3 Baton Rouge police officers killed, 3 wounded in 'cowardly' shooting

Three Baton Rouge police officers were killed and three others injured before the attacker was shot dead at the scene by police Sunday morning. The gunman has been identified as a 29-year-old veteran of the U.S. Marines.

Gunman ID'd as Gavin Long, a former member of the U.S. Marines who served in Iraq

Police guard the emergency room entrance of the Our Lady Of The Lake hospital, where wounded officers were brought, in Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday. Three law enforcement officers were killed and three others injured after a morning shooting. (Gerald Herbert/Associated Press)

Three Baton Rouge police officers were killed and three others injured before the attacker was shot dead at the scene by police Sunday morning.

Officers responded to a report of a man with an assault rifle around 8:40 a.m. Sunday and spotted a suspect at a convenience store. Within two minutes there were reports of shots fired. Two minutes after that, there were reports of officers down.

The shooting came amid escalating tensions across the country between the black community and police, and less than two weeks after a black man was fatally shot by police here in a confrontation that sparked protests that reverberated across the country.

Authorities identified the gunman as Gavin Long, a 29-year-old black man from Kansas City, Mo., who served in the U.S. Marines, including a six-month tour of duty in Iraq. Missouri records show he had no criminal history.

Shooter was a decorated veteran 

While in the military, Long was awarded several medals, including one for good conduct, and received an honourable discharge. His occupational expertise was listed as "data network specialist."

The University of Alabama issued a statement saying that Long attended classes for one semester in the spring of 2012. A school spokesman said university police had no interactions with him.

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.

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Reuters reports that a website, social media accounts and YouTube videos that appear tied to Long include complaints about police abuse of African-Americans and indicate he recently joined demonstrations in Dallas, where a black former U.S. Army reservist killed five officers two days after the police shooting of 37-year-old Alton Sterling.

A government source told Reuters federal officials were reviewing the web postings but could not definitively link them to Long.

Long divorced his wife in 2011, with no children at the time, according to Missouri court records.

In Kansas City, police officers, some with guns drawn, converged on a house listed as Long's.

Police said Long was the only shooter and that he was killed by officers at the scene.

"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.

Slain officers ID'd

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.

Three other officers were wounded. One was hospitalized in critical condition, while the others were being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, hospital officials said.

Multiple police units were stationed at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center.

Gerald celebrated his fourth wedding anniversary just two weeks ago.

WWL-TV reports Gerald and his wife, Dechia, have a three-year-old daughter together and that Gerald had adopted his wife's daughter from a previous relationship.

Family friend Skye Turner says Gerald was, "a good family man, good cop, loving husband."

WWL reports Gerald was a former Marine and Blackhawk crew chief in the Army and had joined the police department four months ago.

This undated photo made available by the Baton Rouge Police Department shows police officer Matthew Gerald. Gerald, 41, who was killed by a gunman on Sunday. (Baton Rouge Police Dept./Associated Press)

The third fatality was Brad Garafola, 45, and a 24-year veteran of the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office.  His neighbour Rhonda Smith said Sunday evening that Garafola was never seen without at least one of his four children, who range in age from 7 to 21.

Smith says Garafola was, "the epitome of a peace officer."

This undated photo made available by the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office shows deputy Brad Garafola. (East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office/Associated Press)

Jackson's father-in-law described him as a "gentle giant."

Lonnie Jordan spoke to reporters on the front lawn of Jackson's house in the rural Livingston Parish. He said he heard about Jackson's death while at church Sunday morning when he received a text message.

Jordan said Jackson was "always about peace."

In this 2016 photo provided by Trenisha Jackson, her husband, Baton Rouge Police Officer Montrell Jackson, holds his son Mason at a Father's Day event for police officers in Baton Rouge, La. (Trenisha Jackson/Associated Press)

Kedrick Pitts, 24, Jackson's half-brother, said he was very close to his older brother.

He described his brother as someone dedicated to "God, family and the police force."

Pitts said Jackson leaves behind a wife and a four-month-old son named Mason.

Jordan said his son-in-law had been working long hours since the death of Alton Sterling and the resulting protests. But Jordan said if the work was a strain, Jackson didn't let it show.

Alton Sterling 'wouldn't want this' 

Police-community relations in Baton Rouge have been especially tense since the death of Sterling, a black man killed by white officers earlier this month after a scuffle at a convenience store. The killing was captured on cellphone video and circulated widely on the internet.

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."

Black Lives Matter, which protests police killings of black men, has also spoken out against the attack. 

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued a statement calling the attack "unspeakable and unjustified."

"Rest assured, every resource available to the State of Louisiana will be used to ensure the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice," Edwards said.

Obama condemns 'reprehensible assault'

In a statement Sunday, President Barack Obama condemned the shooting "in the strongest sense of the word," and said there is no justification for violence against law enforcement.

"For the second time in two weeks, police officers who put their lives on the line for ours every day were doing their job when they were killed in a cowardly and reprehensible assault," he said. 

"These are attacks on public servants, on the rule of law, and on civilized society, and they have to stop."

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Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump also condemned the shootings and placed the blame on ineffectual leadership.

"We grieve for the officers killed in Baton Rouge today. How many law enforcement and people have to die because of a lack of leadership in our country? We demand law and order," he wrote in a Facebook post.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton released a short statement on Twitter urging Americans to reject violence, and said the "assault on police officers in Baton Rouge is an assault on all of us."

With files from Reuters


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