Records released Monday reveal more details about the attack on two Baton Rouge police officers Sunday afternoon in which Ronnie Kato is accused of shooting one of his victims to death and then standing over the officer's dead body, continuing to fire an assault style rifle at close range.

The details are included in the affidavit of probable cause officers filed upon Kato's arrest. The suspect barricaded himself inside his house after the shooting, leading to a standoff that lasted several hours until he was ultimately taken into custody without incident Sunday evening and later booked into jail.

Kato, 36, had told his girlfriend that if she called police, he would mimic a man who ambushed Baton Rouge area law officers in 2016, according to a 2017 police report cited in the affidavit. He said then that he would "Gavin Long" officers, police wrote.

Long traveled to Baton Rouge from Kansas City in summer 2016 and killed three law enforcement officers and injured three officers. That attack occurred amid protests over police brutality following the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling outside a convenience store on North Foster Drive, not far from where Sunday's attack occurred. 

Police were looking for Kato on Sunday in connection with a domestic violence homicide just hours earlier 5½ miles away in which he's accused of shooting to death his longtime girlfriend's stepfather. That shooting occurred around 9:30 a.m. Sunday on North Pamela Drive, and officers had received a tip that Kato was hiding out at a house on Conrad Drive in Baton Rouge's Howell Park neighborhood.

Officers went to the house to conduct a "knock and talk" with Kato, police wrote in the affidavit. Two officers went around the back of the house "to make sure Kato did not flee."

"As they approached the backyard Kato opened fire with an assault style rifle striking both officers," police said, killing one officer in the ambush. "Evidence on scene indicated that the suspect stood over the deceased officer and shot him multiple times with an assault style rifle. Several of the wounds appeared to be close contact."

Both officers were transported to the hospital, but the affidavit reveals one had already died on the scene. 

Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul gave a short media briefing outside the house on Conrad Drive after Kato had been taken into custody Sunday night. The chief didn't release the names of the officers who were shot but asked the community to pray for his department.

He said the officer who was killed was a BRPD veteran who had served for 21 years.

"Our officers — talk about being public servants and the responsibility that comes along with being a law enforcement officer," Paul said during a short media briefing at the scene Sunday. "This is a call no chief wants to get."

The second officer remains hospitalized.

Police filed a second arrest report for Kato detailing his alleged actions during the earlier domestic violence homicide that occurred on North Pamela Drive, a residential street off North Sherwood Forest Drive several miles from where the officers were shot. 

Kato's longtime girlfriend told police they had recently been arguing, so she went to her mother's house on North Pamela Drive. Kato showed up at the house Sunday morning and they two started arguing again, police said. 

She then walked in the house away from him, and Kato kicked down the door and struck her in the head with a pistol, according to the affidavit. Kato went back outside, retrieved a rifle and started shooting into the house, she told police. The girlfriend was hiding inside the bathroom but could hear Kato "in the house shooting and yelling 'where she at?'"

She told police she heard him leave and came out of the bathroom, at which point she saw that her stepfather had been shot. Police identified the victim as Curtis Richardson, 58.

There were six people inside when Kato shot up the house, police said. It appears Richardson was the only person injured in the attack.

Kato and his girlfriend had been together for almost 20 years and were engaged to be married, according to the affidavit. 

Aside from the 2017 police report in which Kato allegedly threatened an attack on law enforcement during an argument with his girlfriend, his documented criminal history contains no additional instances of violence. It appears the interaction with police in 2017 didn't result in charges being filed against Kato. 

East Baton Rouge court records show his criminal history is limited to two separate drug possession cases, one in 2001 and another in 2010 — and nothing since then besides a 2013 traffic ticket. Charges were dropped in the most recent drug possession case.

Civil court records also show no signs that Kato's girlfriend or anyone else had requested temporary protection from abuse. 

Criminal justice experts have been warning about a possible uptick in domestic violence that could occur amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic because victims are trapped in stressful situations and close quarters with their abusers. Such volatile situations are often dangerous for law enforcement officers responding to such calls.

A recent increase in shots fired calls also had Baton Rouge police cautioning members of the public to report crimes or potential violence before it happens. 

This is a developing story. More details to come.


Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.