Baton Rouge shooter had at least 3 guns in 'diabolical attack'
Police chief says Baton Rouge, Dallas shootings demonstrate need for police militarization
The man who killed two police officers and a sheriff's deputy in Baton Rouge committed "a diabolical attack on the very fabric of our society," Louisiana's governor said Monday.
John Bel Edwards made the statement at a Monday afternoon press conference updating the investigation into the shooting carried out Sunday by Gavin Eugene Long, the latest in a string of violent incidents involving police in the U.S.
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Long, whose last known address was in Kansas City, Mo., was seen at 8:40 a.m. Sunday — he was wearing all black, holding a rifle, and standing behind a gas station on Airline Highway. Two minutes later, police received reports of shots fired, and then minutes after that, a gunfight with police ensued.
Long was shot and killed by a SWAT team member. Police recovered two rifles and a 9-mm handgun from the scene during their investigation, state police Col. Mike Edmonson said Monday.
Edmonson showed overhead maps of the area to explain how Long snuck up behind police officers and shot them at close range, in what he has described as an "ambush."
Sid Gautreaux, sheriff of East Baton Rouge, praised the response to the shooting spree and said if not for the SWAT marksman, "we would have had two other slain deputies and that individual would have had the opportunity to get into his car and go after other targets."
'They didn't play by the rules'
The dead officers have been identified as Brad Garafola, Matthew Gerald and Montrell Jackson. They ranged in age from 32 to 45.
A statement from Our Lady of the Lake hospital in Baton Rouge said the city police officer who was reported in fair condition has now been released, leaving two still in hospital.
Sheriff's deputy Nicholas Tullier remained in critical condition.
"It's been touch and go for the family … his vitals have been up and down," said Gautreaux.
Deputy Bruce Simmons is being treated for wounds to his arm and shoulder that are not expected to be life-threatening.
"That is not what justice looks like. It's not justice for Alton Sterling or anyone else ... it's pure unadulterated evil," said Edwards.
The governor was referring to the black man whose fatal shooting by police outside of a convenience store on July 5 has roiled racial tensions in Baton Rouge, with a string of protests and accusations by the ACLU of police brutality and militarization during those protests.
Edwards defended the police, saying there hadn't been a protest-related arrest in six days leading up to Long's attack.
Carl Dabadie, police chief for Baton Rouge, said police have been questioned about militarized tactics, but says these killings show that "we are up against a force that is not playing by the rules."
"They didn't play by the rules in Dallas and they did not play by the rules here," said Dabadie, referring to the July 7 shootings in Texas in which five Dallas police officers were killed by a lone gunman during what had been a peaceful protest.
"Our militarized tactics, as they're being called, saved lives here," Dabadie added.
FBI Agent Jeff Sallet said federal investigators are actively trying to figure out if gunman Gavin Long had any associates or support for his plan to come to Baton Rouge and kill police.
Sallet said the agency is committing all resources necessary to identifying any co-conspirators or facilitators and bring them to justice."
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 honourable discharge, was listed as a "data network specialist" in the Marines.
After the marines, he attended the University of Alabama for one semester, a school spokesman confirmed.
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.
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.
A website using the name Cosmo Setepenra 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." Long filed for a name change to Setepenra in 2015, documents show.
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.
with files from Reuters