Three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers were killed Sunday after a former Marine dressed in black and carrying extra ammunition opened fire on them outside a gas station.
Three other officers were wounded in the ambush, one critically. Police said the gunman was killed at the scene.
The shooter was identified as Gavin Long, of Kansas City, who turned 29 on Sunday. Long, who was black, served in the Marines from 2005 to 2010, reaching the rank of sergeant. He deployed to Iraq from June 2008 to June 2009, according to military records.
While in the military, Long was awarded several medals, including one for good conduct, and received an honorable discharge. His occupational expertise was listed as “data network specialist.”
The University of Alabama issued a statement saying Long attended classes for one semester in the spring of 2012. A school spokesman said university police had no interactions with him.
According to The Advocate, Long had been very outspoken against police and his anti-cop rhetoric ramped up in the days leading up to the shooting on Sunday.
Baton Rouge Police Department identified two of the murdered officers as Montrell Jackson and Matthew Gerald. The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office identified the other cop as Brad Garafola.
Jackson, who was black, posted his message on Facebook on July 8, just three days after the death of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black man killed by white Baton Rouge officers after a scuffle at a convenience store.
In the message, the 32-year-old Jackson said he was physically and emotionally tired and complained that while in uniform, he gets nasty looks. When he’s out of uniform, he said, some people consider him a threat.
A friend of Jackson’s family, Erika Green, confirmed the posting, which is no longer on Facebook. A screenshot of the image was circulating widely on the internet.
Gerald, 41, has served on the force for just less than a year.
Garafola has been with the sheriff’s office for 24 years, Casey Rayborn Hicks told the Associated Press.
Hicks also identified the injured sheriff’s deputies as 41-year-old Nicholas Tullier an 18-year veteran, and 51-year-old Bruce Simmons, a 23-year veteran.
Hicks said that Tullier is in critical condition while Simmons has non-life threatening injuries.
The shooting began at a gas station on Airline Highway. According to radio traffic, Baton Rouge police answered a report of a man with an assault rifle and were met by gunfire. For several long minutes, they didn’t know where the shooting was coming from.
The radio exchanges were made public Sunday by the website Broadcastify.
Nearly 2½ minutes after the first report of an officer getting shot, an officer on the scene is heard saying police do not know the shooter’s location.
Almost 6 minutes pass after the first shots are reported before police say they have determined the shooter’s location. About 30 seconds later, someone says shots are still being fired.
The recording lasts about 17 minutes and includes urgent calls for an armored personnel carrier called a BearCat.
“There simply is no place for more violence,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “It doesn’t further the conversation. It doesn’t address any injustice perceived or real. It is just an injustice in and of itself.”
The FBI and the ATF were on scene, helping state and local police investigate what is being described as a “very large crime scene.”
President Obama said in an address Sunday evening that the shooting deaths underscore the danger police face every day.
“Our hearts go out to the families who are grieving, go out to the officer fighting for his life,” Obama said.
Major Doug Cain said that the individuals from Addis were questioned and released but that the investigation was still ongoing. He said no charges were filed against them.
From his window, Joshua Godwin said he saw the suspect, who was dressed in black with a ski mask, combat boots and extra bullets. He appeared to be running “from an altercation.”
Mike Spring awoke at a nearby house to a sound that he thought was from firecrackers. The noise went on for 5 to 10 minutes, getting louder.
It was the fourth high-profile deadly encounter in the United States involving police over the past two weeks. In all, the violence has cost the lives of eight officers, including those in Baton Rouge, and two civilians and sparked a national debate over race and policing.
Police-community relations in Baton Rouge have been especially tense since Sterling’s death. The killing was captured on cellphone video.
It was followed a day later by the shooting death of another black man in Minnesota, whose girlfriend livestreamed the aftermath of his death on Facebook. The next day, a black gunman in Dallas opened fire on police at a protest about the police shootings, killing five officers and heightening tensions even further.
Thousands of people protested Sterling’s death, and Baton Rouge police arrested more than 200 demonstrators.
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.”
A few yards from a police roadblock on Airline Highway, Keimani Gardner was in the parking lot of a warehouse store that would ordinarily be bustling on a Sunday afternoon. He and his girlfriend both work there. But the store was closed because of the shooting.
“It’s crazy. … I understand some people feel like enough is enough with, you know, the black community being shot,” said Gardner, an African-American. “But honestly, you can’t solve violence with violence.”
Michelle Rogers and her husband drove near the shooting scene, but were blocked at an intersection closed by police.
“I can’t explain what brought us here,” she said. “We just said a prayer in the car for the families.”