MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Monday condemned the slaying of three police officers in Louisiana, dubbing the shootings a "despicable act."
Biden, who made the comments during a speech at a Boeing factory he is visiting in Australia, said while the details and motive behind the killings remain unclear, the public owes police officers in general a debt of gratitude for putting their lives on the line.
"It's a despicable act and it's an attack on our very way of life at home," Biden told a crowd at the Boeing facility.
The slayings occurred in the city of Baton Rouge, less than two weeks after a black man was fatally shot by police there in a confrontation that sparked protests across the country. The officers had been investigating a report of a man with an assault rifle when they were killed. Three other officers were wounded, one critically. Police said the gunman was killed at the scene.
"My enduring thanks for every police officer who gets up in the morning and goes out on that night shift. And they look for one thing — they kiss their wife good-bye or their husband and they want to go home and tuck in their kids," Biden said. "They have a right to do that. They have a right to be able to be protected and we owe them big."
Biden is in Australia as part of a tour of the Pacific. Prior to his speech, he met with Boeing workers and toured the multi-million dollar factory, which manufactures wing flaps for the Dreamliner 787 aircraft.
Biden will fly to Sydney later Monday to meet with business leaders and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. On Wednesday, he travels to New Zealand.