Officers Involved in Fatal Shooting of Alton Sterling Identified as Criminal Investigation Announced

Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II have been placed on administrative leave

Photo: Alton Sterling/Facebook

The names of the two officers who were involved in Tuesday’s fatal shooting of 37-year-old Louisiana man Alton Sterling were revealed on Wednesday.

Blane Salamoni, a four-year veteran of the department, and Howie Lake II, a three-year veteran, have been placed on administrative leave, PEOPLE confirms.

Both men will be the focus of a federal criminal investigation that will be overseen by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New Orleans Division, the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana, United States Attorney Walt Green announced in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

Sterling was shot at 12:35 a.m. on Tuesday when Salamoni and Lake responded to a call from an anonymous complainant who said a black man selling CDs in front of a convenience store had allegedly threatened him with a gun, according to a statement from Baton Rouge police.

A 48-second long video taken by a witness that has circulated widely online shows the two officers telling Sterling to get on the ground outside a convenience store. One of them quickly tackles him to the ground while the other officer yells, “He’s got a gun! Gun!” before firing his weapon at Sterling.

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Veda Washington, Sterling’s aunt, tells PEOPLE that when she first found out about Sterling’s death, “I screamed because I knew this shouldn’t have happened.”

“The police are supposed to protect and serve,” she says, adding, “They harassed him and they murdered him.”

She says Alton was known for selling CDs, which she says he’d been doing for about 15 years: “That’s how he supported his family.”

At a Wednesday press conference, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said the federal government would take the lead in the investigation.

Sterling is on the sex offender registry in Louisiana after a 2000 conviction for carnal knowledge of a juvenile, according to online records. He was released in 2004.

At an earlier press conference, Quinyetta McMillan, the mother of one of Sterling’s children, 15-year-old Cameron Sterling, said, “If we can reflect on the measure of a man, it should not be judged on his past.”

Messages left for East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore were not returned Wednesday.

According to The Advocate of Baton Rogue, Moore said both officers were interviewed in the presence of their attorneys, and “believe they were completely justified in using deadly force.”

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