Police: Man ambushed police; stood over body, kept shooting

Police documents say a man ambushed officers sent to interview him about a killing hours earlier, then stood over a dead officer's body while continuing to shoot him

A man accused of murder ambushed two officers sent to interview him about a killing hours earlier, then stood over a dead officer’s body while continuing to shoot him, according to police documents released Monday.

Ronnie DeWayne Kato Jr. of Baton Rouge had threatened years earlier to kill police if his girlfriend called them, one statement said.

The second ambushed officer remained in critical condition Monday afternoon but was alert and talking, said Sgt. L'Jean McKneely Jr., a Baton Rouge police spokesman. “So he's doing a lot better” and his condition may be upgraded, he said.

Police released two statements filed for the arrest of 36-year-old Kato, who was taken into custody after a standoff that followed the second shooting Sunday. Police have not identified the officers, describing one as a 21-year law enforcement veteran and the other as a seven-year officer. Their names may be released Tuesday, McKneely said.

Kato was arrested on two counts of murder, six counts of attempted murder, five counts of home invasion and one of aggravated battery. McKneely said he did not know whether Kato has an attorney who could speak for him. Attempts to reach Kato's family members were not successful.

According to the affidavit supporting the first warrant for Kato, his girlfriend of 18 years had taken refuge at her mother's house after an argument, went out because her car horn was beeping and went back in when she saw Kato. He kicked down the door and pistol-whipped her. Her mother stopped him, but he went out and came back in with a rifle, killing a man — one of five adults living there. Police identified the man as Curtis Richardson, 58, news outlets reported.

The second statement said the officers were sent for a “knock and talk” with Kato, and went to the backyard to keep him from escaping that way. One witness saw Kato there just before the shooting and another — a relative — saw him there immediately afterward, the affidavit said.

Evidence, including what appeared to be close-contact wounds, indicated that Kato had stood over the dead officer's body and kept shooting him, the statement said.

It noted that both shootings used the same type of gun and quoted Kato's girlfriend as telling police in 2017 that he would “Gavin Long” police if she filed a report about him.

Gavin Eugene Long was a member of a black anti-government movement who shot six police officers in 2016 in Baton Rouge, killing three and wounding the others. He was arrested after an hourslong standoff in which shots were exchanged with a SWAT team. That ambush occurred two days after a white officer shot and killed a black man in Louisiana's capital.

Kato did not have any known links to such groups, McKneely said.

The threat described in the affidavit is the only indication of possible violence in Kato's criminal history, and the 2017 incident apparently did not result in any charges against him, The Advocate reported. It said East Baton Rouge court records show drug possession cases in 2001 and 2010, with charges dropped in the second case, and a traffic ticket in 2013.

Civil court records also show no signs that Kato’s girlfriend or anyone else had requested temporary protection from abuse, the newspaper reported.

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McConnaughey reported from New Orleans and Lauer from Philadelphia.