Baton Rouge, La., police have arrested three individuals after discovering an alleged plot to use guns to shoot police during protests last weekend, Police Chief Carl Dabadie said at a press conference Tuesday, WWL-TV reports.
The alleged plot was uncovered after a pawn shop robbery over the weekend. Investigators say they believe that the suspects stole guns with the intent to use them to kill police officers. Four people, including a 13-year-old, were suspects in the case, and, Dabadie said Tuesday, one suspect was at large.
According to the report, six guns were recovered during the arrests, but two weapons were missing.
One of the suspects apprehended told authorities that the weapons were being taken to use to harm police officers during protests against police brutality following the deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minn., officials said.
"We took this as a very viable threat," Dabadie said. "We have received questions as to why we used such a show of force during weekend protests; this is why."
After the plan was uncovered, and in light of the recent slayings of police officers in Dallas, East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux acknowledged that the department did heavily equip its officers for the protests.
As the news station notes, critics questioned officers' riot gear and weapons. However, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards defended the officers' rights to protect themselves, citing the attack in Dallas. Edwards said that a Baton Rouge officer had teeth knocked out by a rock thrown by protesters, and that unless officers used riot gear, "you have no defense against that sort of thing."
Edwards said he was pleased with police response to the protests, in which almost 200 people were detained, calling the response "moderate."
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