BR police chief warns of gang activity, says ‘violence is looming’

Amid a recent spike in gun violence in Baton Rouge, local officials shared updates on crime Thursday afternoon.

Thursday’s news conference comes nearly one week after LSU student Allison Rice was shot and killed on Government Street.

In a six-hour span from Sept. 21 to early Sept. 22, there were five shootings in Baton Rouge and one person was killed.

Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome

The man was killed after an apartment door was kicked in and he was shot at an apartment complex on West McKinley Street.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said the department has made more than 3,100 felony arrests in 2022 and has seized approximately 1,366 firearms.

“We’ve done this by focusing on vital areas in our community, targeting the small group of individuals who are involved in crime and we will continue our enforcement efforts in the city,” he said. “We cannot arrest our way out of this problem. Crime is a socioeconomic issue and we have to deal with the root causes of violence.”

Paul said there are eight gangs actively engaged in Baton Rouge. He said they’ve been following data on the gangs and have a plan to set up more police presence in the areas ravaged by higher crime in each district. The chief said his investigators believe ‘violence is looming’ because of the gang activity.

“We will not tolerate the gun violence in the city,” he said. “We ask the community to be patient with us when you see us out there.”

Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome listed several victims of violent crimes in Baton Rouge over the last four years.

“I share the heartbreak for all families of the victims because these are citizens in our community,” she said. “They’re our family members. Our loved ones that we’re losing to violence.”

Paul and Broome expressed frustration with the number of shootings that have been committed by people who had recently been in jail for recent crimes.

“In many of these incidents, we are seeing the arrests of these same individuals who have already been arrested for other serious crimes,” Broome said. “We can’t turn a blind eye to continuous offenses of the same group of individuals.”

Broome said investigating gun and law crimes and prosecuting cases are foundational elements of East Baton Rouge’s collaborative violence reduction strategy.

“The priority is to identify and concentrate their efforts to investigate, prosecute and reduce gun violence,” she said. “Secondly, Baton Rouge Police Department is focusing on street crimes, narcotics, special operations and specific sub-zones and districts where we are experiencing high incidents of shootings and how we prioritize assigning personnel and more aggressive recruitment to increase boots on the ground.”

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