Three Baton Rouge police officers were killed and three more were injured on Sunday by a suspect identified as a former U.S. Marine sergeant. The suspect reportedly ambushed the police officers behind a store while they were responding to a report of a man armed with an assault rifle before 9 a.m. on Sunday morning.
The attacker, dressed in black and carrying extra ammunition, was killed after a gunfight with law enforcement lasting about eight minutes, according to Reuters. Long “certainly was seeking out police,” Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said Monday, according to the Associated Press. “His movements, his direction, his attention was on police officers,” Edmonson said.
Who Was the Shooter?
The suspect has been identified as Gavin Eugene Long, 29, a former Marine from Kansas City, Mo. According to the Associated Press, Long’s military records show he served from 2005 to 2010, deploying in Iraq from June 2008 to January 2009. A spokesman confirmed to the AP that Long briefly attended the University of Alabama in 2012.
In videos, photographs and messages reportedly posted online using the alias “Cosmo Setepenra” or simply “Cosmo,” a web user with an email address associated with Long denounces recent shootings of black men by police. Baton Rouge itself erupted in protests after 37-year-old Alton Sterling was shot to death on July 5 by a police officer, an incident that was captured in a cell-phone video later posted online. “Cosmo” reportedly urged black men viewing his online videos to make sacrifices for their race. “You gotta fight back,” he allegedly said in one post, according to the Guardian.
Two other individuals were detained briefly following Sunday’s shooting, but they were released without charge. Authorities now believe Long acted alone.
Who Were the Officers?
Three officers have been confirmed dead, and another three were injured in the ambush.
The deceased officers have been named as Matthew Gerald, 42, Brad Garafola, 45, and Montrell Jackson, 32. Jackson, a black officer, had recently posted a heartfelt Facebook message about his experiences as a patrolman in Baton Rouge amid heightened tensions following Sterling’s killing.
The AP cited a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office identifying two of the police officers injured in the attack as deputies Nicholas Tullier, 41, and Bruce Simmons, 51. Tullier, an 18-year veteran of the force, was in critical condition, spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks told the AP.
What Has the Reaction Been?
Reuters reports that Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards called the shootings an “unspeakable, heinous attack.”
“There simply is no place for more violence. That doesn’t help anyone, it doesn’t further the conversation, it doesn’t address any injustice, perceived or real. It is just an injustice in and of itself,” Edwards told reporters.
The shooting is the second time in two weeks that U.S. police officers have been targeted, amid heightened tensions from recent killings of black men by police. Another veteran, Micah Johnson, targeted police in Dallas overseeing a Black Lives Matter rally in the city on July 8, killing five officers.
President Obama in a statement Sunday said the incidents targeting police were “attacks on public servants, on the rule of law and on civilized society, and they have to stop.”
“These attacks are the work of cowards who speak for no one. They right no wrongs. They advance no causes,” Obama said.