BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It is an announcement that sent shockwaves across the community, reports that leaked Tuesday afternoon by national media outlets that the officers with the Baton Rouge Police Department involved in the shooting death of Alton Sterling nearly a year ago will not face federal charges.
"That is just very disrespectful," said community activist Keon Preston. "This has added a lot of fume to the fire and umm right now myself and several other community leaders, all we can do is pray and hope for peace."
Rumors ran rampant for days prior to the reports of the decision and community leaders had been organizing small gatherings leading up to a possible announcement. While many say they were not surprised by the outcome, they are disappointed in the way the information was delivered.
"We hadn't gotten any official word from the Department of Justice, yet," Rep. C. Denise Marcelle said. "We got The NY Times and The Washington Post releasing statements and nobody talked to the governor, nobody talked to the mayor."
There was a gathering at the Triple S Food Mart on Tuesday made up of those who knew Alton Sterling personally and those who did not. It was a previously planned vigil that turned into a peaceful protest as people continue to digest the reality of the situation.
Perhaps those taking it the hardest are Alton Sterling's family members. Veda Washington, his aunt, said finding out without notice is not what justice looks like.
"They promised my family that they would let us know," Washington said. "We've never grieved and we have never been to the grave, not yet."
While the federal investigation may be over, many are asking for peace but also encouraging people to not give up. The focus now shifts to the state and whether Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry will pursue criminal charges against the officers.
"They were investigating a civil rights violation and not a criminal investigation and that's what I've been telling people," Marcelle said. "There's still an opportunity for there to be a criminal investigation so don't lose your cool, don't blow up and don't burn your city."