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Baton Rouge club shooting that injured 12 was ‘targeted attack,’ police say

Dior Bar and Lounge was the scene of an overnight shooting that left a dozen people injured on Sunday in Baton Rouge. (Michael Johnson/ Advocate/AP)

Police in Baton Rouge are looking for at least one gunman after an early Sunday shooting at a nightclub wounded a dozen people, including three with life-threatening injuries.

Officers responded to a shooting at Dior Bar and Lounge at 1:30 a.m. Lt. Bryan Ballard, who commands the Baton Rouge Police Department’s homicide division, referred to the shooting as a “targeted attack” during a news conference Sunday evening.

The shooting was “not just a random act of someone showing up and randomly shooting citizens of Baton Rouge,” Ballard said. Police had not identified any suspects or a motive as of Sunday evening.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy J. Paul Jr. pleaded for anyone with information about who carried out the attack to come forward. He later said that someone was targeted in the shooting and “others were also injured in that process.”

“There’s someone who knows something,” Paul said when urging anyone with information to report it. “Do the right thing.”

The shooting in Louisiana’s capital happened hours after a gunman killed 10 and injured 10 others at a dance studio in Monterey Park, Calif., following a Lunar New Year celebration. The two incidents bring the total number of mass shootings this year to 34, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The organization defines a mass shooting as killing or injuring four or more people, not including the shooter.

Officials said Sunday that they did not know whether more than one shooter was involved at Dior Bar and Lounge, and they did not identify the type of firearm used, citing the ongoing investigation. They also have not released the identities of anyone injured in the shooting.

Three officers were in a parking lot near the nightclub when the shooting occurred, police said.

They responded immediately after seeing people running out of the bar, said Sgt. L’Jean McKneely, a Baton Rouge police spokesperson. Business owners can request a police presence, which is why the officers were nearby, he added.

“We believe their immediate response prevented further injuries,” Paul, the police chief, said in the Sunday evening news conference.

The Baton Rouge incident is the latest major shooting at a nightclub. In November, a gunman killed five and injured more than a dozen others at Club Q, a Colorado Springs nightclub that was thought of a safe space for the area’s LGBTQ community. Charges against the suspect include dozens of counts of hate crimes.

In 2016, 49 people were killed when a gunman attacked the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

For LGBTQ community, Colorado Springs shooting meant ‘safety betrayed’

Shootings at nightclubs, schools, grocery stores and other places Americans frequent affect people’s behaviors and fears about visiting them, said Louis Klarevas, a professor at the Teachers College at Columbia University who researches mass shootings.

About four months after the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Tex., a Pew Research Center survey found that about a third of parents are “very or extremely worried” about a shooting happening at their children’s schools.

“It’s not just going out to a nightclub and celebrating; it could be something as very important to daily life like going to the supermarket,” Klarevas said. “It does affect people’s behavior.”

Following Sunday’s shooting in Baton Rouge, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome said in a statement that officials “will not stop our work until everyone feels safe and individuals no longer turn to guns to resolve their differences.”