Police: Gunman who killed 3 Baton Rouge cops was 'seeking out' officers
BATON ROUGE, LA. >> A former Marine dressed in black and carrying extra ammunition set out to ambush police in Baton Rouge, authorities said Monday, a day after three law enforcement officers were killed in the attack.
The gunman's "movements, his direction, his attention was on police officers," state police Col. Mike Edmonson said. He would not elaborate but said the shooter was definitely "seeking out" police.
Three other officers were wounded Sunday, one critically. The gunman was identified as Gavin Long of Kansas City, Missouri, who was black. He turned 29 on the day of the ambush and was killed in a gunbattle with police.
In online posts, a man using an alias of Long's said protests alone do not work, and that people must fight back after the deaths of black men at the hands of police.
Documents show that Long sought to change his name last year to Cosmo Setepenra. A website using that name links to online books about nutrition, self-awareness and empowerment. The man describes himself as a "freedom strategist, mental game coach, nutritionist, author and spiritual advisor."
In a video posted July 10, the person making the post says he's speaking from Dallas after five police officers were fatally shot there during a protest of the deaths of black men in encounters with law enforcement. The man also discusses protests in Baton Rouge and what he perceived as oppression.
He says: "You've got to fight back. That's the only way a bully knows to quit." In an earlier video, the man says that if anything ever happens to him, he doesn't want to be linked to any groups and mentioned once belonging to Nation of Islam.
In documents seeking the name change, Long also referred to himself as a member of a black separatist group known as the Washitaw Nation.
The attack unfolded less than two weeks after Baton Rouge police fatally shot a black man in a confrontation that reverberated nationwide.
Edmonson also confirmed that investigators have interviewed people with whom the shooter had contact in Baton Rouge. He would not say how many or give details and stressed that the interviews do not mean that those people were involved in the shooting. He urged anyone else with information about Long to come forward.
The shooting less than a mile from police headquarters added to the tensions across the country between the black community and police. It was the fourth high-profile deadly encounter in the United States involving police over the past two weeks. In all, the violence has cost the lives of eight officers, including those in Baton Rouge, and two civilians and sparked a national debate over race and policing.
Long served in the Marines from 2005 to 2010, reaching the rank of sergeant. He deployed to Iraq from June 2008 to January 2009, according to military records.
While in the military, Long was awarded several medals, including one for good conduct, and received an honorable discharge. His occupational expertise was listed as "data network specialist."
Although he was believed to be the only person who fired at officers, authorities were investigating whether he had any help.
"We are not ready to say he acted alone," state police spokesman Major Doug Cain said Sunday.