Baton Rouge area: 2016 year in review

(WAFB) - From deadly tornadoes to an ambush attack on Baton Rouge law enforcement officers and historic flooding, 2016 has been a trying year in south Louisiana.

The year started off with the unexpected death of Baton Rouge serial killer, Derrick Todd Lee. The killer of seven women died in January after problems with his pacemaker.

Democrat John Bel Edwards was sworn in as Governor of Louisiana and President Barack Obama made his first visit to Baton Rouge as president, holding a town hall meeting at McKinley High School.

In February, a line of strong storms caused several tornadoes across the viewing area, which severely damaged a mobile and motor home park in Convent where two people died. It marked the first deadly tornado in St. James Parish since records started being kept back in 1950.

Livingston Parish became the center of the universe, so to speak, and became home to LIGO, which discovered gravitational waves.

In April, two Southern University students attending a birthday party were killed in a shooting at an apartment complex off Burbank Dr. That same month, longtime newsman, John Mahaffey, passed away. He came to WAFB in the 1970s, but eventually moved to WBRZ, where he worked for more than two decades.

Just two months later, beloved longtime Channel 9 newsman, Paul Gates, died of Alzheimer's disease at the age of 69. Known for his investigative reporting, Gates won numerous awards for his work in journalism. Also in June, pregnant schoolteacher, Lyntell Washington, was found shot and killed. An assistant principal who worked at the same school, and also the father of her unborn baby, was arrested and charged with her murder.

July kicked off what would prove to be one of the most trying times in Baton Rouge history. Police shot and killed Alton Sterling after being called to a report of a man with a gun outside of a convenience store. The shooting, captured on several cell phone cameras, sparked multiple demonstrations, leading to the arrests of more than 100 protesters.

Then came July 17, when a madman ambushed police officers at a convenience store off Airline Highway. Six officers were shot, three of which died. The gunman was eventually shot and killed. Funeral services for the three law enforcement officers were attended by officers from across the world as people honored the lives of the fallen lawmen.

Then came the historic August flood. Nearly 150,000 homes sustained damage, many nearly covered to the rooftop with floodwater. Hundreds were trapped in their homes and had to be rescued by boat. The flood brought to light many stories of strangers helping strangers, and also of hero, David Phung, who rescued a woman and her dog from floodwaters.

LSU made news in September by firing longtime head coach, Les Miles, and eventually hiring Ed Orgeron, also known as Coach O, as his replacement.

Louisiana Rising - A Benefit Concert raised nearly $800,000 for Louisiana flood victims.

In October, beloved LSU mascot Mike the Tiger passed away from cancer, and a Louisiana flood victim claimed a one million dollar Powerball prize.

In November, a fire at the Baton Rouge Exxon refinery left four workers with critical burns, and a Baton Rouge man was arrested, accused of killing and dismembering his parents during a Thanksgiving visit to their home in Tennessee.

December made history in politics with Sharon Weston Broome becoming Baton Rouge's first elected female mayor, and the family of wounded East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office Deputy Nick Tullier, a victim of the July ambush on police, declared Christmas had "come early." Tullier is making a remarkable recovery and was declared "fully conscious" by doctors at a Texas rehab hospital. Just this week, the man who some feared might not survive, was able to hand write a birthday card for his mother.

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