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Hundreds gathered at Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge to celebrate the lives and mourn the loss of Officer Matthew Gerald, Deputy Brad Garafola, and Cpl. Montrell Jackson. State and federal leaders spoke at the vigil saying the greatest moments often come after the darkest times.

“We cannot let this tragedy define us, but it can direct us as we move forward. It can push us to do better,” Governor John Bel Edwards said.

Vice President Joe Biden spoke about the importance of community policing and addressed the struggle of doing so when law enforcement budgets get slashed year after year. He says one thing we can do, both police and citizens, is get to know one another as people.

“We’ve got to close the distance, not just in Baton Rouge but all across America, between the neighborhood and law enforcement. We did it before, and it worked,” Biden said.

The wives of the three fallen officers also spoke during the vigil ceremony. Tonja Garafola, the widow of Deputy Brad Garafola, says these heroes did not deserve this, but...

“God will strengthen, comfort, and get us through this tragedy, as I know we now have three guardian angels to watch over us. They will never be forgotten, and they will always be our heroes,” Garafola said.

 
 
 
 

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Michelle Southern reporting.
Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson is asking voters to support a proposed constitutional amendment this fall that establishes a property tax exemption for surviving members of a fallen first responder. He says a vote in favor of proposed amendment number 4 would be something that Louisianians can do to help these families in their time of great need.


"We feel helpless sometimes when we watch all these tragedies play out on the news with our law enforcement," said Johnson.

Johnson says it would apply to the family home of the spouses of any member of the armed forces, National Guard or a law enforcement or fire protection officer killed in the line of duty.

He says with so many tragedies occurring in recent months, passing an amendment like this would be the least we could do for those families of those who protect and serve.

"I know a little bit about that tragedy that these families face," said Johnson. "Certainly when they lose a loved one there are all sorts of financial stresses and other problems that the families face in the aftermath."

Johnson noted that tragedies like this really hit home for Louisiana as the state has the second highest number of officer deaths this year over last. He says the amendment on the ballot November 8th would provide some tax relief for those families and be a small, but important gesture.

"This says that they matter and we stand with those who are willing to be brave enough to go out and stand for all of us," said Johnson.
 
 
 
 

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Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton will accept her party's nomination at the Democratic National Convention tonight in Philadelphia. LSU Political Science Professor Bob Mann says the tone Clinton sets in her speech will be important, because not many people trust her.

“It’s about telling her story. It’s about presenting herself in a way that perhaps she hasn’t before, being vulnerable, for example, in a way that she hasn’t before. Opening herself up a little bit.”

Mann says to the public, Clinton is often seen as emotionally closed down. But he says there is another personal, caring side to her that people usually don’t see.

“She’s got to be able to show that herself and not just have people like her husband and all these other people that she’s interacted with testify on her behalf, they’ve got to see it from her.”

Mann says it would be wise for Clinton to own up to her mistakes during her speech. He says the former First Lady needs to reiterate that America is a great country already, unlike Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign slogan.

“To suggest that the United States isn’t a great country almost comes across as unpatriotic to a lot of people. She seems to take advantage of the fact the Republican Convention was really about disparaging the United States.”

 
 

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A Baton Rouge man is facing felony charges after threatening to harm US Senate candidate David Duke and claiming he would kill people for the death of Alton Sterling. State Police Sgt. Jared Sandifer says 22-year-old Anthony Moore made the threats in two separate YouTube videos posted earlier this month.

“In those videos he threatened violence against law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge. He also threatened violence against David Duke if he happened to run for senator,” Sandifer said.

Moore said in one video, “If David Duke comes senator for Louisiana, bro, I am killing this man.” Sandifer says when detectives brought Moore in for an interview, he admitted to posting the videos.

“Based off of his words and his actions in those videos, our troopers secured an arrest warrant and actually charged him with cyberstalking and terrorizing,” Sandifer said.

In the videos, Moore also makes threats like “I don’t know you, dude, but I’m stepping for you…cause y’all wrong for that.” Sandifer says this was in reference to the Alton Sterling shooting.

“His words were quite clear in what his actions were going to be, and he threatened violence through those words, and some of it was in possible retaliation to the Baton Rouge police shooting,” Sandifer said.

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Each of the families of the three fallen Baton Rouge police officers will receive $250-thousand from the Law Enforcement Officers and Firemen’s Survivors Fund. Attorney General Jeff Landry is the chairman of the fund’s review board. He says each child of the officers will receive $25-thousand and the chance to attend college.

“There’s also a separate statute that will grant the children of those slain officers the ability to attend any public university in Louisiana tuition free,” Landry said.

Landry says nothing can replace their lost loved ones, but this will hopefully help to bring them some financial relief. He says they should receive lump sum checks in just a few weeks, once they get all the documents from the courts and police.

“Once those documents are received and ORM reviews them, they’ll approve it, we’ll call another meeting, and the checks will be issued immediately thereafter,” Landry said.

Landry says he called a special meeting of the board to get these benefits to the families as soon as possible.

“We felt that it was necessary to call a special meeting- we weren’t scheduled to meet again until October- to move those benefits forward,” Landry said.

 
 
 
 

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Many Saints fans are expected to make their way to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, where the Black and Gold are holding training camp today. The region was hit with devastating flooding about a month ago, but Kristy Godby with the Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau, says the area has recovered.

“It’s not still flooded, and we are still here, and we really hope you come down and visit us, but sometimes in people’s heads that’s all they think of is the floods,” Godby said.

Godby says the Greenbrier Hotel and all the hotels in nearby Lewisburg are open and ready to welcome fans. She says there’s lots of good food in the area and plenty to do after the practices.

“There’s good shopping in downtown Lewisburg. It’s just a really nice walkable little town for everybody to spend some time in. We’ve got some caves. We’ve got some hiking trails at the Greenbrier State Forest,” Godby said.

This is the third year the Saints have held their camp at the Greenbrier, and Godby says they expect this year to be bigger and better than the previous years. She says attendees should prepare to have a lot of fun.

“It’s such a unique experience to be able to be that close to NFL players. If you haven’t been, you don’t realize just how close you are,” Godby said.

 
 
 

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LSU Football Coach Les Miles hits on a variety of topics during his annual speech before the Baton Rouge Rotary Club. State Police Col. Mike Edmonson, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, and Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie were in attendance and Coach Les Miles talked openly about the tragic shooting of three law enforcement officers and had this to say about the shooter.

“We have a special place here and we don’t want to lose it. We certainly don’t want some son of a ----, son of somebody from another city, I do know the name of the city and I do know the name of the dumb ass, but I want you to know he does not define us. That man he had his own agenda, his agenda was militaristic. Let me tell you something, he died in anonymity to me.”

Miles also hit on some light hearted topics, including reliving some of his childhood memories. The Mad Hatter talked about the day he was beat up by his elementary school bully, Bobby Piper, who kept stealing his lunch money.

“Bobby Piper comes up to me and says okay give me the money and I said no, he says you know what’s going to happen now right. I can tell you I didn’t throw a punch. And he went pow and I went thunk and I land on the ground. He takes my shoes off, throws them in the water and in my vinyl jacket, he shoves me in the ditch.”

Miles commented on the status of kicker Colby Delahoussaye, who was in a tragic car accident in Wisconsin where two people died. He says the senior from New Iberia will have to go through rehabilitation, but his injuries won’t threaten his football career.

“But I don’t think his injuries are going to consume his time so he’ll take some time to get healthy but he’ll be fine. Obviously he’s been through some real trauma.”

 
 

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Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said the dialogue has to change about shootings involving police. Normand made the statement, after one of his deputies shot 17-year-old Devon Martes on Tuesday night where Martes’s gun misfired when he tried to shoot the deputy after a brief chase. Normand says his deputy, David Dalton, is lucky to be alive.

“Devon Martes is not the victim. Devon Martes pulled the trigger on the gun and tried to kill one of my officers. But for the fact that the gun malfunctioned, I might have a dead officer,” Normand said.

Normand says the deputy faced off with Martez after the suspect was caught stealing tire rims. He showed pictures from Martes’ Facebook of him holding a gun and drugs and listed off highlights from the suspect’s rap sheet.

“At age 14 distribution of schedule I narcotics, plead guilty. At age 15 armed robbery, plead guilty. At age 16 criminal trespass, plead guilty,” Normand said.

Normand says that he keeps hearing that we need to develop trust between police and the public, but he says trust is a two way street. He says it’s bilateral, not unilateral.

“The dialogue that I’m hearing is that government actors are the ones who need to do all the reaching out. I keep hearing that we have to go back to community policing. I didn’t know that we abandoned it,” Normand said.

 
 
 

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State Police have arrested a Catholic Priest in St. Martin Parish on child pornography charges. Trooper Brooks David says the Special Victims Unit received a complaint alleging that a computer belonging to Father Felix David Broussard contained disturbing images of juveniles.

“Our investigative unit started looking into that complaint and during that investigation located over 500 images of child pornography,” David said.

David says the 50-year-old Priest was placed under arrest and booked into the St. Martin Parish jail on 500 counts of child pornography. He says their investigation into Father Broussard’s criminal behavior continues.

“Our investigators are going to keep looking into this case until they are sure that there’s nothing else that they need to go further with,” David said.

The Diocese of Lafayette says they take these allegations very seriously and is cooperating fully with the investigation. Father Broussard has been placed on administrative leave and will not be allowed to preach at St. Bernard Parish. David says Broussard could spend a long time in jail, if convicted.

“It’s a felony, and you’re looking at over 500 counts so it’s a severe punishment. That would be up to the Justice Department to look at that and decide the punishment,” David said.

 
 
 
 

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The 2014 viral phenomenon known as the “Ice Bucket Challenge” actually led to a scientific breakthrough towards finding a cure for ALS. Director of the ALS Association of Louisiana, Kelly Viator, says awareness attributes to dollars raised.

“From those dollars the ALS Association was able to contribute $1 million to Project MinE, which is the lead in this effort,” Viator said.

Through those donations, Project MinE has identified a gene that’s connected to the disease, which will help develop new targeted therapy to treat ALS. Viator says all the small donations can make a big difference.

“Every dollar counts. More specifically as it relates to Ice Bucket, every drop adds up,” Viator said.

An estimated 15 million people took the challenge, raising more than $115 million for ALS research. Viator says as effective as the Ice Bucket Challenge was, she doesn’t see it being repeated anytime soon.

“It was organic. It wasn’t anything that was created. It just happened naturally, and as hard as many people have tried to create something like that, it just won’t happen,” Viator said.

 
 
 

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We are starting to see more endorsements in the U.S. Senate race. Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer is officially backing State Treasurer John Kennedy and Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain has endorsed Congressman Charles Boustany.

Political Analyst Clancy Dubos says Strain being a current statewide elected official will be beneficial to Boustany.

“Boustany is mostly known in southwest Louisiana whereas Strain comes from the Florida Parishes, very well-known and very popular in the rural areas, that’s a significant endorsement.”

Dubos says endorsements do help when the field is this crowded with 24 candidates in the race. He says although Roemer’s endorsement helps Kennedy, he has been out of politics since 1992.

“So his endorsement probably doesn’t mean as much and he is the person who brought Kennedy into the political game so it’s not a surprise. It certainly helps but I don’t think it contributes as much.”

Outgoing Senator David Vitter has yet to make an official endorsement for his seat but Dubos says it’s obvious who he supports.

“All indications right now are that he’s behind Kennedy. A lot of his key staff people are already with Kennedy. I think there is already a pretty big signal out there that Vitter is backing Kennedy.”

 
 

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Louisiana ranks second for the number of police officers killed in the line of duty this year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. President and CEO, Craig Floyd, says seven Louisiana officers have been killed in the line of duty in 2016. He says we need to have more respect for our officers.

“We need to appreciate the fact that these men and women are out there serving and protecting, putting their lives at risk every day for our safety and our protection,” Floyd said.

Four of the officer deaths were by gunfire, two by vehicular assault, and one in a car accident. The report shows firearms related fatalities spiked 78% nationwide this year. Floyd says police officers interact with the public 62 million times a year, most of the time without incident.

“Of those 62 million contacts between the police and the public, force is either used or threatened by police less than 2% of the time,” Floyd said.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is working to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the public. Floyd says officers have better equipment and better training than they used to. He says more officers are using fewer lethal weapon and choosing items like Tasers to detain suspects, which gives them options other than kill or be killed.

“Taser stun guns have been proved to reduce the injuries to officers and to the criminal suspects that they deal with dramatically,” Floyd said.

 
 
 
 

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Today at the Democratic National Convention, pro-life Democrats will honor Governor John Bel Edwards with the Governor Casey Whole Life Leadership Award. Executive Director of Democrats for Life of America, Kristen Day, says Governor Casey was a pro-life governor of Pennsylvania who also advocated for women’s rights and higher minimum wage, so Governor Edwards was a clear choice for the award.

“We look for people like that that don’t feel the pressure to change and stick by their guns and maintain their ideals to protect all life,” Day said.

Day says Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the south, and she thinks that has a lot to do with him being pro-life. She says one in three Democrats identify as pro-life, but there are even more who support pro-life policies and want to see abortion safe, legal and rare.

“Even if you look at the number of just people who are pro-life, at 32% that’s about 21 million Democrats across the country,” Day said.

Day says Edwards’ election last fall shows that Democrats can get behind pro-life candidates. She says Southern states lean towards the Republican Party, but Democrats like Edwards, who are pro-life, can help strengthen the Democratic Party in the South.

“We’re a minority party, and the way to rebuild and build back up our numbers is to be an inclusive party, and that means including pro-life Democrats,” Day said.

 
 
 
 

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Tonight’s Powerball Jackpot is a whopping $422-million. Louisiana Lottery Spokesperson Kim Chopin says this jackpot has been growing since May 7th when it was last hit at 430 million dollars, which was the 5th largest Powerball jackpot.

“So we’re looking at two top 10 Powerball jackpots back to back, really giving players those big jackpots they really like.”

The cash value for tonight’s grand prize is $291-million. Chopin says even if you don’t win the jackpot, there are other Powerball prizes to be won. She says you can win a prize just for matching the red Powerball number.

“During this particular run, we have had some really big winners, we’ve had 5 people win $50,000, we’ve had one person match all 5 white ball numbers and win $1 million.”

Chopin reminds players who are buying a large number of tickets, with coworkers or friends, there are some good guidelines to follow. She says have a written record that shows who’s in and how much they contributed.

“Be aware that only one legal entity or person can claim a prize, the tax liability can be split up but you may want to talk about that a little bit in advance.”

 
 

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The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors has chosen former state legislator and attorney Rick Gallot as the new president at Grambling State. Gallot says the connections he made as a legislator could help the university tremendously.

“Just having access to the people who can get things done, I think, makes a world of difference,” Gallot said.

The Grambling alumnus replaces Willie Larkins, who resigned nearly a month ago. Gallot says one of the first things he wants to do as president is to restore the university’s undergraduate nursing program, which lost its temporary approval status in 2015.

“That’s one program that for some reason or another leadership sort of took their eye off the ball and allowed that undergraduate program to go into decline,” Gallot said.

Grambling has had somewhat of a revolving door when it comes to its presidents in the past few years, as there have been 10 presidents in the past 25 years. But Gallot says he plans on staying with the university for a long time.

“My ZIP code has been 71245 for 50 years. I’m not going anywhere,” Gallot said.

 
 
 

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The man responsible for last year’s Mardi Gras crash in Lafayette that killed one woman and left three others injured has pled guilty to one count of vehicular homicide and three counts of vehicular injury. 25-year-old Bryce Chapman was driving drunk at over 100 miles per hour and struck Carol Richard’s vehicle. First Assistant District Attorney Daniel Landry says Richard was just on her way home from the grocery store.

“To cook her husband supper and was getting ready to make a turn when the defendant struck her vehicle from the rear causing it to explode and burst into flames.”

Landry says the crash caused Richard’s vehicle to explode and then collided with another vehicle with three people inside. He says Chapman is currently incarcerated, waiting for his sentencing on November 3rd and it’s pretty much up to the judge’s decision now.

“Our input is not considered to the point to where the judge considers the input of the victim’s family and as well as the factors surrounding the accident.”

Landry says Chapman faces up to 30 years in prison. He says Chapman is a first time offender but that likely won’t help his case.

“The fact that he was under the influence of alcohol and particularly the high speed which is a total disregard for the safety of anybody operating a vehicle on the streets.”

 
 
 

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Franklinton Police are searching for a suspect or suspects who broke into 25 vehicles that belong to members of the Louisiana National Guard. Maj. Justin Brown says they believe the thieves hoped over a fence where the cars were parked, while the Guardsmen were training in Slidell.

“While they’re out doing that and their property is at this location, somebody takes it upon themselves to go damage that property and steal from them. So it’s an unspeakable crime. It’s disgraceful,” Brown said.

Brown the thief or thieves stole money, electronic, and personal weapons from the vehicles. He says the secure facility is patrolled regularly.

“It’s surrounded by fence on all sides. All the gates were locked. So whoever gained entry had to jump the fence and circumvent the security that they had,” Brown said.

Brown says there aren’t security cameras in place yet because the facility is still under construction, but there are cameras at the entry points. He says they will continue to investigate until the culprit is behind bars.

“When any crime is committed, that person makes mistakes, and whenever they make mistakes, they leave behind evidence, and that evidence is ultimately what is going to lead to them being caught,” Brown said.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to contact the Franklinton Police Department.

 
 
 
 

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14 deputies from the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office traveled to Dallas to deliver donation checks to two foundations to help the families of the fallen officers who lost their lives in the July 7th attack on police. Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Brennan Matherne says they organized with all the law enforcement agencies in Lafourche Parish and raised over $50,000 on July 16th.

“We got to meet with several Dallas police officers and saw just the outpouring of support that this local community and people from really all over the country have brought to their police headquarters, it was really a humbling experience.”

Matherne says today they dropped off two checks totaling $25,000 to foundations in Dallas. He says the money was raised just in one day and they were completely humbled by the love and support from the community.

“We raised over 50-thousand dollars in cash in 5 hours and I think it’s just a testament to the giving nature of Lafourche Parish and the rapport that we’ve built with our community.”

Matherne says the money raised will go directly to the families of law enforcement officers who were killed or injured in the Dallas attack. He says they plan to do something similar with the other half of the money for the families of the Baton Rouge police officers that were killed or injured on July 17th.

“Taking the other half of the money we raised to donate to the families of those who were injured or killed in the attack on Baton Rouge the day after we held our can shake fundraiser.”

 
 
 

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Oil prices have fallen to a three month low at just over $40 a barrel. That’s a 12% drop just in July. Associate Director of the Tulane Energy Institute, Eric Smith, says he expects prices to continue to go up and come back down. He says there is too much supply to help oil prices rebound completely, and companies keep drilling more.

“There are countries going offline in the Middle East, and that raises the prices. Then somebody increases production in the shale, and that drops the prices,” Smith said.

Smith says some companies jumped the gun and started drilling, expecting prices to rise, but the increase in supply pushed them back down. He says we’ve seen the number of oil rigs increase for the past three or four weeks in a row.

“Every time one of those rigs comes online that is a signal for some trader somewhere to sell oil because he thinks it’s going to be too much for him,” Smith said.

Excess gasoline inventories are even driving gas prices down, which is good news for consumers, but could be devastating to the companies. Smith says eventually oil prices will reach $60 a barrel, but there will be ups and downs along the way.

“The leading indicators are pointing in the right direction, but that still doesn’t say that you won’t see these swings in the oil price,” Smith said.

 
 
 
 

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Disabled veterans will see an increase in their compensation beginning next year thanks to a bill by Congressman Ralph Abraham that has just been signed into law. Abraham says the bill will adjust the amount of compensation veterans receive for disability, dependents, and clothing allowance, as well as compensation for surviving spouses.

“It corrals a lot of things that our veterans have been lacking as far as getting cost of living adjustments on, and this bill puts those all together,” Abraham said.

Abraham says the increase is tied to the social security increase, so we won’t know how much more money these vets will get until the end of November.

“It’s something. I wish it could be more, but at least it’s something, and they certainly deserve it and have earned that right to receive those cost of living adjustments,” Abraham said.

Abraham has been an advocate for veterans since he was elected to Congress in 2014. He says veterans have been failed in a lot of areas by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He says the VA has got to get better.

“It’s got to modernize its equipment. It’s got to hire enough doctors and practitioners to see these veterans so they do not have to wait as they are continuing to do. So we’re pushing, we really are,” Abraham said.

 
 
 
 

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