Two officers struck as bullets fly at suspected BR ‘drug house’

Soon after a stun grenade exploded outside a north Baton Rouge home Wednesday night, bullets burst through the front door, striking two police officers preparing to serve a high-risk search warrant at the suspected drug house, police said.

Shrapnel struck one officer in the leg, and a bullet hit another officer in the chest, although a bullet-proof vest limited his injury to a bruise, said Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, a Baton Rouge police spokesman.

On Thursday, police arrested the accused shooter, 18-year-old Patrick Lathan, and booked him into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on five counts of attempted first-degree murder of a police officer and illegal use of a weapon. A judge set his bail at $110,000, booking records show.

The incident happened at about 9:30 p.m. at a home in the 1300 block of North 36th Street, McKneely said.

At least five police officers approached the home’s front door as additional officers, some members of the department’s Special Response Team, staked out the rear of the home.

When one officer near the front set off a stun grenade, gunshots broke through the home’s front door.

The police did not return fire, McKneely said, but soon entered the home and searched it without finding any drugs inside.

McKneely said officers did not shoot back because they didn’t have a clear shot.

“They didn’t want to just randomly shoot into the house,” McKneely said. “You just never know what’s on the other side.”

The undercover officer struck in the chest has worked for the department for six years, McKneely said, while the other officer has done so for 18 years.

Police initially took several people into custody. But Lanthan, 13830 Brittany Court, Baton Rouge, was the only one arrested, McKneely said.

Police serve high-risk warrants like Wednesday’s on a weekly basis, McKneely said.

In 2005, Baton Rouge police officer Terry L. Melancon Jr., a four-year department veteran, was shot and killed during a similar drug bust.