- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 17, 2016

Three law enforcement officers were fatally shot and three others injured Sunday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, sending police across the country into mourning for the second time in two weeks after a lone gunman took the lives of multiple officers.

Authorities said the shooter, identified by multiple news outlets as 29-year-old Gavin Eugene Long of Kansas City, Missouri, was killed in an exchange of gunfire with responding officers.

“We believe that the person that shot and killed our officers, that he is the person that was shot and killed at the scene,” said Louisiana State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson, walking back initial reports of multiple gunmen. “We do not believe we have any other shooter held up in any other area.”

Officials are investigating Long’s exact motivations and whether he had any help in setting up a possible ambush-style slaying after weeks of turmoil over police relations with minority communities. Social media accounts tied to Long suggest the attack was premeditated.

The fatal shooting of a black man, Alton Sterling, by Baton Rouge police officers on July 5 sparked a wave of protests in the city after cellphone videos of his death circulated online. Police, fearful after a sniper killed five Dallas police officers at a Black Lives Matter protest July 7, arrested scores of demonstrators at later rallies in Baton Rouge.

One of the slain officers was identified by family and friends as Officer Montrell Jackson, a 10-year veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Department.

A Facebook post that the 32-year-old black officer had written in response to the Sterling shooting went viral. It lamented “some family, friends, and officers for some reckless comments.”

“I swear to God I love this city, but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty, hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat,” Officer Jackson wrote.

The Associated Press and Louisiana TV stations identified the other slain Baton Rouge police officer as 41-year-old Matthew Gerald. According to Fox8 in New Orleans and CBS9 in Baton Rouge, Officer Gerald was a former Marine who graduated from the department’s police academy in March and started to patrol on his own only this month.

The third fatality was Officer Brad Garafola, a 45-year-old East Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputy and a married father of four, his family told The Baton Rouge Advocate.

Two other deputies and an officer were injured in the shooting, which occurred just before 9 a.m. behind a convenience store.

“It’s unjustified; it’s unjustifiable,” said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. “The violence, the hatred just has to stop.”

Officials declined to address reports that agencies were looking for two other people who may have played roles in the shooting, though Mr. Edwards said “these perpetrators, if there is more than one,” will be brought to justice.

Louisiana State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson said there was “no active scenario that involves a shooter in the city of Baton Rouge,” but the investigation into the shooting was described as active and ongoing.

At an afternoon news conference, Superintendent Edmonson gave the first timeline of the shooting. He said that law enforcement officers responded to the area for a report at 8:40 a.m. of a man wearing all black and walking around with a rifle. Two minutes later, there were reports of shots fired. Two minutes after that, officers radioed in that officers were down.

Additional officers responded to the scene, and within a matter of 10 minutes they had exchanged gunfire with the gunman, fatally wounding him, Superintendent Edmonson said.

Police initially said they had sent in a robot to check for explosives on the body of the downed gunman, but officials, who did not take questions at the news conference, did not address that statement.

Baton Rouge Police Department spokesman Cpl. L’Jean McKneely previously said there was no interaction between police and the suspects before the shooting started. “The officers did engage,” he said. “There was no talking; there was shooting.”

As investigators continued to probe the shooting to determine a motive, details began to emerge about the gunman.

CBS News reported that Sunday was Long’s 29th birthday and that he was originally from Kansas City, Missouri.

Missouri court records indicate that in 2011, Long divorced without children. WDAF-TV in Kansas City reported that after a news team knocked on the door of the home listed as Long’s address, a man holding a gun that resembled an AK-47 told the broadcasters to leave.

Citing law enforcement sources, CBS News reported that Long used the online pseudonym of Cosmo Setepenra.

Several websites attributed to the pseudonym to advertisements of experience and services ranging from a spiritual adviser and nutritionist to “freedom strategist.” Several YouTube videos linked to the Cosmo persona feature ideas about black separatism, as well as speaking about police oppression. In one video, he indicates that he had traveled to Dallas in the wake of the police shootings.

The authenticity of the videos and websites was not independently confirmed, but the Twitter account @ConvosWithCosmo had a cryptic Saturday night tweet stating, “just bc you shed your physical body doesn’t mean that you’re dead.”

As law enforcement leaders grieved, East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux pre-empted any calls for increased gun control.

“This is not so much about gun control as it is what’s in men’s hearts,” Sheriff Gautreaux said. “Until we come together as a nation, as a people, to heal as a people, if we don’t do that and this madness continues, we will surely perish as a people.”

Fraternal Order of Police President Chuck Canterbury emphasized that it was important for people — law enforcement and civilian — to reject calls for retribution, violence, hatred and mistrust.

“It is these voices that must be challenged and, on behalf of our members and the families of the slain officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge and all across our nation, we ask that those thousands who have taken to the streets with such fervor and asked for justice to be done to join us and ask that the violence against law enforcement also stop,” Mr. Canterbury said in a statement.

Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of Sterling’s son Cameron, said her family was “disgusted by the despicable act of violence today that resulted in the shooting deaths of members of the Baton Rouge law enforcement. My family is heartbroken for the officers and their families.”

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