A former Marine dressed in black and carrying extra ammunition ambushed police in Baton Rouge, shooting and killing three law enforcement officers less than two weeks after a black man was fatally shot by police there in a confrontation that sparked nightly protests that reverberated nationwide.
CCTV America’s Jessica Stone reports.
Baton Rouge gunman ‘was seeking out’ police officersA former Marine dressed in black and carrying extra ammunition ambushed police in Baton Rouge, shooting and killing three law enforcement officers less than two weeks after a black man was fatally shot by police there in a confrontation that sparked nightly protests that reverberated nationwide. CCTV America's Jessica Stone reports.
Three other officers were wounded Sunday, one critically. Police said the gunman was killed at the scene.
“His movements, his direction, his attention was on police officers,” state police Col. Mike Edmonson said Monday morning. He would not elaborate but said the gunman “certainly was seeking out police officers,” and he used the word “ambush” to describe the attack.
Edmonson also confirmed that investigators have interviewed people with whom the shooter had contact in Baton Rouge. But Edmonson wouldn’t say how many or give details. He stressed that the interviews don’t mean that those people were involved in the shooting and urged any others who might have had contact with or information about shooter Gavin 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. Last week, a gunman targeted police during a march in Dallas, killing five officers. And just days before the Baton Rouge attack, one of the slain officers had posted an emotional Facebook message about the challenges of police work in the current environment.
President Barack Obama urged Americans to tamp down inflammatory words and actions.
About the Baton Rouge police killer
The man who killed two police officers and a sheriff’s deputy in Baton Rouge was a former Marine sergeant who served in Iraq and had no known ties to any extremist groups.
Gavin Eugene Long, a black man whose last known address was in Kansas City, Missouri, carried out the attack Sunday on his 29th birthday. Police say he was seeking out law enforcement and ambushed them, wounding three other officers before he was killed in the latest in a string of violent incidents involving police.
According to military records, Long was a Marine from 2005 to 2010 and rose to the rank of sergeant. He served in Iraq from June 2008 to January 2009, and records show he received several medals during his military career, including one for good conduct. Long, who received an honorable discharge, was listed as a “data network specialist” in the Marines.
After the Marines, he attended the University of Alabama for one semester, in the spring of 2012, according to university spokesman Chris Bryant. University police had no interaction with Long during that time, Bryant said.
Oren Segal, director of the Center on Extremism for the Anti-Defamation League, said there was no information linking Long to any known extremist group or movement, but the ADL and others were investigating Long’s possible use of aliases.
In Kansas City, police converged on a small turquoise frame house listed under Long’s name. An Associated Press reporter said some officers had weapons drawn from behind trees and others were behind police cars and unmarked cars in the residential neighborhood in the southern part of the city.
Missouri court records show that a Gavin Eugene Long filed a petition for divorce from his wife in February 2011. The online court records don’t say why the couple divorced, but the petition indicates they had no children and that Long had represented himself. Three months after the divorce petition was filed, his ex-wife was granted restoration of her maiden name. Last month, on June 7, a case against Long by the city of Kansas City over unpaid city earnings taxes was dismissed.
“We don’t need careless accusations thrown around to score political points or to advance an agenda. We need to temper our words and open our hearts … all of us,” Obama said.
Although the shooter 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. Two “persons of interest” were detained for questioning in the nearby town of Addis. They were later released without any charges being filed.
Authorities initially believed that additional assailants might be at large, but hours later said there were no other active shooters. They did not discuss the gunman’s motive or any relationship to the wider police conflicts.
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.
“There simply is no place for more violence,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “It doesn’t further the conversation. It doesn’t address any injustice perceived or real. It is just an injustice in and of itself.”
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.”
Mike Spring awoke at a nearby house to a sound that he thought was from firecrackers. The noise went on for 5 to 10 minutes, getting louder.
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.
Jackson, who was black, posted his message on Facebook on July 8, just three days after the death of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black man killed by white Baton Rouge officers after a scuffle at a convenience store.
In the message, Jackson said he was physically and emotionally tired and complained that while in uniform, he gets nasty looks. When he’s out of uniform, he said, some people consider him a threat.
A friend of Jackson’s family, Erika Green, confirmed the posting, which is no longer on Facebook. A screenshot of the image was circulating widely on the internet.
Police-community relations in Baton Rouge have been especially tense since Sterling’s death. 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.
Sterling’s nephew condemned the killing of the three Baton Rouge officers. Terrance Carter spoke Sunday to The Associated Press by telephone, saying the family just wants peace.
“My uncle wouldn’t want this,” Carter said. “He wasn’t this type of man.”
A few yards from a police roadblock on Airline Highway, Keimani Gardner was in the parking lot of a warehouse store that would ordinarily be bustling on a Sunday afternoon. He and his girlfriend both work there. But the store was closed because of the shooting.
“It’s crazy. … I understand some people feel like enough is enough with, you know, the black community being shot,” said Gardner, an African-American. “But honestly, you can’t solve violence with violence.”
Michelle Rogers and her husband drove near the shooting scene, but were blocked at an intersection closed by police.
“I can’t explain what brought us here,” she said. “We just said a prayer in the car for the families.”
Also Sunday, a domestic violence suspect opened fire on a Milwaukee police officer who was sitting in his squad car. The officer was seriously wounded, and the suspect fled and apparently killed himself, authorities said.
Sunday’s incident in Baton Rouge was the latest in a series of deadly encounters in the United States involving police and black men that have sparked a national debate over race and policing. It also came less than two weeks after 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black man, was fatally shot by police in Baton Rouge in a confrontation that sparked nightly protests and has reverberated nationwide. Police-community relations in Baton Rouge have been especially tense since Sterling’s death.
Story by the Associated Press