Three people were arrested this week in connection to a plot thought to be a retaliation against police officers in Baton Rouge, reports said.
The arrests come at a time of heightened tension after a spate of deadly police shootings of black men in Baton Rouge, Minnesota and Asheville, and an ambush on Dallas police that killed five officers last week.
Police uncovered the alleged plot while responding to a weekend burglary at a pawn shop, Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie said at a news conference Tuesday. Three suspects were arrested, and six handguns and a BB gun pistol were recovered. A fourth suspect remains at large, and two firearms are still on the street, police said, the Times-Picayune reported.
The first suspect told police "the reason the burglary was being done was to harm police officers" the chief said. The suspect didn’t offer details about when or where a possible plot would be carried out, per the The Associated Press.
"We have been questioned repeatedly over the last several days about our show of force and why we have the tactics that we have. Well, this is the reason, because we had credible threats against the lives of law enforcement in this city," the chief said.
State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson said information regarding the plot revealed "an actual, credible threat" against police.
On July 5, Baton Rouge police officers shot and killed Alton Sterling as he was selling CDs outside a convenience store. Police had received a call claiming a man was outside the store threatening the caller with a gun. Officers tased, then tackled Sterling, and shot him four to six times.
In the first few days after Sterling’s death, hundreds gathered outside the convenience store where Sterling died in moderately peaceful protests, but tensions escalated over the weekend as police began a show of force that included wielding batons, carrying long guns and wearing shields, the AP reported.
About 200 protesters were arrested in Baton Rouge over a three day period.
Dadabie said police responding to the protests were dressed in riot gear and armed with automatic weapons because of a concerns that members of the crowd might be armed with the intent to harm police officers.
In his first appearance to the press since his father's death, Cameron Sterling has called for peaceful protest.
"Protest in peace, not guns," Cameron, 15, said Wednesday outside the convenience store where his father was shot.