2016 shooting of Baton Rouge police officers

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2016 shooting of Baton Rouge police officers
Location Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States
Coordinates 30.4338°N 91.0817°WCoordinates: 30.4338°N 91.0817°W
Date July 17, 2016
8:42 a.m. – c. 8:48 a.m. (CDT)
Target Responding police officers
Attack type
Mass shooting
Weapons
Deaths 4 (including the perpetrator)[1]
Non-fatal injuries
3
Perpetrator Gavin Eugene Long[2]
Motive Recent killings of blacks by police[3]

On July 17, 2016, Gavin Eugene Long, from Kansas City, Missouri, shot sixBaton Rouge-area police officers. Three of the officers died and three more were hospitalized, one critically. Of the officers that died, two were members of the Baton Rouge Police Department; the third worked for the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office. Long, who associated himself with organizations linked to black separatism and the sovereign citizen movement, died in a shootout with police at the scene. Police arrested and questioned two other suspects.

Background[edit]

The shooting occurred during a period of unrest in Baton Rouge, though it is unclear if the events are related.[4] Baton Rouge was experiencing ongoing protests following the officer-involved killing of Alton Sterling less than two weeks before on July 5.[5][6] Within the last week, four suspects were arrested in connection with an alleged plot to kill Baton Rouge police officers, which was described as a credible threat by law enforcement officials.[5][7] On July 7, the FBI‘s New Orleans field office issued a warning about “threats to law enforcement and potential threats to the safety of the general public” stemming from the death of Sterling.[8]

Details[edit]

Long arrived at Hammond Aire Plaza, a shopping complex on Airline Highway, sometime before 8:40 a.m. CT and began scouting the area in search of police officers. He first spotted a police patrol vehicle parked at a B-Quik convenience store; it belonged to a sheriff’s deputy who was working security in the area. Long parked his vehicle behind an adjacent building, got out, and prepared to shoot, but found that the vehicle was empty. He then drove north and noticed a police officer washing his vehicle a short distance away, but the officer left before Long could get close.[9][10][11] By 8:40 CT, police received a call about a suspicious person carrying a rifle near the plaza.[10]

When officers arrived at the scene, they found Long clad in black and wearing a face mask behind the Hair Crown Beauty Supply store on the 9600 block of Airline Highway.[10][12] Shots were reportedly fired two minutes later. Another two minutes afterwards, there were reports that officers were down.[10] According to investigators, Long fired upon the first responding officers, fatally wounding three. One of the officers was killed trying to help another. Long shot another police officer and then moved to another part of the complex, where he shot two sheriff’s deputies. At 8:46 CT, he was reported to be near Benny’s Car Wash. Officers fired on Long from behind the cover of patrol cars. Eventually, a SWAT team responded to the scene; one member took aim at Long from about 100 yards away and killed him at about 8:48 CT, without having a clearline of sight. Louisiana State Police said Long was the only person involved in the shooting. The entire shooting lasted for less than ten minutes.[9][10][11]

Officers used a robot to check Long’s body for explosives.[13] A preliminary investigation determined that Long was targeting officers and ignoring civilians.[14][15]

Police recovered from the crime scene an IWI Tavor SAR 5.56-caliber rifle and a Springfield XD 9mm pistol. A third weapon—a Stag Arms M4-type 5.56-caliber semi-automatic rifle—was recovered from Long’s rental Malibu.[16] Officials believed that Long had intentions of attacking the Baton Rouge police headquarters and continuing to kill officers.[15]

Perpetrator[edit]

Gavin Eugene Long
Born July 17, 1987
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Died July 17, 2016 (aged 29)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.
Cause of death Multiple gunshots by police
Nationality American
Other names Cosmo Ausar Setepenra
Education Central Texas College
Clark Atlanta University
University of Alabama

Gavin Eugene Long (July 17, 1987 – July 17, 2016) was identified as the shooter. He was a resident of Kansas City, Missouri. In May 2015, he changed his legal name to Cosmo Ausar Setepenra.[17] Although he was said to have acted alone in the shooting, police arrested and questioned two other people in Addis as part of the investigation.[12][18][19] Long was believed to have traveled more than 700 miles (1,100 km) from his hometown to Baton Rouge using a stolen rental car.[20][21] He was also believed to have been in Baton Rouge for “several days” prior to the shooting.[15]

Long served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a data network specialist from August 22, 2005, to August 1, 2010. He was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant.[3][11][20][22][23] During his military service, he was deployed toIraq from June 2008 to January 2009.[24] He was also assigned to units in San Diego, California, and Okinawa, Japan.[22] Long was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, along with an Iraq Campaign Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, a Navy Unit Commendation, and others.[11][23]

According to his LinkedIn profile, Long graduated from Central Texas College in Killeen in 2011 with an associate degree, and also studied at Clark Atlanta University, a historically black university, from 2012 to 2013. In addition, he spent a semester at the University of Alabama in the spring of 2012, with his name making it to the Dean’s List as a general business major.[14][24] According to local court records, Long had no criminal record and was divorced.[25]

Political views[edit]

Long was identified as a “black separatist” by a U.S. law enforcement official.[26] Social media posts indicated that he was an active member of the anti-government New Freedom Group.[27] According to CNN, a card was found on Long’s body, suggesting that he was a member of the Washitaw Nation, a group of African Americans associated with the sovereign citizen movement that originated in Richwood.[28] In addition to changing his legal name, he claimed his nationality was “United Washitaw de Dugdahmoundyah Mu’ur”,[29][a] and expressed his support for the Moorish Science Temple of America, another African American organization associated with the sovereign citizen movement.[30] He was also a member of a group dedicated to helping “Targeted Individuals” suffering from “remote brain experimentation, remote neural monitoring of an entire humans body.”[17]

In a “rambling” series of YouTube clips, Long claimed to be a former Nation of Islam member and referred to Alton Sterling, a black man killed by Baton Rouge police officers on July 5, in online videos.[3] Long operated his YouTube channel under his new legal name, Cosmo Setepenra, making references to oppression against blacks and police protests. At one point less than two weeks before committing the shooting, Long called the shootings of five Dallas police officers an act of “justice”.[3][20] In one video, he said, “One hundred percent of revolutions… have been successful through fighting back through bloodshed.”[26] In another, he said the act of peaceful protesting was a futile method based on emotion and was easily forgettable.[28] Long also maintained a personal website in which he described himself as a “freedom strategist, mental game coach, nutritionist, author and spiritual advisor.”[24] The website contained dozens of additional videos andpodcasts.[21]

Long wrote and self-published (also under the name “Cosmo Setepenra”) three books that appeared on Amazon.com in October and November 2015. The books were described by The Los Angeles Times as “bizarre” works featuring a “combination of New Age-style jargon, pseudoscience, motivational bromides, health tips and racial theory.” In the books, Long harshly criticized Western medicine, denied the germ theory of disease, and asserted that “[t]he abundance ofMelanin in Black humans produces a superior organism both mentally and physically.” The books were pulled from Amazon.com after the shooting.[31] According to one of his books, he spent two years in several African countries studying their histories and cultures.[23]

Victims[edit]

Two Baton Rouge Police Department officers and one East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputy were killed in the shooting. Three others, a police officer and two sheriff’s deputies, were injured.[32]

Immediately after the shooting, injured officers were transported to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, which said it received five patients from the shooting, three of whom later died. Of the surviving two, one was in critical conditionand the other in fair condition.[8][13] The third injured officer was transported to Baton Rouge General Medical Center and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.[33]

The officers killed were identified as:

  • Deputy Brad Garafola, 45, who had been with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office since 1992.[34]
  • Officer Matthew Gerald, 41, a former Marine who had been with the Baton Rouge Police Department for four months.[35]
  • Officer Montrell Jackson, 32, who had been with the department since 2006.[36]

Reactions[edit]

President Barack Obama condemned the shooting in a statement and added, “These are attacks on public servants, on the rule of law, and on civilized society, and they have to stop.”[37] Later that day, he ordered for all flags in the U.S. to be flown at half-staff in honor of the victims.[38]

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards released a statement immediately after the shooting, saying, “This is an unspeakable and unjustified attack on all of us at a time when we need unity and healing.”[39] On the day after, he called the shooting “pure evil” and “a diabolical attack on the very fabric of society.”[40]

In an interview, Mayor Kip Holden recommended police agencies across the U.S. to put their officers on high alert and urged Americans to be “vocal about their support for law enforcement”.[21]

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