Authorities in Baton Rouge, Louisiana have arrested four people for burglarizing a pawn shop and stealing guns with the intent to kill law enforcement officers.
Louisiana State Police Superintendent Mike Endmonson told reporters at a press conference Tuesday that they believe the plot represented a “substantial, credible threat” against police.
The burglary of the pawn shop on Government Street in Baton Rouge took place early Saturday morning. Surveillance video showed the burglars used a ladder to climb up onto the roof and break into the building, stealing eight handguns and one BB gun.
Police responded to the alarm and arrived in time to catch one of the suspects at the scene, identified as Antonio Thomas, 17. Thomas admitted that the guns were stolen to kill cops. He had a BB gun and handgun on him when they captured him.
Additional suspects arrested were Trashone Coats, 23, who had two of the stolen guns; Malik Bridgewater, 20, arrested at his home on Sunday with three of the stolen guns; and a 13-year-old boy was arrested Tuesday.
The pawn shop was just down the road from the food mart where Alton Sterling was fatally shot by officers four days earlier.
Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations have erupted in Baton Rouge (and around the nation) as a result. Police have been lining the streets of Baton Rouge in riot gear, wearing helmets and shields, as the protests escalated.
At the news conference Tuesday, Baton Route Police Chief Carl Dabadie, Jr. explained that the pawn shop burglary was one of the reasons they took such an aggressive stand toward the protesters, “because we had credible threats against the lives of law enforcement in the city.”
Edmonson said the show of force by law enforcement during the demonstrations since the Sterling shooting have not been out of scale. “You saw, when individuals wanted to demonstrate in a peaceful manner, we escorted them. We shut down roadways and intersections, and we walked with them,” he said. “But Sunday afternoon, those people were not here for a peaceful protest. They were trying to get on the Interstate, they were hurling bricks, pieces of concrete, they were injuring officers. Police here have used incredible restraint based on what has happened to them.”
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said, “We’ve had a police officer with teeth knocked out of his face because of a rock. If you don’t have on riot gear, you have no defense against that sort of thing.”
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