Candlelight vigil held for slain policeman in Baton Rouge

Candlelight vigil held for slain policeman in Baton Rouge

Mourners gathered on Monday evening (July 18) at a Baton Rouge church to hold a candlelight vigil for slain police officer Matthew Gerald.

Gerald was one of six policemen who was gunned down by an Iraq war veteran on Sunday in what officials have described as a brutally calculated ambush. Sunday’s shooting is the second racially charged armed assault on U.S. law enforcement this month.

Three officers were killed and three were wounded, one critically, when Gavin Eugene Long, a former U.S. Marine Corps sergeant, opened fire on police responding to a report of a gunman dressed all in black walking down a street in Louisiana’s capital on Sunday morning.

Updating reporters on their investigation a day after the deadly rampage, police described how video footage showed the 29-year-old suspect hunting down police officers and sheriff’s deputies, while bypassing civilians he encountered.

The carnage came to an abrupt end less than 10 minutes after it began when Long, affiliated with an African-American branch of the anti-government Sovereign Citizen movement, was shot dead by a police SWAT team marksman, firing from a position about 100 yards away.

Police said they believe that Long, armed with two rifles and a pistol, had intended to make his way to the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department a short distance away to carry on with his assault.

The ambush rocked a city still shaken from days of angry protests and tension over the fatal police shooting on July 5 of a 37-year-old black man, Alton Sterling, who was confronted by officers while selling CDs outside a Baton Rouge convenience store. Sterling was buried just last Friday.

A day after his slaying, another black man, Philando Castile, 32, was shot to death by a policeman during a traffic stop near St. Paul, Minnesota.

The back-to-back killings reignited nationwide protests over the use of force by police against minorities, including a fateful rally in Dallas on July 7 that ended up shattered with the deadly ambush of five police officers by a gunman apparently out to avenge the deaths of Sterling and Castile.