BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - WAFB interview with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards
WAFB: We continue the conversation after yesterday's horrific events in Baton Rouge. Officer-involved shooting. Six officers shot, three losing their live. Also, the gunman killed as well. With us this morning to talk about where we're coming from and where we're moving now Gov. John Bel Edwards. Good to see you this morning, governor.
Edwards: Matt, thank you very much for the opportunity to be here.
WAFB: I'm sorry it's under these circumstances, but it is where we are right now. The newest information coming in this morning, officially the identity of the shooter.
Edwards: Yes, Gavin Eugene Long, 29-year-old African-American man from Kansas City, MO, and of course Matt we had that information in terms of the identification that was on his body yesterday after he was killed. But it wasn't until about midnight last night that we were able to ensure through fingerprints that it was, in fact, Mr. Long - that the identification did correctly match up with the individual who was killed, so obviously we are confirming that information this morning.
WAFB: One of the fears as we have gone through a very tense couple of weeks is there would be somebody coming in from out of our city and trying to do something like this. Those fears obviously realized yesterday morning.
Edwards: Yes, and in a very real, tragic, painful way. A tough, tough day for Baton Rouge and the state of Louisiana, but particularly for the family members of these law enforcement officers who were killed. I had an opportunity yesterday to visit with them. All of them surrounded by very loving family members. And, of course, we still have three officers who were wounded, one of whom was treated and released, one who underwent surgery yesterday for injuries to his left shoulder - I was able to visit with him and his wife last night - and certainly Nick Tullier who is fighting for his life in the hospital today, and I was able to visit with some of his family members yesterday. Very tragic situation, but I want you to know the people of Baton Rouge, to an extreme degree, did a great job of, over the last three weeks, even those people who wanted to protest and did protest, overwhelmingly non-violent, overwhelmingly peaceful and legal, and in fact there was not a single arrest in a week related to any protest out there arising out of the Alton Sterling shooting. Of course, this was the fear that we had that someone would come in from somewhere else aiming to do harm to our community, particularly to law enforcement officers. As that threat became ever more real with the incidents in Dallas, and that happened yesterday here. I will tell you we have a tremendous law enforcement group here in Louisiana at the state and local level, but also our federal partners. We have a lot of resources on the ground. I am very confident that the investigation into this incident yesterday is going to be done very thoroughly and professionally, but also that the law enforcement we're providing here in Baton Rouge and around the state right now is more than adequate. And I want to reassure the people of Louisiana that we will leave no stone unturned and we're doing everything we can. They should feel, even though tensions are high - there's a lot of anxiety, a lot of questions - I want people to be reassured they can get out today, do what they need to do in terms of going to work or elsewhere, resume to the maximum degree possible their normal lives. We are going to find a way in Baton Rouge and around the state and around the country to, I believe, come together and out of this tragedy we're going to be stronger, more united than ever. It's going to be difficult, it's not going to happen over night, I can't tell you today that I have all the answers, but Matt I am convinced we're going to get there.
WAFB: I just had the conversation about the conversations that are going on, the buzzwords peace, unity and coming together. If they fall on deaf ears, then they are just that. They turn into rhetoric and nobody is listening to it, how do we move from the words to action?
Edwards: Well, and the other thing is 99.99 percent of the people can engage in constructive dialog.
Edwards: But you still have that risk, you have these lone gunmen, these very small extremists out there who mean to do harm and tear the very fabric of our society. You know, law and order is more than just a slogan. It is what underpins our society. It allows us to do what we do every day. When you attack law enforcement officers, you do attack all of us in a very real way. That's not hyperbole, that's not an overstatement. And that's why people are feeling so much anxiety and unease right now. But we're going to have to do better in terms of our dialog, but we can't pretend that's going to be enough. We need new law enforcement strategies, and I don't have those. I can't outline then for you today. But there is so much information, in fact, there is too much information online for people who will get on and suggest they are capable of these sorts of things, but the vast majority of those people do not intend and will never do harm, and you can't send law enforcement chasing all of those rabbits. But somehow we have to figure out a way to better screen all of these warning indicators that we get and direct our resources to those that are most likely to result in the type of incidents that we saw yesterday.
WAFB: Some more conversations that lead to something positive. More, newer strategies that lead to something positive. In the very near future, though, you guys are set to talk with everybody again at 1 p.m. this afternoon. What do we expect to hear?
Edwards: First, Matt, we did move the press conference to 2 p.m. We want to give an update on the investigation. We want to be able to confirm more of the information that we believe we had yesterday but also some additional information that will have come to light overnight. There is a reason why we didn't put out more information yesterday, because we needed the investigation to be able to unfold in a way that was best able to get the answers - the information that everyone is seeking. And also out of concern that the families of these law enforcement officers, we didn't want them inundated yesterday with a tremendous amount of calls and that sort of thing. We were trying to protect their privacy for a while. But I think you're going to see a 2 p.m. today you're going to see a lot more information about the shooter, about what we know. We don't know if we will have a full handle on what motivated him.
WAFB: Sure, that's to come.
Edwards: But we will have a lot more information that we will release at 2 p.m. today.
WAFB: Gov. John Bel Edwards, thank you for your time. Difficult conversation, it's a difficult time, period, for everybody that's down here.
Edwards: Matthew, thank you very much.
WAFB: It's good to see you, sir.