- the reports for 2014, and there were 11 ambushes on police officers in 2014. And, you know, I don't know the circumstances surrounding this shooting here, but it sure looks to me if multiple police officers were shot, that we're talking about an ambush here.
STELTER: So, that will be one of our questions, certainly, was this an ambush style situation?
Harry, please stay on the phone with us. I want to bring in other guests as well.
Art Broderick joining me on the line, another CNN law enforcement analyst.
And, Art, this may be a dumb question, but do you have any further information besides what we're sharing from your sources?
Actually let me work on getting Art reconnected with us. Stand by on that.
Just to explain to viewers what you're seeing on the screen here, this is the first images we're getting from Baton Rouge. This is a situation that's developing relatively early on a Sunday morning in Louisiana, in some ways very different from the sickening situation in Dallas, where there were many camera crews as well as peaceful protesters on the scene. In this case, we don't know how this started, we do know exactly what
time this situation started. But there are reports that multiple officers are down, there are conflicting results about whether any officers are dead or how many officers are dead and how many officers are injured. Presumably that information is being assessed on the scene.
But looking station here is showing some amateur eyewitness video of at least the early moments after this shooting. There were also reports from -- I believe we have the mayor actually joining us on the phone, let me see if we can dip into that.
This is from the affiliate WAFB. So, let's go ahead and listen in.
MAYOR KIP HOLDEN, BATON ROUGE LOUISIANA: Well, I tell you what. Right now hopefully, because we are now trying to make sure that we're getting more and more officers. I mean, the thing is right here, this is a very dangerous job. I mean, I cannot even tell you the magnitude, except for public information for city police and also being mayor for 12 years, you're seeing it from a totally different perspective.
When they kiss their daughters and sons and wives bye, you know, the bottom line is those families are not sure whether those police officers are going to come back to the door. But we can alleviate some of those fears by showing a spirit of brotherhood or sisterhood instead of drawing a line in the sand, and say, you stay on that side of the line, I stay on this side of the line and we're never going to shake hand.
So, right now, there's a call to everybody. Regardless of how you may feel, there's still a poor city and a great place that we live in, don't let it be defined by what happened today or what happened last week, or anything of that magnitude, it is a urgent call for us to come together.
WAFB ANCHOR: Mayor Holden, on the situation here and we appreciate your time.
What can you tell us on the officers' conditions? Have -- do we have anything more on maybe the officers that have passed away?
HOLDEN: No, sir, they have not confirmed, there are three they are describing as very seriously ill, so that's what I'm waiting on now is a confirmation from city police, but I can tell you it's a very, very fluid situation as we speak.
WAFB ANCHOR: Sure. Three feared dead from Mayor Kip Holden. Thank you very much for that, sir. I know much of this could change and I thank you for your comments.
Anything else that you wanted to add? I know that you're very busy.
HOLDEN: Well, Greg, let me thank you all, but there has to be a community dialogue here, not with bitterness, but saying, look, there have been some things that have happen in the our community, but my God, look how far we have come over the last decade plus. And we're going to have to find these granules of success. They're not lost.
Take the things that we have done to build this into the city that it is. And move forward, talk, have conversations, have dialogue, but don't go into a shell and not express yourself about things that you think need to happen in order for this city to continue to move forward.
WAFB: Mayor-President Kip Holden, thank you again. You're telling us that you have heard that three officers are --
STELTER: Local coverage with the local news in Baton Rouge. Speaking with the mayor about these police officers shot in Baton Rouge, it happened in the Old Hammond neighborhood, near the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters.
This eyewitness appears to show some shooting happening earlier this morning. We do know there was a shoot-out, at least at one point between this gunman and between officers, as the mayor just told the local station there, there are at least multiple officers that had been injured. There are three officers feared dead.
[11:20:01] That was one of the earlier reports last hour from local affiliates and local news organizations in Louisiana. But the exact numbers are unknown and we hope to get that information shortly and we are working on that urgently.
Let me bring on the phone with us here, Cedric Alexander, another CNN law enforcement analyst and director of public safety at the DeKalb County Police Department in Georgia.
Cedric, we want to hear first of all your reactions. You know, I'm sitting here and I can feel my heart breaking over this situation. I'm sitting here in Cleveland, at the Republican National Convention, which is supposed to a Grand Old Party, the whole nation's news media is focused on this event here, this convention.
And yet, once again we're seeing officers stricken in the line of fire in Louisiana in this case.
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via telephone): This is very, very saddening and very, very -- we need to pray at this very moment that all these officers are okay, and but I think we're going to have to wait until all the information evolves. But this is a very difficult time for Americans in this country and we really have to figure out how we're going to get to a place where we're going to resolve some of these angry feelings, for these police officers to come under attack the way they did, is shameful. There's no excuse for it.
So, there's just a -- very early on in this, for me, this is very, very painful and I'm quite sure it is for the whole law enforcement community across this country, that are listening and particularly in a time when we have an American presidential convention that is going on.
So, I think we all need to step back for a moment, catch our breath, say a prayer for those officers that they're all okay, and we're just going to wait and see what new information emerges in all of this, but as Americans, we got to step back now, we got to come together, we truly got to come together, at this very moment, not tomorrow, but right now at this very moment.
This is really very heartbreaking for all of us to hear right now.
STELTER: We're on the air saying that local authorities fear three police officers are dead and unfortunately, Cedric, I have to read the following from CNN's Don Lemon.
A source close with knowledge of the investigation telling Lemon that seven officers have been shot and at least three officers are dead in this developing situation in Baton Rouge. The source telling Don Lemon that at least three officers have been killed in this attack.
That is not confirmed by local authorities at a press conference or an on the record fashion. But it is what we are being told by a source with knowledge of the investigation.
Let me read the rest of what Don is sharing with us from his source. Police received a call that there was a suspicious person walking down Airline Highway with an assault rifle. This is according to the source with knowledge of this situation. When police arrived on scene, that man opened fire. The remaining officers re in critical condition, this source is telling Don Lemon.
One more details from his source, the source said that while the shooting happened within the city limits, the investigation has been turned over to the state police, and that this is still an active scene. When we say an active scene, it's not exactly clear what that means. There have been mixed reports about whether the gunman is still able to fire, whether he is dead or alive, we don't know that for sure.
But we know that at least one point, there was a shoot-out between these officers and the gunman. At this time, we have no other word of any other gunman besides this one, but we know that three officers are reported dead according to this source and that four others were shot. A source close to the investigation speaking to Don Lemon.
This all began a couple of hours ago in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, we're told during the 9:00 a.m. hour there. Unfortunately, an hour where many in Baton Rouge were just heading to church in the morning.
Let's go back to Cedric Alexander who's trying to interpret this and make sense of the senseless.
Cedric, can you tell us what would be happening in this situation in Louisiana now. Now that a couple of hours have passed and these officers have been taken to hospitals. What would be happening there?
ALEXANDER: I can only imagine this is still very early in the investigation, we need to wait and see the number of injuries that are involved. This is a senseless, senseless attack on police. I'm here in Washington, D.C. at a NOBLE conference, National
Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives convention, and the news is just resonating this entire hotel with over 1,000 members here, that is resonating across the country.
And I'm going to tell you, every law enforcement person here is just totally outraged and on top of that, there are law enforcement officials here from the state of Louisiana who just got word of this and I'm quite sure will be headed back to their jurisdictions there.
[11:25:04] But this is a very, very saddening event. But this is still a very early investigation and as the day goes by, we will learn more, but I just ask that everyone out there continue to just pay for those officers who were senselessly it appears were gunned down, which is not acceptable under any conditions.
This is shameful, this is heart breaking and not what's supposed to happen. And we got to stand up against this because we cannot allow our law enforcement personnel to be ambushed, come up under attack, because an attack on our law enforcement is an attack on our entire country, it's an attack on the citizens in that community, because the men and women who were responding were there to help others from getting injured and it appears that they may have been severely injured and may have even lost their lives and this is very hurtful to all of us who are Americans in this country, it's just painful.
STELTER: Indeed. Cedric, stay with us for one moment, I just want to explain to the viewers what happens happening here.
This is early information from a source with knowledge of the investigation, of a shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the source says at least three officers are dead, seven shot and that at least some of those shot are in critical condition. We see eye witness video here of officers running toward the scene.
We know that right now, according to local reporters who are there, there are helicopters overhead, there are state troopers, deputy sheriffs there, even Louisiana State University police swarming the scene.
We are not entirely clear about the status of the gunman, whether he has been detained or whether he has been shot or whether he is alive or dead. We are seeking more information on that.
But I was going to ask you, Cedric, any other questions that come to your mind? The first thing that you want to know as an officer, the first thing you need to know in a situation like this?
ALEXANDER: Well, the first thing I need to do is care for those injured officers. I need to determine and make sure that they're OK, getting them where they need to be. We need to secure public, what is going to be a huge and massive crime scene, but I need to care for those officers and any other civilians that may have been injured by gun fire. That's first and foremost.
STELTER: Yes. ALEXANDER: Secondarily to that will be securing that scene and determining. And we're here again, there's much we don't know. Is the gunman still moving? Or has the gunman's actions been neutralized? So, we're going to find out more and more.
But, right now, it's going to be about really making sure that all the officers are accounted for and all of them will get the medical attention that they need, along with the civilians who maybe out there and that may have been injured as well.
STELTER: Mr. Alexander, please stay with me.
I want to bring in Art Roderick, who's actually here with me in Cleveland at the convention.
Art -- CNN law enforcement analyst -- we have just shared this information from CNN's Don Lemon, from a source that say three officers have been killed and others wounded in this situation. When you try to process this, when you see these pictures, this eyewitness video, what is it that you want to know, beyond what Cedric was just describing, what are the key questions we need to get the answers?
ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Cedric is right. I mean, first they got to secure the scene and establish a perimeter. We don't know if the shooter is -- if he's still active, if he's still out there, was this a sniper situation? Or was this involving a handgun?
It seems to me that with so many officers down it could have been another sniper situation like we saw in Dallas. If that's the case, this is horrible, this is an attack on the rule of law in this country, this has got to stop.
This is unbelievable. If this is confirmed here, that's eight officers shot and killed.
STELTER: And let's add that caveat, that this is early information.
STELTER: We can pray that this is not the case, but this is early information from a source.
RODERICK: And I do know also that law enforcement is rolling out, I got worth earlier, of course you continue get in touch with anybody down there, because they're all responding to the scene. But I do know the U.S. Marshal's Gulf Coast Task Force has responded, and that is made up of state, local and federal officers.
So, they're rolling everybody out the scene right now to secure it.
STELTER: Let me ask you a question and forgive me for being frank about it. Is it better to have this gunman alive, or is it better to have this gunman dead?
RODERICK: Well, it's better obviously to take somebody alive. I mean, obviously, we want to know what are his reasons for doing this. But if they have do take him out, they'll take him out at this point. You know, of course as we know, the information coming in at this point is exaggerated. But hopefully, it's not going to turn out the way it's being reported right now.
STELTER: Yes, we can't say that enough. This is early information, but to tell you the truth, what we're seeing now from this source, is what local reporters from the scene were saying half an hour ago. They were saying that this is a worst, worst-case scenario.
RODERICK: Does not look good.
And, of course, we know that there has been threats in Baton Rouge since the shooting that occurred there.
STELTER: Let's remind viewers of that. So, this was several days ago.
RODERICK: Right. Yes.
STELTER: A number of people were arrested. And they were charged, not specifically with -- well, can you remind us of that situation?
Actually, what had happened is after the shooting that occurred with two law enforcement officers outside of the convenience store there, the next day or within 48 hours of that incident, there was a pawnshop that was robbed and I think approximately eight weapons were stolen.
A couple days later, law enforcement made three arrests. I believe they were looking for a fourth individual. They were all relatively young men. I think the oldest one was 17. There was one 13-year-old. And I talked to law enforcement officials down there after this arrest.
And they didn't think it was that organized, that this particular gang that had robbed this bond broker's place and took the weapons was not an organized group.
This sounds to me, if this turns out to be true, we have got something very organized going on down in Baton Rouge. And everybody's got to be put on alert. You know, obviously, we have the incident also up in Minneapolis and I know law enforcement is going to be on their toes.
STELTER: Let's tell viewers about that as well, that this was a shooting of an officer overnight in Minneapolis?
RODERICK: Yes. Yes.
Unfortunately, we don't know if this is copycat information. We're trying to sort through all of this. Unfortunately, it's coming so hot and heavy at this point that it's very difficult to get information out. But I would not be surprised if the FBI puts outs some sort of national alert to law enforcement now, if this turns out to be true.
STELTER: Even one officer dead is sickening. We are hearing that three have been killed in this shooting, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.
Authorities in Louisiana are not confirming either the death toll or the casualty count overall. We're not hearing information yet from the authorities. And is suppose that's because they're still find out.
Unfortunately, I don't think we're going to get in touch with anybody down there at this point in time that's in a law enforcement position, because, as you can see, they're all responding to this particular location and sort of the circumstances here.
STELTER: Let me share one more piece of information we're getting and we're trying to pass this along to you, the viewers at home, as I get it from CNN news headquarters.
A source with knowledge of the investigation tells CNN's Nick Valencia that is still an "active working scene," still an active crime scene here, and we can see the pictures from WAFB, the affiliate in Baton Rouge, of law enforcement presence.
I have a feeling we're seeing something through a straw here. in fact, there are hundreds of officers at the scene at this point. We're seeing images from the ground as more news outlets seek to get there.
More information CNN's Nick Valencia, let me just pull it up here for you. The officers involved in the shooting were from the Baton Rouge Police Department as well as from the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office. Officers from both departments, from both offices apparently involved in this shooting.
There's nothing more, Art -- as we see these pictures, this eyewitness video tells us relatively little from the moment of the crime.
RODERICK: Yes, I mean, again, we're seeing this with almost like blinders on. And I'm sure there's a lot going on since this video actually came out.
STELTER: And when the authorities say this is still an active working scene, do we take that to mean that there is still gunfire being exchanged? My reaction is would be they are now investigating the crime scene.
RODERICK: That could be the case, but it sounds like we haven't got word yet on what the status of the shooter is.
RODERICK: So that active scene could mean they're still looking for this particular individual. STELTER: There is a variety of information, some of it conflicting,
that we're receiving into CNN in terms of exactly what is happening in Baton Rouge. Please bear with us as we try to obtain the best information for you.
We're watching the local station here, which, of course, scrambled to get to this scene. You think about 9:00 in the morning, Sunday morning. To me, Art, it's my favorite time of the week, because the city is so quiet, neighborhoods are so quiet, people are just starting their days on the weekend, many of them heading to church.
RODERICK: That's right.
STELTER: And apparently this man was walking down -- this is I believe Airline Highway, walking down the street, with this weapon in his hand. That's why authorities were called to the scene, according to one of these initial reports.
The idea that he was out walking, you know, suggested there's a lot more we don't know in terms of why he was out there with that weapon.
This could have been -- and, of course, information is sketchy, but this could have been one of those scenarios that it was a distraction to get -- a lot of time, what we have seen is police officers ambushed in the past, they will get a 911 call, officers respond, and somebody will shoot at them. Nothing related to the call, but the call itself was an ambush tactic.
This could very well have the same. It's just odd to me that one person with a handgun would create this much damage, if three officers are down and seven are wounded. It sounds like to me that could have been the setup for an ambush.
STELTER: Let me ask CNN's Nick Valencia to join us here.
He is on the phone with us now.
Nick, you have been in Baton Rouge a number of days recently. I'm not exactly sure. Are you there right there?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. I'm on my way there in a couple of hours, but currently still in Atlanta.
STELTER: Can you tell us what you are being told, what information you have obtained?
Can you set the scene for us about what's happened in Baton Rouge in recent days? I think it's important to remind viewers not just about the Alton Sterling shooting by police officers, but also the protests that followed. Can you fill us in?
VALENCIA: Certainly, the last week has been an emotionally charged environment, all across the country, but specifically in Baton Rouge, a very anxious time, when we saw near riots in Baton Rouge about a week ago.
Talking to police officers from the state police and local agencies, they had told CNN that they had been on a heightened state of alert ever since what happened in Dallas, and the fear, of course, that something like this could happen in Baton Rouge because of the environment.
A source with knowledge of the investigation telling us up to seven to eight police officers wounded. Three, at least three of those officers are believed to be dead. Reports of a suspicious man walking there on U.S. Airline Highway, which is just a few blocks up from the cop shop, when we're told the call came into police.
They responded, members of the Baton Rouge Police Department, as well as the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office responding, and they were shot. This is still, from what we understand from this source, is still an active, working scene. More units, more police units are on the way right now.
There is a possibility that there could be a second shooter involved in this shooting against police officers -- Brian.
STELTER: And we often hear about the prospect of multiple shooters in these situations. For the most part, in most of these situations, it turns out to be a lone gunman, but, yes, there is that prospect and authorities have to take that seriously and investigate that.
Nick, just briefly, can you tell us have there been protests in the past couple of days in Baton Rouge?
My sense was that it's been relatively quiet in terms of protester response in Baton Rouge this weekend. Do you know?
VALENCIA: We saw a lot of demonstrators come from out of state. Last weekend, we saw that lead to sort of more and more demonstrations, more active demonstrations, a lot more arrests.
But in the past several days, local organizers had said that they were going to wait until after the funeral of Alton Sterling, which was on Friday, to continue their demonstration, to make a stronger push for what they were telling me was reformation within the Baton Rouge Police Department.
We hadn't seen the crowds out that we had seen last weekend, Brian, but there were certainly efforts under way to continue them. We just hadn't seen the level of protests that we saw last weekend.
STELTER: Nick Valencia, thank you very much.
As we watch live pictures here from the local affiliate in Baton Rouge, they are trying to gather more of the same information we're trying to gather. There are conflicting reports about the number of dead and injured. One source telling CNN that three officers are dead in this shooting, and that several others are wounded, some of them critically.
Let me ask you Cedric Alexander, CNN law enforcement analyst.
Cedric, are you receiving -- you're on the phone with us here. Any you receiving any further information from what is a small and friendly community of officers across the country, unfortunately a community that finds itself I'm sure in close communication on a just awful day like this?
ALEXANDER: Yes, this is painfully horrible news on a Sunday or any given day, for that matter.
As information continues to emerge, I think it's going to be very important to all of us to be able to kind of just keep our wits among ourselves right now and just continue to be very thoughtful and prayerful and hopeful for the officers that were injured out there on the scene. So we just don't know at this point what the fatality is going to be.
But this is very hurtful. I haven't received any additional information. I'm going to jump off here in just a moment and begin to make some contacts and pull some information together I hope to be helpful to the American people.
STELTER: And before you do that, let me ask you about one specific part of -- I apologize for interrupting you.
I wanted to ask you one more question before you hop off the phone. There are at least a couple of reports from the scene that this gunman had a "assault rifle." And I know the language we use around guns is specific and we should be very careful about it. Assault rifle can mean different things.
But what does it signal to you that there are at least initial indications that he had a very high-powered weapon?
ALEXANDER: Well, in all likelihood, to injure that many officers and create that -- what we suspect to be those number of deaths at that point, I'm quite -- I'm pretty certain that that's not going to be from a handgun, probably is going to be from an assault rifle that put them officers at a grave disadvantage.
And we know that type of weaponry is out on the street. But I don't want to make this a gun debate, because that's not what this is going to be about at this very moment. What this is going to be about, securing that scene and getting the help we need for these police officers and any community people who may have been injured and securing that scene and making sure that we have identified the perpetrator.
Either they have him cornered, either he's been neutralized, either he's given himself up. But this is very much early on. And for me, it's really staying focused right now on the health and welfare of those officers in that community, because I think that's critically important for this country at large.
Cedric, thank you for being here. Thank you for joining us here and helping us understand this to the degree that we can at all.
As mentioned here -- and I think we can't say it often enough -- we have very little information about exactly what's happening with this shooting in Baton Rouge. We know that multiple officers were struck. We have an indication from a source with knowledge of the investigation that three of them have died, that several others are wounded and that some are in critical condition.
We are seeking more information from the hospitals and from the authorities.
We do have this from CNN justice producer Mary Kay Mallonee. She says the ATF is now on scene in Baton Rouge and the special agent in charge from New Orleans is en route to the scene. That's according to a spokesperson from the ATF.
Art Roderick is here with me actually in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention.
Art, what is the significance of the ATF now being on scene?
RODERICK: I would say it's a weapons charge.
I'm sure everybody rolled out when this initial call went out, ATF, FBI, DEA, U.S. Marshals, Homeland Security. I'm sure everybody responded. Usually, when these types of incidents occur, not only were you going to get an immense federal response, but you're also going to get mutual aid from the local parishes around there and from the other city police officers to come and assist in the situation like this.
We're talking about a very large crime scene area. I agree with Cedric, if it is an assault rifle, ATF will be all over this. This is what ATF is going to be looking at, is going to be that particular weapon that was used in this -- the homicides.
STELTER: A local reporter is also saying the coroner's office has arrived on the scene in Baton Rouge.
I'm sitting here, watching these images along with you, and I can't help but wonder what kind of -- how deranged, how disturbed, how sick you have to be to shoot at police officers? You have studied this sort of situation. Do you know anything about what can possibly...
I think at this point in time in our history, that we're having a lot of anti-law enforcement rhetoric out there. And I think some of that might push somebody over the edge. STELTER: You do think that words can have those consequences?
RODERICK: I think words can have those consequences.
I mean, we have seen it here. Unfortunately, this individual obviously is deranged. I think once they pin this individual down, if they haven't already got him in custody and neutralized him, we're probably going to find out he's got some severe psychological issues.
But having said that, that's the one big key we always seek to come back to in situations like this, is we have an emotionally disturbed -- it's like somebody that's just not right in their head.
STELTER: And officers who could have helped and would have helped him in this case.
RODERICK: Would have helped him.
STELTER: As we take a look here, I think we mention, at about 11:45 Eastern time now, we have not received any indication that there's still gunfire being exchanged, at least for quite some time, and that may indicate that this is no longer an active shooting situation, this is no longer a standoff or a shoot-out, but instead an investigation of what happened at the crime scene.
RODERICK: I agree with you.
I think we would have had reports that shooting was still going on at this particular time. I think you're probably right, that they might have the scene contained. And now they're going through the arduous process of trying to get that crime scene together, look at all the rounds that were fired.
You know, if the individuals is alive or dead -- hopefully, he's alive and we can find out. The key to this is, why? Why did he do this? And if it's a psychological issue, OK, that's fine. If it's another issue, then we have got to really look at what's going on here.
Hopefully, you know, this individual had some mental problems and has not taken on a certain cause, causes that we have heard here as of late, whether it's terrorism or anti-law enforcement.
STELTER: The word terrorism comes up in situations like this, because people fear some sort of terrorism attack, using a weapon, using a gun like we saw in Orlando last month.
We should indicate we have no indication to that effect. We have heard nothing like that from any sources.
RODERICK: We're just speculating...
STELTER: But people's minds go to these various places, not just viewers at home, but mine as well and yours as well.
STELTER: And in a case like, a Sunday morning, does this mean that officers -- clearly, there were some on patrol. They were reporting to the scene.
Does it put them at more of a disadvantage that it is a Sunday morning? Would there be fewer officers able to respond as quickly?
RODERICK: I think that's probably not the case, because they have been on alert here for over a week now.
STELTER: OK. OK.
RODERICK: I think the one benefit that occurred on Sunday morning is that there probably wasn't a lot of the public out on the highway.
STELTER: Very different from the ambush we saw in Dallas?
RODERICK: Exactly, exactly. You're talking about a large protest.
Individuals can find -- basically in a fatal funnel walking up that street, and that's what happened in Dallas. In this particular scenario, it looks like a fairly large highway. If he's got an assault rifle, unfortunately, he can pick off those law enforcement officers as they're responding.
STELTER: What you're saying is, even though we're talking about this now a couple of hours after this incident, it could have lasted a relatively short period of time.
RODERICK: It could have lasted a relatively short period of time.
STELTER: And what we just don't know is any information on the shoot- out that occurred, any information on how this gunman was taken down.
STELTER: What are the other questions in your mind, the other things that are most important to find out in the hours to come?
RODERICK: Definitely why.
We have to find out why, because this is really going to affect what's going on around the rest of the country here.
STELTER: You say that. Why is that?
RODERICK: We're here in Cleveland.
We have got to know the reasons why because the FBI will take a look at this. And if it's a mentally disturbed individual, there still will be a warning going out to law enforcement around the country. Be hypervigilant. We have had law enforcement officers ambushed a couple times here now. This appears to be some type of ambush, when you have that many officers killed and wounded, so that alert will go out, but we have to know the reason why.
If this is related to any other issue, that's going to impact everything that's going on, to include what's happening here in Cleveland.
STELTER: Here in Cleveland, of course, an enormous police presence for this convention, security barricades and the like. But why would you say it would affect the convention?
RODERICK: Well, if it's -- again, we go back to the reason why. Why did this individual do this?
Unfortunately, there could be a copycat situation here. This is in Baton Rouge. There's really not much going on, on a Sunday here. Here, we have the RNC is going on.
To make a big impact and a splash, this would the case to do something similar to this.
STELTER: Because you probably mean as a target for someone.
RODERICK: As a target.
That's why this is a national special security event, because of that reason.
STELTER: Let's reset for viewers who are joining us this morning and turning on what is despicable news out of Baton Rouge, some gunman opening fire on police officers there.
The exactly numbers are not confirmed by authorities yet, but a source with knowledge of the investigation has told CNN's Don Lemon that three officers are dead, that seven were shot and that some of those who were shot who are alive are in critical condition.
The indication from Baton Rouge was that there was no active protest at the time. I mention that because you have seen on television protests against police brutality in Baton Rouge and in many other cities recently.
But to be clear, no protests at the time, no action like that. This was a quiet Sunday morning in Baton Rouge. This man, this gunman apparently walking on the side of the road with what is described as an assault rifle. At that time, police were called to the scene. They arrived at the scene and apparently gunfire then started, that this gunman started shooting at the police officers.
We know little other than that. But we have been showing you this eyewitness video that was taken during this incident, during this ordeal. It's something that when you see it, frankly, I become a bit speechless, because you can't possibly imagine what it was like for those officers in that situation, in that moment.
We are already hearing from other police departments across the country, police unions and others, saying they stand with Baton Rouge Police Department at this moment.
We know this occurred relatively close to the police department in question in an area, Old Hammond, the Old Hammond neighborhood of Baton Rouge. We know little other than that, but the authorities are gathering more information and so are we here at CNN to tell you exactly what has transpired and in what order.
There are indications this is still an active crime scene. Obviously, a lengthy investigation will have be done. We don't have any indication right now that this is an active shooting situation, and we have heard no reports of any exchanges of gunfire for quite some time now.
But we are continue to see images on the screen from our local affiliates of the intense and appropriate, obviously, security, police presence on scene, as what begins here will be hours and days of investigation to assess what happened.
Art Roderick, a CNN law enforcement analyst, is here with me on the set.
Art, I would imagine -- I'm thinking back to the Dallas ambush, sadly, only nine or 10 days ago at this point. Parts of Dallas were shut down for days afterwards as the investigation took place.
STELTER: This could be somewhat different because we're not talking about a crowded urban area.
But we are talking about an area, it is in the heart of Baton Rouge. What is it that investigators are going to need to find out about what happened at this crime scene?
RODERICK: Well, they're going to do their normal crime scene search. They're going to get on scene.
I think we have seen them before walking shoulder to shoulder up the highway here to try and locate every single bullet that was fired and figure out where it went, who shot, who was firing. The local law enforcement officers that responded will usually be on administrative leave until they can sort out exactly what happened here.
Of course, we don't know the condition of the shooter at this point in time. We haven't heard anything yet. But I agree with you. I think if there was still an active shooter situation going on and law enforcement was engaging with this individual, we would have heard reports that there's still gunfire. We haven't heard that.
STELTER: And what sort of training are officers given in order to have to engage with a gunman like this? What would that scenario be?
RODERICK: This was be very similar to an active shooter scenario that we have seen in the past. They are going to go in and immediately try to neutralize the threat.
The problem we have here is, you have got an individual with an assault rifle that can go through car doors, basically go through their bulletproof vests, which are only designed to stop a handgun at this point, until the SWAT teams shows up.
So these assault rifles and the damage they can do is pretty devastating.
STELTER: There are some indications, and, again, I know I sound repetitive to the viewers at home, but there's so much we don't know.
We want to emphasize the lack of information at this early hour. There are some reports however from authorities that this does appear to be an ambush-style attack. The mayor of Baton Rouge describing it in that way.
That lines up, Art, with what you were saying a few minutes ago, that this is -- from the descriptions we're getting from authorities early on, that it does sound to you like that.
When you have three officers possibly killed and seven or eight wounded, that is an ambush scenario. How many times have we heard one law enforcement officer goes into neutralize the shooter, and he takes him out? In this particular instance, we don't know if it was one shooters or two shooters. We don't know if it was multiple shooters.
STELTER: What do viewers, watching this and seeing these awful pictures, what should viewers know about what it is like for an officer on a day-to-day basis? These officers, apparently three dead, others injured, woke up on a quiet Sunday morning not having any idea this would happen.
What should we know about the day-to-day occupation that we're talking about here?
RODERICK: I know you have heard this before, but this is one of these scenarios that, you know, police officers get up in the morning, they go to work, they kiss their wife and kid goodbye, and they want to come home at night.
And in this particular case, if this turns out to be true, three officers are not going to come home tonight. We have got eight others in the hospital. So, wearing a uniform is a very difficult thing nowadays. You're basically a target out there. You're an easy target because you're there in a cruiser and you're in a uniform. And they can just pick you off. And hopefully we only have one shooter in this scenario, as opposed to multiple shooters.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: If you're just joining us, I'm Jake Tapper in Cleveland, sitting here with CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick And we are covering this horrible breaking news out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A source with knowledge of the investigation tells CNN that three
officers have been shot and killed, seven officers have been shot. This is breaking news with CNN. We're going to take a quick break, reset, and come right back.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
TAPPER: Thanks for joining us. I'm Jake Tapper in Cleveland, Ohio.
We are here to cover the Republican National Convention, of course, but we are going to turn our focus south right now. We have some disturbing breaking news coming out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
A source with knowledge of the investigation telling CNN that seven police officers in Baton Rouge or the Baton Rouge area have been shot and three of them are feared dead.
There is an active scene still going on at this hour. Police received a call earlier this morning that there was a suspicious person walking down Airline Highway with an assault rifle. The police investigated. And all we know as of now is that the shooting occurred within the city. Local police have already turned over the investigation to Louisiana State Police.
The officers involved in the shooting, we are told, were from Baton Rouge, the Baton Rouge Police Department, as well as from the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the ATF, is on the scene in Baton Rouge. The special agent in charge from New Orleans, we are told, is en route to the scene. That's according to a spokesperson from ATF.
Just a reminder that, when there are breaking news stories like this one, we will bring you all the information that we can, the best information from reputable sources, but quite often, those sources later change their account of what's going on as they get new information.
So, what we are going to do is bring you the best information we can, according to witnesses and according to authorities. But it is early information, just to keep that in mind.
Obviously, all of this takes place not in a vacuum, but roughly 10 days since five police officers in Dallas, Texas, were essentially assassinated by a domestic terrorist. It also occurs, of course, less than two weeks since Alton Sterling, an African-American man, was shot and killed in a confrontation with police.
And also a few days ago in Baton Rouge, there were law enforcement accounts and some arrests of individuals who were suspected of plotting an attempted assassination, attempted attack on law enforcement officials, all of this, of course, possibly relevant or may be completely incidental to what we're seeing out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Let's bring in CNN law enforcement analyst and former Assistant Director at the U.S. Marshals Service Art Roderick.
And, Art, the truth is, we have no idea if this is terrorism, if this is some sort of political statement, or just another day in the life of a police officer.
RODERICK: It could be, but we -- Baton Rouge right now is a flash point. We know that. They have had protests there. They have made some arrests during those protests.
And then we had the incident with the pawnshop being robbed and they made the three arrests. Supposedly, there was a fourth individual that was out. They recovered six of the eight weapons from that robbery. But this is this -- this goes beyond. Hopefully, we only have one shooter here who had some mental issues.
Hopefully, this is not somebody with some sort of demented cause. That is going to make all the difference in the world here. And I agree with you, Jake. It sounds like they might have this under control, because we have yet to hear of any more shots being fired in that area. And it has been over an hour now, I think, or almost two hours, since this incident occurred.
Somebody, a witness account in local media, I believe in "The New Orleans Times-Picayune," said he went to walk his dogs about 8:30, and not long after, he heard 10 to 12 gunshots.
TAPPER: All I meant by what I said earlier is that it is dangerous to be a police officer.
RODERICK: It is.
TAPPER: And it is possible this was just police officers, and they confronted a criminal and were shot.
RODERICK: I tend to agree, but it's three officers dead.
TAPPER: That's a lot.
RODERICK: That's a lot. That's a lot. So, something is not quite right.
TAPPER: That reads -- that reads different to you.
RODERICK: Completely reads different to me, because it's just a lot of casualties here, a lot of injuries