Local law enforcement officials in Manatee County reacted with dismay to the news of three police officers being killed and three others wounded Sunday morning in Baton Rouge.
The violence took place just before 9 a.m., less than 1 mile from police headquarters. The suspect, a former Marine, is dead, law enforcement officials said.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the families in Baton Rouge,” Holmes Beach Police Chief William Tokajer said early Sunday afternoon. “We are going to continue to be vigilant and patrol our city and to make sure officers are trained and prepared.”
The deaths of three officers in Baton Rouge comes just 10 days after the police shootings in Dallas, which left five officers dead. Military veteran Micah Xavier Johnson, who officials said gunned down the Texas police officers, was killed in the early hours of July 8 by a bomb attached to a robot.
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Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube said his thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the officers killed in Baton Rouge and that the “law enforcement family grieves for those that continue to lose their lives.”
“It’s just another sad day in Amerca,” Steube said. “We’re the difference between right and wrong in our communities and, unfortunately, it appears that people are indifferent with us ... I’m pretty much at a loss for words because I can’t imagine what would drive someone to do this. It’s beyond all comprehension.”
The attacks on law enforcement in Dallas and, now in Baton Rouge, are unprovoked attacks on law enforcement that’s just responding to calls. That’s not the answer to any of the concerns that anybody has out there ... it’s not to attack the police, which is the first line of defense. That’s not going to help in any way.
Holmes Beach Police Chief William Tokajer
After the Dallas police shootings, support poured in from the Manatee County community to local law enforcement agencies. Community leaders, religious leaders and residents called and offered their prayers and thoughts. People brought in fruits, doughnuts and other sweets.
More than 50 people showed support for law enforcement officers last Tuesday evening outside the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office station in Bradenton at a gathering hosted by the West Florida LEO Wives. It was a small way for the group made up of law enforcement officers’ wives, girlfriends and significant others to take part in “Back the Blue,” a public awareness campaign dedicated to displaying public support for law enforcement throughout the United States.
“All week long, since the Dallas shootings, we’ve had people sending cards, sending emails, coming by the districts bringing food,” Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Sandra McIver told a Herald reporter at the event. “It’s nice to know people are behind law enforcement. It’s like I tell all my guys, it’s only a small percentage of the population that doesn’t like us. It’s all the other ones that do like us, is why we do our job.”
After hearing about the shootings in Dallas, Parrish boy Jackson Keefe delivered 20 thank-you cards for the officers of the Palmetto Police Department and more to law enforcement officers in his neighborhood.
Palmetto Police Chief Scott Tyler said he was horrified and upset by Sunday’s fatal shootings in Louisiana.
“I’m sure that those sentiments are shared by law enforcement across the country,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to our colleagues in Baton Rouge and across the country.”
Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan said in an email statement that, with the final Dallas police officer being laid to rest Sunday, members of her agency received instruction to remove the mourning bands from across their badges.
“The tragic events that are still unfolding in Baton Rouge have reversed this order. With three officers dead and three more in serious/critical condition, we react with shock and sadness at a time when we are still grasping for answers and grieving over the fallen Dallas officers,” Bevan said. “These senseless and unconscionable murders strike us at our core and impact not only those of us in uniform, but also our families and communities in ways we cannot ignore.”
Over in Holmes Beach, Tokajer said his agency has had a lot of people who have reached out to thank them for what we do.
I’m horrified and upset and I’m sure that those sentiments are shared by law enforcement across the country. Our thoughts and prayers go out to our colleagues in Baton Rouge and across the country.
Palmetto Police Chief Scott Tyler
“We’ve been blessed to have a community that does appreciate their law enforcement in Holmes Beach,” he said.
Tokajer added that “it’s definitely terrible times” in the United States.
“The attacks on law enforcement in Dallas and, now in Baton Rouge, are unprovoked attacks on law enforcement that’s just responding to calls,” the Holmes Beach police chief said, describing them as cowardly acts by people. “That’s not the answer to any of the concerns that anybody has out there ... it’s not to attack the police, which is the first line of defense. That’s not going to help in any way.”