BATON ROUGE, La. — A veteran Baton Rouge police officer was slain and a fellow officer critically wounded Sunday after they were ambushed by a murder suspect who allegedly threatened to kill officers in the past, according to authorities.
Lt. Glenn Dale Hutto, 45, was killed and Cpl. Derrick Maglone was critically injured outside a home on Conrad Drive in the city’s Howell Park neighborhood. Hutto, a 21-year veteran of the department, was promoted to lieutenant posthumously.
He is survived by his wife and four daughters.
Maglone, a seven-year veteran officer, remained hospitalized Wednesday at Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center. His family told The Advocate he is making “remarkable progress.”
According to police documents obtained by The Associated Press, the alleged shooter, Ronnie DeWayne Kato Jr., ambushed the officers as they arrived to question him about a slaying earlier Sunday morning.
Evidence at the scene and close-contact wounds on Hutto’s body indicate Kato stood over the slain officer as he lay on the ground and continued firing bullets into him, the AP reported.
“You know, our officers, we talk about being public servants and the responsibility that goes on with being a law enforcement officer,” Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said during a brief news conference at the scene Sunday. “This is the call no chief wants to get, no police officer wants to hear -- an officer down. But not only were these police officers public servants, they are fathers, husbands, loved by their families.”
Kato, 36, is being held in the East Baton Rouge Parish Jail on two counts of first-degree murder, six counts of attempted first-degree murder, five counts of home invasion and one count of aggravated battery, according to jail records and the AP.
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III announced Monday that his office would seek the death penalty against Kato, WAFB in Baton Rouge reported.
“My office rarely seeks the death penalty. We do so only in the most serious of cases,” Moore said, according to the news station. “The facts as alleged in the affidavits and from information that I have learned are egregious.”
The prosecutor said he had not yet had the opportunity to speak to the officers’ families but would do so when appropriate and gauge their feelings on his decision.
“As for me and my office, based on what I know now, I believe pursuing this matter as a death penalty case is what justice would demand,” Moore said.
The affidavits obtained by the AP allege that Kato’s girlfriend of 18 years told police she went to her mother’s home on North Pamela Drive following an argument between the couple. Around 9:30 a.m. Sunday, she was inside the house when she heard her car horn beeping, so she stepped outside and saw Kato.
The woman went back inside, at which point Kato kicked down the door and pistol-whipped her, according to the documents. The woman’s mother stopped the beating but witnesses said Kato went outside and came back in with an assault rifle.
Kato used the rifle to fatally shoot Curtis Richardson, 58, who The Advocate identified as his girlfriend’s stepfather.
Richardson’s daughter, India Richardson, and his son, Curtis Richardson Jr., described their father to Fox 44 as a protector, a kind man and the life of the party.
“When I was with him, I felt like I was so safe,” India Richardson said. “I never expected anything like this to happen. I honestly have no words.”
The newspaper reported that Hutto and Maglone, who were part of the team working the Richardson homicide, were acting on tips that Kato was hiding in a home in the 3100 block of Conrad Drive, about five and a half miles from where Richardson was killed. They, along with other officers, arrived there around 12:30 p.m. for what the affidavits called a “knock and talk” with Kato, according to the AP.
Hutto and Maglone, who went around to the backyard to ensure Kato didn’t flee from a back door, were shot as they attempted to make contact with him, the Advocate said. Both were rushed to Our Lady of the Lake, where Hutto was pronounced dead.
Kato was arrested at the Conrad Drive scene more than three hours after Hutto and Maglone were shot. According to police, he engaged in a standoff with SWAT officers and barricaded himself inside the house.
Police and the gunman exchanged gunfire multiple times during the standoff, but no one was injured, according to The Advocate. He was taken into custody without incident.
The affidavits offer insight into Kato’s alleged attitude toward police officers. According to the AP, his girlfriend told police he had threatened in 2017 to “Gavin Long” officers if she filed a report against him.
Gavin Eugene Long, 29, of Kansas City, Missouri, killed two Baton Rouge police officers and an East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputy in a July 17, 2016, targeted attack on law enforcement.
Long, a military veteran and member of a black anti-government group, was shot and killed by police. He had left a three-page suicide note in his rented vehicle, in which he wrote that he intended to bring destruction “upon bad cops as well as good cops in hopes that the good cops (which are the majority) will be able to stand together and enact justice and punishment against bad cops.”
Long’s apparent motive was police violence against black Americans. Less than two weeks before the mass shooting, Baton Rouge police officers had shot and killed Alton Sterling outside a convenience store, a killing that prompted protests and unrest in the city.
In Sunday’s shooting, Kato used a rifle similar to the one used by Long in his 2016 police ambush, the AP reported.
Following the shooting of Hutto and Maglone, dozens of their colleagues gathered at the hospital to await word on their conditions, The Advocate reported. A coroner’s van left the hospital with Hutto’s body and a police escort around the same time Kato was being taken into custody.
Paul said the killing of an officer is particularly hard on the department as it grapples with the added stress of serving the public through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Still, our heroes step up,” the chief said.
He asked the Baton Rouge community to keep the officers’ families and the department as a whole in their prayers.
Local and state officials mourned the department’s loss on social media.
“It is a tragic day in the Baton Rouge community,” Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome said in a statement.
She tweeted that she is “deeply saddened” by the loss of Hutto, who she called “one of our bravest souls,” and the wounding of Maglone.
“I’m equally saddened by the loss of one of our community members killed just hours prior,” Broome tweeted about Richardson’s slaying.
“As we mourn this tragedy, let us reinforce that violence in our community, and particularly violence against law enforcement, is unacceptable,” the mayor wrote. “During this stressful time, both in our community and across the globe, it is imperative that we join together, now more than ever.”
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards also tweeted about the city’s loss.
“Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the loss of a dedicated public servant who made the ultimate sacrifice for the people of Baton Rouge and the state of Louisiana,” Edwards wrote. “This officer protected and served the Baton Rouge community for more than 20 years, and we will never be able to fully repay him for his heroism and commitment to keeping us safe.”
Edwards also offered prayers for Maglone and his family.
No public funeral service has been scheduled for Hutto due to the COVID-19 outbreak. A funeral procession was held for him Tuesday, according to The Advocate.
The procession, led by dozens of Baton Rouge police motormen, escorted his body from the coroner’s office to Rabenhorst Funeral Home in downtown Baton Rouge.
See video of Hutto’s funeral procession below, courtesy of The Advocate.
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