Baton Rouge reeling following Sunday's deadly attack on two police officers
BATON ROUGE — After a deadly attack on two Baton Rouge police officers on Sunday, local officials are calling for a decrease in violence in the capital city and residents are somber as their thoughts remain with the fallen officer's family.
Ronnie Kato, the man accused of killing Sgt. Glenn Dale Hutto and critically wounding a second Baton Rouge police officer, Cpl. Derrick Maglone on Sunday, has been arrested and is currently behind bars in East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.
But his alleged attack on members of the police force, and on a third man named Curtis Richardson who Kato is also accused of killing on Sunday, are being analyzed as officials and locals ask why.
Some point to an underlying issue of domestic violence, suggesting that it served as a backdrop for Kato's nearly every single one of his alleged actions.
Detectives believe Kato, 36, shot and killed Richardson, his longtime girlfriend's stepfather, on Sunday morning as a result of an argument he and his girlfriend were having.
An official police report says Kato and his girlfriend had recently been arguing, so she went to her mother's house on North Pamela Drive.
Shortly before 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, police say Kato showed up at the Pamela Drive home and another disagreement ensued.
The affidavit says after the couple argued, Kato's girlfriend left him standing outside and went into her mother's house, but Kato followed her, kicked down the door, and hit her in the head with a pistol.
His girlfriend told police Kato then went back outside, got a rifle and started spraying the home with bullets as he shouted, "Where she at?"
She quickly hid, but after the gunfire died down, she told police she found that her stepfather had been shot.
According to The Advocate, a close friend of Kato's indicated that news of the entire incident was a complete a shock to him.
The man, who preferred not to be named, said he'd previously believed Kato was a devoted father and overall decent person.
He also said he never knew of Kato harboring any grudges against law enforcement or saying he intended to shoot a police officer.
"There's no way this was a planned attack on the police. He's no Gavin Long," he said. "This was a domestic situation that blew up and he must have lost his mind. From that moment on, it's almost like he had walked through the gates and couldn't turn back around."
The man went on to say he's now realizing the importance of noticing the warning signs of domestic violence and addressing them before things escalate past the point of no return.
"Our family is torn apart and now other families have to mourn," he said. "My condolences for the officers and the police department. It's just senseless."
According to a 2017 police report, the tragic incident on Sunday morning wasn't the first time Kato was involved in a domestic dispute that got out of hand.
This report indicated that police were called to Kato's house in reference to a disturbance, and his girlfriend told officers he was drunk, had threatened her, threatened to "Gavin Long" any police officers she called, and taken her keys.
Police say though after this incident, she felt the need to leave with their children and stay at a relative's house until Kato calmed down, according to the police report, no charges were filed against Kato.
According to The National Coalition against Domestic Violence, a study of intimate partner homicides found that 20% of victims killed as a result of domestic violence related incidents were not the intimate partners themselves, but family members, friends, neighbors, persons who intervened, law enforcement responders, or bystanders.
Officials, ever aware of these statistics, often warn members of law enforcement to use extreme caution when responding to domestic disputes and locals, likewise, are urged to remain on the lookout for indications that a person in a relationship may be in an abusive relationship.
Along those lines, during the initial stages of the pandemic, local officials warned that an uptick in domestic violence might occur due to the coroanvirus-situation. With victims trapped in close quarters with an unstable and abusive partner, they predicted that an increase in volatile situations was possible.
So far, Baton Rouge police have seen a recent increase in shots fired calls and they're now cautioning the public to report crimes or potential violence before they actually happen.
Now, as the community unites to grieve for a fallen officer and support the family of a second wounded officer, they continue to look for ways to reduce acts of domestic violence.
On Monday afternoon, Governor John Bel Edwards paid tribute to Sgt. Hutto, Cpl. Maglone, and to a third former Baton Rouge Police officer who was killed in a separate incident on Sunday.
"I know how much we appreciate law enforcement officers who every day when they go to work they put their lives on the line for us to keep us safe," the Governor said. "And obviously we cannot do enough to show our appreciation or to repay them or to thank them, so I'm just going to ask everyone to lift the families of those three officers up in prayer."
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