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Police: Gunman who killed 3 was ‘seeking out’ officers

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Police guarded the emergency room entrance of Our Lady Of The Lake Medical Center, where wounded officers were brought, in Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday. Multiple law enforcement officers were killed and wounded Sunday morning in a shooting near a gas station in Baton Rouge, less than two weeks after a black man was shot and killed by police here, sparking nightly protests across the city.

BATON ROUGE, La. » A former Marine dressed in black and carrying extra ammunition set out to ambush police in Baton Rouge, authorities said today, 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, identified as 29-year-old Gavin Long of Kansas City, Missouri, was killed at the scene.

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 at the hands of law enforcement. The man also discusses the 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.

The attack unfolded less than two weeks after Baton Rouge police fatally shot a black man in a confrontation that sparked nightly protests that reverberated nationwide.

Edmonson also confirmed that investigators have interviewed people with whom the shooter had contact in Baton Rouge. But 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 who might have 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, who was black, 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.

Although he was believed to be the only person who fired at officers, authorities were investigating whether he had some kind of help.

“We are not ready to say he acted alone,” state police spokesman Major Doug Cain said Sunday. Two “persons of interest” were detained for questioning in the nearby town of Addis. They were later released without any charges being filed.

This morning, businesses around the shooting scene began to reopen. Customers bought coffee and breakfast sandwiches at a B-Quik convenience store. Next door, workers prepared for the day at a car wash where the gunman was cornered.

Businesses at the scene of the gunbattle were scarred with at least eight apparent bullet marks. Investigators examined a hole in a window at a fitness-supply business, and wood covered another window that was shot out.

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.”

Long attended classes at the University of Alabama for one semester in the spring of 2012. A school spokesman said university police had no interactions with him.

He was also briefly enrolled at Clark Atlanta University during the 2012-13 academic year, the school said.

Long sought to change his name last year in a document filed in May 2015 with the recorder of deeds in Jackson County, Missouri.

He also referred to himself as a member of the Washitaw de Dugdahmoundyah, also known as the Washitaw Nation.

The group says it’s a sovereign Native American nation within the boundaries of the U.S. The name-change document ends: “Standing firm on the Ancient Principles of, LOVE, TRUTH, PEACE, FREEDOM AND JUSTICE.”

Authorities initially believed that additional assailants might be at large, but hours later said there were no other active shooters.

The shooting began at a gas station on Airline Highway. According to radio traffic, Baton Rouge police answered a report of a man with an assault rifle and were met by gunfire. For several long minutes, they did not know where it was coming from.

The radio exchanges were made public Sunday by the website Broadcastify.

Nearly 2½ minutes after the first report of an officer getting shot, an officer on the scene is heard saying police do not know the shooter’s location.

Almost 6 minutes pass after the first shots are reported before police say they have determined the shooter’s location. About 30 seconds later, someone says shots are still being fired.

The recording lasts about 17 minutes and includes urgent calls for an armored personnel carrier called a BearCat.

From his window, Joshua Godwin said he saw the suspect, who was dressed in black with a ski mask, combat boots and extra bullets. He appeared to be running “from an altercation.”

Of the two officers who survived the shooting, one was hospitalized in critical condition, and the other was in fair condition. Another officer was being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, hospital officials said.

Two of the slain officers were from the Baton Rouge Police Department: 32-year-old Montrell Jackson, who had been on the force for a decade, and 41-year-old Matthew Gerald, who had been there for less than a year.

The third fatality was Brad Garafola, 45 and a 24-year veteran of the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.

Autopsies on the officers were planned for today, and the corner expected to release preliminary findings later in the day. An autopsy on the suspect was scheduled for Tuesday.

Police-community relations in Baton Rouge have been especially tense since the death of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black man killed by white Baton Rouge officers after a scuffle at a convenience store. The killing was captured on cellphone video.

It was followed a day later by the shooting death of another black man in Minnesota, whose girlfriend livestreamed the aftermath of his death on Facebook. The next day, a black gunman in Dallas opened fire on police at a protest about the police shootings, killing five officers and heightening tensions even further.

Thousands of people protested Sterling’s death, and Baton Rouge police arrested more than 200 demonstrators.

Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington, Rebecca Santana and Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans, Maria Sudekum in Kansas City and Kevin McGill, Cain Burdeau and Gerald Herbert in Baton Rouge contributed to this report.

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  • Trump is implying that this was an ISIS attack. The man had zero to do with ISIS. We have a problem with domestic terrorists of all races. Trump is such a liar and such an incompetent man. He scares me with his silly, self-promotional rhetoric. Does he really believe half of what he says? He is leading white males who lack education astray. Hillary is flawed but she won’t hurt us. Trump will. He is unsteady and an emotional basket case.

    • HiLIARy lied and four men died and you are worried that Mr Trump implied something. Really?? Too bad we can’t ask Vince Foster about her.

        • Try this buddy..IRS, Clinton Foundation, Classified emails, Clinton Cash, White Water and a trail of criminal activity. “Posted directly outside President Clinton’s Oval Office, Former Secret Service uniformed officer Gary Byrne reveals what he observed of Hillary Clinton’s character and the culture inside the White House while protecting the First Family in CRISIS OF CHARACTER, the most anticipated book of the 2016 election.”

        • Poor sarge, relying on empty rhetoric of the GOP. Sarge you have to get out more. Gary Byrne has been totally discredited. High ranking secret service agents and even the including the president of the Association of Former Agents of the United States Secret Service have said that he could not have seen what he purported to see because he was too low ranking. You might be one of the last guys still clinging to this sham book because no one else is.

        • Crisis of Character #1 Beat Seller..Byrne’s book is a gripping read, as he conveys his personal history to join the Secret Service, his time at the White House, and his decision to join the Federal Air Marshals Service. However, it is not an easy read, as it is difficult to learn of how the Clintons and other elite politicos disdainfully treated patriotic Americans such a Byrne, who want only to serve their country.

        • “Clinton Cash”…In 2000, Bill and Hillary Clinton owed millions of dollars in legal debt. Since then, they’ve earned over $130 million. Where did the money come from? Most people assume that the Clintons amassed their wealth through lucrative book deals and high-six figure fees for speaking gigs. Now, Peter Schweizer shows who is really behind those enormous payments.

        • I read 3 officers. This was an attack on the men in blue! This is not a race issue, one officer was black. In Dallas the dead officers included Mexican and Hispanic mix. Are we to blame the U.S. military because these killers were veterans like Timothy McVey. The Oklahoma bomber that killed women and children? NO. We blame hate and mental illness. Oh and assault rifles that are easier to get then handguns.

    • When Allie speaks, people don’t listen. Something like Crooked Clinton groveling around in her toxic waste. If her campaign is the high road can you imagine if she took the low road? Allie is proud to be aCrooked Omama supporter.

    • Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi all are GOP states and have the highest amount of police shootings.

      See: http://www.governing.com/gov-data/law-enforcement-fatality-rates-by-state.html

      Why is this?

      There are several reasons:

      > Conservative policies have resulted in the proliferation of firearms, stonewalling calls for better gun control laws by police and progressives like Obama.

      > Due to local budget cuts by conservatives, there has been a reduction in community policing and increased reliance on predatory civil fines and asset forfeitures to fund police departments. This taking of money from people who are poor and struggling, to pay for conservative tax cuts, has bred resentment.

      > Conservatives have supported policies and funding to militarize the police.

      > Conservatives at all levels have refused to invest adequate resources in poor communities, including jobs initiatives that would benefit young African American men. (Meanwhile they vote to spend lavishly on the security state).

      > Conservative policies have resulted in disproportionately harsh outcomes for African-Americans who have contact with the criminal justice system (compared to European-Americans with the same conduct).

      I think the main problem we have are too many conservatives and white-supremacists who have been obsessed with blaming Obama for all America’s problems, including the growing anger in neglected African-American communities, while doing everything they can to see him fail. These groups, more that any others, are responsible for the increased racial tensions in the mainland.

      The police and the poor minority communities are the real victims in all this, shouldering the real impacts of harsh conservative policies. The vast majority of them are good people, struggling to do their best each day.

      Can things get worse? You bet. With poor leadership at the state and local levels, and with a Republican Congress that insists on flooding the nation with guns and yet refuses to adequately help poor communities, we could finally see the numbers of police killed on the job begin to rise again.

      Perhaps we are already past that point.

      • The most pathetic part of all this is that right-wing Evangelical GOP conservatives who have maintained a tight grip on power throughout the southern states, who have opposed gun control, and who have preached the gospel of personal responsibility, have been so reluctant to take responsibility for their leadership, and so quick to blame Obama and federal government for the pervasive poverty, violence and racial tensions in their communities.

        Can you say “hypocrite”?

    • Flawed? That’s an understatement. The same black people she panders for votes are the super predators of today.
      “Is Hillary Clinton really the kind of candidate who will rally progressives and the black community behind her when she refers to urban youth as “super predators” with “no conscience, no empathy”?

  • What a surprise. The shooter is BLACK! Go to CBS.com and view it. I thought he was going to be a white marine. Curious why he shot his own kind. Crazy.

  • The Federal government has limited impact on local crime or police work. Conditions in our communities are the primary responsibility of state and local governments and their policies. For the states with most racial tensions and violence, these are conservative governments.

    The main Federal policies that would have reduced local violence are stricter gun controls, job creation and anti-poverty efforts. Obama and Democrats pushed for these but were repeatedly blocked by right wing republicans.

    Conservatives refuse to take responsibility for their failed policies, and instead blame Obama.

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