Three people were injured by gunfire late Thursday night on Gus Young Avenue, some four blocks from the North Foster Drive convenience store that’s been the center of ongoing protests over the shooting death of Alton Sterling.
Two unidentified shooters fired into a group of people standing along Gus Young Avenue, police said.
Paramedics rushed the three victims to a local hospital. Baton Rouge Police spokesman Cpl. L’Jean McKneely said Friday morning their injuries aren’t life-threatening.
An emotional crowd of about 30 onlookers gathered at the scene of the shooting.
McKneely said police are “not aware” of any connection between the triple shooting, which happened at 11:21 p.m. in the 4800 block of Gus Young, and the protests blocks away in the aftermath of the shooting death of the 37-year-old Sterling by police.
The Gus Young shooting is under investigation, McKneely said, and a motive and the identity of the shooters remained unknown Friday evening.
One victim, along with shell casings, was initially seen on North 49th Street near Gus Young Avenue, while another victim and more casings were at North 48th Street. After police arrived, a neighbor at the scene reported a third victim was found on the porch of a house near North 47th Street.
When police and ambulances first arrived, not many people were in the area, which is near Ragusa’s Deli on Gus Young Avenue. Police arrived in force, pulling up in at least 15 squad cars, with some officers carrying rifles and shotguns setting up a perimeter as others cased the scene for evidence. A police helicopter could be heard circling overhead.
Many of the onlookers, drawn largely from the nearby protests, expressed frustration over the violence and anguish that the fresh shootings might distract attention from their demands for justice in Sterling’s killing. That shooting, which was caught by cellphone video, is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Tensions between police and the small crowd, many of whom filmed officers on their phones and initially shouted at some, relaxed as police chatted with the protestors and curious neighbors.
Sandra Sterling, the aunt of Alton Sterling who had reared him after his mother died, arrived at the shooting scene and implored people to go home.
“Y’all going to keep fighting for my son?” Sterling asked as she tearfully walked with a group away from the taped-off scene. The crowd melted away not long after she spoke.
Kimberly Williams-Cowart, who lives in the neighborhood, said these shootings make her fear for the safety of her 24-year-old son, whom she described as “my life.”
“Our community is outraged. We are outraged not only about the shooting of Alton Sterling, but we are outraged over these shootings,” she said. “Until our lives matter to us, no one will understand what ‘Black Lives Matter’ means.”