Vigil held as protesters demand justice for Alton Sterling

Vigil draws throngs of people

BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - A vigil was planned Wednesday for a man who was shot by Baton Rouge police after someone called 911 and reported that he had a gun.

The shooting happened early Tuesday morning, and the FBI has said it will investigate. Gov. John Bel Edwards called for calm as residents gathered at the shooting scene to demand justice.

Many were giving thanks for cellphone video that surfaced hours after 37-year-old Alton Sterling was shot. Protesters braved stifling heat to sound off about the shooting.

"If they stop now, this will be swept under the rug," protester Regina Adams warned. "This could be your daughter, your son, anybody's child."

The cellphone video shows two Baton Rouge police officers approaching, then tackling Sterling, telling him not to move. They were answering an anonymous tip that Sterling, who was selling CD's in front of the Triple S Food Mart in north Baton Rouge, had pulled a gun on someone earlier and told them to get off the property.

The struggle between the two officers and Sterling escalated, and one of the officers fired several shots. Sterling died of gunshot wounds to the back and the chest.

"It's a horrible thing that happened," said Sandra Sterling, Alton's aunt. "He didn't deserve that. I thank the person who brought the video up."

The mother of Sterling's 15-year-old son says she now has to raise the boy alone.

"He is the oldest of the siblings," Quinyetta McMillan said at a Wednesday morning news conference with community leaders. "He had to watch this."

At a separate news conference, Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie, Jr. reported his department had relinquished control of the shooting investigation to the U.S. Department of Justice. He also said he has no intention of resigning, despite intense criticism from protesters.

Gov. Edwards held his own meeting with reporters. "At this time I'm asking for leaders in the faith community to work with me to make sure we are calm and peaceful," he said.

A makeshift memorial was set up near the spot where Sterling was killed, and an artist had begun painting a mural of Sterling's face on the side of the food mart.

Notably absent was any police presence. Baton Rouge police said they are staged nearby in case they are needed.

Church leaders urged protesters to remain peaceful, but many people on the scene were frustrated and angry, including Sterling's pastor, who spoke earlier in the day.

"It's common sense when you can see it on the film," said Pastor Carl Williams. "There's nothing you have to check out and see what's going on, you don't have to investigate this problem here, it's so simple - the phone has investigated it already. The phone has told the story already, so what is to be investigated about it?"

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