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Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul, who recently met at the White House with President Joe Biden about crime.

Baton Rouge police had three people in custody and were searching for three more potential suspects — including two suspected shooters — in the Memorial Day triple homicide that left two young men and a toddler gunned down at a College Drive apartment complex pool, officials announced late Tuesday afternoon.

One suspect, a juvenile, had been booked on three counts of principal to first-degree murder and illegal use of weapon, police said during a press conference. A motive has not been determined.

Officers were expecting to book two more people Tuesday, both adults. One faces the same counts as the first suspect, and the other faces a count of accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.

Police are still actively searching for the two suspected shooters, who may have fled out of state. One is a juvenile and the other is an adult, but officials declined to provide their exact ages or identities. 

Detectives are also looking for a sixth suspect, though they have not yet identified that person.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul thanked the community for stepping up, getting involved and working with law enforcement to make the arrests possible. He also said his detectives have been working around the clock to solve this case and others.

"We're asking you to get involved before the crimes happen. Let's not wait," Paul said, using the case as an example of what can be accomplished when members of the public reach out to the police with tips. Ideally those tips would come in time to prevent crimes, he said.

The shooting, which added to an already unprecedented murder rate plaguing Baton Rouge, prompted responses from the police chief and mayor last week, both pledging to keep fighting gun violence and asking the public to help local law enforcement solve crimes. 

Gunfire broke out around 8 p.m. inside the pool area of the Fairway View apartments on College Drive, a relatively upscale complex that caters to LSU students. 

Dwayne Dunn Jr., 16, and his friend Reginald Thomas, 20, were pronounced dead on the scene. The toddler, Ja'Tyri Brown, later died at the hospital just a few months before her second birthday. Police believe she was not an intended target.

Dunn and Thomas were hanging out at the pool that evening, though neither of them lived at the complex. The gunman kept shooting even after killing them, which is when Ja'Tyri was shot while playing in the water, according to her family.

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The tragic incident came amid an ongoing spike in gun violence that started last year during the pandemic and shows no signs of slowing. Just hours before the triple homicide, a man was shot while driving on Addison Street off Winbourne Avenue. He was found dead after crashing his car.

The week prior, two masked gunmen drove up to the Siegen Lane IHOP around lunchtime and shot two employees, leaving one dead. Another young man was killed when an argument involving several people escalated into gunfire shortly after 10 a.m. last Thursday on North Marque Ann Drive.

Baton Rouge police are investigating another recent deaths. On Monday evening, a road rage incident escalated into gunfire behind the B-Quik convenience store on Perkins Road, leaving one driver shot to death. 

Across the parish, authorities have recorded at least 67 homicides since Jan. 1, most within city limits — a roughly 60 percent increase over the same time last year, with nearly one person killed every two days. Compare that to 2016, when the parish recorded 62 murders for the entire year.

The numbers are drawn from records maintained by The Advocate, which tracks intentional and unjustified killings per FBI crime reporting rules, though the data is preliminary and subject to change.

During an interview last week, Paul described several efforts he hopes will bring down the numbers, especially moving into the hot summer months when violence often spikes. One of them involves officers using data and technology to study criminal networks and the environments in which they operate. Another will deploy so-called violence interrupters, often former gang members or drug dealers who receive training to mentor youth and deescalate conflicts on the neighborhood level.

During the Tuesday press conference, Paul reiterated a familiar message: that his officers need support from the public to be effective. He said this case prompted a higher level of cooperation than most because a baby girl was among the victims.

"Let me be clear. We want that for every homicide," he said. "We cannot close these cases or stop them from happening without the community."

East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome also issued a statement Tuesday evening about the case.

"As we move forward, we must remember the tragic nature of gun violence in Baton Rouge and how it can be prevented," she said. "Just as the community helped in this case, we look to our residents to also help prevent future violence by reaching out to law enforcement before it occurs."


Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.