Baton Rouge gunman 'deliberately looking to kill police'
The gunman who opened fire in Baton Rouge - sending fresh shockwaves across an already anxious country - was deliberately looking to kill police officers, officials have revealed.
Authorities in Louisiana said they were still trying to determine the precise motive for the actions of gunman Gavin Long, but said they had concluded he intentionally ambushed the officers, killing three and injuring three others. On Sunday, some initial reports had suggested that officers were caught up in a shoot-out involving people firing at each other.
"We do believe he was targetting officers, and he definitely did ambush these officers that he shot," Lt JB Slaton, a Louisiana State Police spokesman, said yesterday morning.
He added: "We're trying to figure out why he would commit this heinous crime."
Long (29) was an African- American and a former marine who had posted videos online in which he appeared to endorse violence as a way to push back against the seemingly endless incidents in which black and minority suspects lose their lives at the hands of police.
The day after five police officers were fatally shot during a protest against police violence in Dallas, Long posted one such video on YouTube. "I'm not gonna harp on that, you know, with a brother killing the police. You get what I'm saying?" he said. "That's, it's justice."
In another video, referring to Native Americans, he said: "When they were extincted by the same people that run this country, my question to you, just something you can think about: at what point should they have stood up?"
Long had dressed in black and carried extra ammunition before he launched his attack on officers. He was eventually killed by police, but not before he had shot six of them. Much about the incident remains unclear. Police have said only that officers were contacted about a man "carrying a weapon, carrying a rifle" at about 8.40am on Sunday, and, after officers in the area spotted the man, a shootout ensued.
Reuters said documents showed Long sought to change his name last year to Cosmo Setepenra. A website using that name 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 adviser". In documents seeking the name change, Long also referred to himself as a member of a black separatist group known as the Washitaw Nation, which describes itself as a sovereign Native American nation composed of blacks descended from ancestors who settled in North America before Columbus.
Long served in the Marines from 2005 to 2010, reaching the rank of sergeant. He deployed to Iraq from June 2008 to January 2009, according to records.