THE BATON ROUGE SHOOTING

The man who shot dead three police officers in the US city of Baton Rouge has been identified as a black military veteran who released a series of videos railing against the treatment of African-Americans by police.

Gavin Long was killed in a gun battle with police on Sunday, on what was his 29th birthday.

Long served in the US Marines from 2005-2010, including a seven-month Iraq tour in 2008. He attained the rank of sergeant and received several awards, including the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal.

More recently he appears to have tried to reinvent himself as a self-help guru.

On the website Convoswithcosmo.com, registered to Long, he describes himself as a “freedom strategist, mental game coach, nutritionist, author and spiritual advisor”.

The man identified as the killer of three US police officers in Baton Rouge had posted videos complaining at police treatment of African Americans and urging them to “fight back”.

One of Gavin Long’s videos stresses he is not linked to any group but is “affiliated with justice”.

The ex-Marine, 29, was killed by police during the attack on Sunday morning.

Tension has been high since police shot dead a black man in Baton Rouge two weeks ago.

That death – and a second police shooting in Minnesota – sparked protests across the United States and triggered a revenge attack by a black army veteran who shot dead five officers in the city of Dallas.

Responding to the latest killings, President Barack Obama called upon all Americans to unite and refrain from divisive language.

Gun

Louisiana State Police said on Facebook on Monday that they had now positively identified Gavin Long as the gunman via fingerprints and said he was “certainly seeking out police”.

Col Mike Edmonson said: “His movements, his direction, his attention was on police officers.”

More details have emerged about Long, who was from Kansas City, Missouri, including his service history.

A Marine from August 2005 until August 2010, he rose to the rank of sergeant and served in Iraq from June 2008 until January 2009, earning a number of medals and commendations. He received an honourable discharge.

His video and online postings used the pseudonym Cosmo Setepenra. He rails against what he sees as injustices against black people, at one point saying “you gotta fight back”.

In one video, posted on YouTube, Long says that should “anything happen” to him, he was “not affiliated” with any group.

“I’m affiliated with the spirit of justice, nothing more nothing less. I thought my own thoughts, I made my own decisions,” he said.

One website called “convoswithcosmo” says he has travelled to Dallas in the wake of the killing of the police officers there.

In a 10 July video apparently posted from Dallas, he says only violence and financial pressure will bring about change. “We know what it’s going to take. It’s only fighting back or money. That’s all they care about.

“Revenue and blood, revenue and blood, revenue and blood. Nothing else.”

Other postings rail against white and Asian people, and “Arabs and Indians”.

One tweet last week says: ‘Violence is not THE answer (its a answer), but at what point do you stand up so that your people dont become the Native Americans…EXTINCT?”

Sunday’s attack reportedly took place on Long’s birthday. It is unclear why he was in Baton Rouge.

Police had responded to reports of a man dressed in black holding a rifle behind a store. They are investigating whether an emergency call lured the officers there.

The exchange of fire lasted about eight minutes. Mayor Kip Holden said it was an “ambush-style” attack.

Col Edmonson said the gunman was believed to have acted alone.

The dead officers were named as Montrell Jackson, 32, and Matthew Gerald, 41, of the Baton Rouge police department, and Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Garafola, 45. All three men had families.

Another officer is in critical condition.

It has emerged that just days before the attack Montrell Jackson posted an emotional message on Facebook about how hard it was to be a black police officer in Baton Rouge.

“I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me,” he wrote.

“In uniform, I get nasty hateful looks, and out of uniform some consider me a threat.”

A vigil was attended by police officers and members of the public on Sunday evening at Saint John the Baptist Church in Zachary, just north of Baton Rouge.

In a live broadcast from the White House, President Obama said that “nothing justifies violence against law enforcement”.

“Everyone right now focus on words and actions that can unite this country rather than divide it further,” he said, as the US begins two weeks of political conventions with Republicans meeting in Cleveland later on Monday.

“We need to temper our words and open our hearts… all of us,” said the president.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards told a news conference it was an “absolutely unspeakable, heinous attack”.

Mayor Holden told local media the “rhetoric from some people” after the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge could be connected to the shootings.

“Everything’s been anti-police,” he said, but he insisted the “overwhelming number of people in Baton Rouge” were “not buying into their rhetoric”.

 

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