BATON ROUGE (CBSNewYork/AP) — Three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers investigating a report of a man with an assault rifle were killed Sunday, less than two weeks after a black man was shot and killed by police here in a confrontation that sparked nightly protests that reverberated nationwide.
Three other officers were wounded, one critically. Police said the suspect was killed at the scene.
CBS News identified the suspect as Gavin Eugene Long, a 29-year-old black man from Kansas City, Missouri. According to CBS News, Long was honorably discharged from the Marines in 2010 after serving since 2005.
Long reached the rank of sergeant. He deployed to Iraq from June 2008 to January 2009, according to military records.
CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported Long became a self-described personal trainer and life coach who posted videos advocating a black uprising and armed revolutions.
“Let’s just go with the numbers, let’s go with the history, 100 percent of revolutions of victims fighting their oppressors, from victims fighting their bullies, 100 percent have been successful through fighting back, through bloodshed,” Long said in one video. “Zero have been successful just over simply protesting. It has never worked and it never will, you gotta fight back. That’s the only way a bully knows to quit, he doesn’t know words.”
Long made the video in Dallas last week where five police officers were killed by Army veteran Micah Johnson.
Authorities said the dead gunman was the only person who fired at the officers, but they were unsure whether he had some kind of help from others, according to a state police spokesman.
“We are not ready to say he acted alone,” Major Doug Cain said. Two people were detained in the nearby town of Addis, but have since been questioned and released. No charges were filed against them.
The shooting — which took place just before 9 a.m., less than a mile from police headquarters — came amid escalating tensions across the country between the black community and police. The races of the suspect and the officers were not immediately known.
It was the fourth high-profile deadly encounter in the United States involving police over the past two weeks. The violence has left 12 people dead, including eight police officers, and sparked a national debate over race and policing.
President Barack Obama urged Americans to tamp down inflammatory words and actions.
“We as a nation have to be loud and clear that nothing justifies attacks on law enforcement,” Obama said in remarks from the White House briefing room. “Every one right now focus on words and actions that can unite this country rather than divide it further.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the shootings a “cowardly attack.”
“Today, our hearts are heavy as we struggle to cope with the horrific shootings of police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana – a cowardly attack that resulted in three deaths. These heroes put their lives on the line every day to protect their fellow citizens and the senseless manner in which their lives were taken is appalling,” Cuomo said.
Authorities initially believed that other assailants might be at large, but hours later said that no other active shooters were on the loose. They did not discuss the gunman’s motive or any relationship to the wider police conflicts.
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 did not know where it was coming from.
The radio exchanges were made public Sunday by the website Broadcastify.
Nearly 2 1/2 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.
Nearly six 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.
In Kansas City, police converged on a house that was listed for a Gavin Long. Some officers had weapons drawn from behind trees. Others took cover behind cars.
Gov. John Bel Edwards rushed to the hospital where the shot officers were taken.
“There simply is no place for more violence,” Edwards said. “That doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t further the conversation. It doesn’t address any injustice perceived or real. It is just an injustice in and of itself.”
A witness told television station WAFB that he saw a masked man in black shorts and shirt running from the scene where the three officers were killed.
Brady Vancel said the man looked like a pedestrian running with a rifle in his hand, rather than someone trained to move with a rifle.
Vancel said he had gone to work on a flooring job near the gas station when he heard semi-automatic gunfire and perhaps a handgun. He saw a man in a red shirt lying in an empty parking lot and “another gunman running away as more shots were being fired back and forth from several guns.”
From his window, Joshua Godwin said he saw the suspect, who was wearing all 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 five to 10 minutes, getting louder.
Of the two officers who survived the shooting, one was hospitalized in critical condition, and the other was in fair condition. Another officer was being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, hospital officials said.
A Louisiana state representative identified one of the slain officers as Montrell Jackson, who had a 4-month-old child. Ted James said he knew Jackson and his family personally.
The Baton Rouge attack unfolded hours after a domestic violence suspect opened fire early Sunday on a Milwaukee police officer who was sitting in his squad car. The officer was seriously wounded, and the suspect fled and apparently killed himself, authorities said.
Police-community relations in Baton Rouge have been especially tense since the death of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black man killed by white officers July 5 after a scuffle at a convenience store. The killing was captured on widely circulated 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 have protested Sterling’s death, and Baton Rouge police arrested more than 200 demonstrators.
According to The Daily Beast, Jackson wrote on Facebook on July 8 that he was getting “nasty” and “hateful” looks since the deaths of Sterling and Castile.
“I’ve experienced so much in my short life and the past 3 days have tested me to the core,” Jackson wrote. “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.”
He continued, “When people you know begin to question your integrity you realize they don’t really know you at all. Look at my actions they speak LOUD and CLEAR. Finally I personally want to send prayers out to everyone directly affected by this tragedy. These are trying times. Please don’t let hate infect your heart. This city MUST and WILL get better. I’m working in these streets so any protesters, officers, friends, family, or whoever, if you see me and need a hug or want to say a prayer, I got you.”
The two other officers who were killed have been identified as Officer Matthew Gerald, 41, and Deputy Brad Garafola, 45.
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.
Veda Washington-Abusaleh, Sterling’s aunt, made an emotional plea calling for peace.
“We didn’t call for no bloodshed,” she said. “That’s how all this started, with bloodshed. We don’t want no more bloodshed.”
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said on “CBS Evening News” that more needs to be done to build trust between the minority community and police across the country.
“To find common ground that we can stand on and have dialogue and not assassinations, not murders, not violence,” Bratton said.
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.”
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