Police have said they have no indication the fatal shooting of Louisiana State University student Allison was the result of gang violence.
The Baton Rouge Police Department held a press conference Thursday on the murder of 21-year-old Rice, who was found shot dead inside her car on Government Street at around 2am on 16 September.
“There’s a lot of things being looked at that I’m not going to go over right now. I do understand that there was a rumour going around that this was some kind of gang initiation and this was a targeted attack. We have zero indication that that is the case,” Chief Murphy Paul said.
The FBI, the DEA and the ATF have joined the investigation. Authorities believe Rice was shot multiple times while waiting for a train to pass as she returned home from a gathering with friends. A motive behind the attack has not been established.
The press conference to address the rising crime in Baton Rouge came a day after the senior marketing student at LSU was laid to rest. Her killing has shaken the community, with more than 500 people attending her funeral, her father Paul Rice told Fox News.
Although police have not found a connection between gang violence and Ms Rice’s killing, the presser was called after law enforcement compiled worrying intel about eight gangs currently operating in the city.
“This day, in particular, was selected just yesterday, based on investigative intelligence, which suggests that gun violence between specifically identified gangs in our city are looming,” Mr Paul said.
FBI 2020 data shows that Baton Rouge is one of the cities with the highest homicide rates in Louisiana. According to the World Population Review, the city had a total of 83 homicides in 2019 — a murder rate of 33.5 per 100,000, compared to the national homicide rate of 5 murders per 100,000 people.
Baton Rouge mayor Sharon Weston said Thursday that city officials “can not turn a blind eye to continuous offences by the same groups of individuals.”
“My heart goes out to the family, loved ones, and classmates of Allison Rice, a young LSU student who had her entire life ahead of her,” Ms Weston said last week. “This senseless violence is completely unacceptable and Baton Rouge Police officers are thoroughly investigating to bring the perpetrator to justice.”
Mr Rice told Fox News that law enforcement had finished processing her daughter’s car, which was riddled with bullets by the assailants. The front and driver’s side windows were completely shot out, he said.
Speaking about seeing his daughter’s face at the funeral on Wednesday, Mr Rice told Fox: “She looked so peaceful, and she had a tiny little smirk on her face. You could see that little bit of an Allie smile. You look at her, it’s almost like she’s pretending to be asleep, and you’re waiting for her to open her eyes at any moment.”
“You would never know the child had 10 bullet holes in her.”
On Monday, Mr Rice told The Independent that police have not received any clues that indicate the attack was targeted.
“From what we’re understanding, their best call at the moment is it seems to be a wrong place at the wrong time scenario,” he said.