An ex-Marine turned self-touted life coach who ranted about government conspiracies in Youtube videos and shared extremist beliefs on social media has been identified as the gunman who killed three police officers and wounded three others in Baton Rouge.
Gavin Eugene Long opened fire on officers Sunday morning in Louisiana on his 29th birthday, just days after posting videos online saying people needed to “fight back” after recent killings of black men by police in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, police sources told multiple news outlets, NBC News.
Long, originally from Kansas City, Missouri, was shot dead at the scene of the shooting, CBS News reports.
He used the name Cosmo Setepenra online and as his pen name for his self-published books. He discussed the Dallas attack on police officers and recent police shootings of black men in social media posts.
“Violence is not THE answer (its a answer), but at what point do you stand up so that your people dont become the Native Americans…EXTINCT?,” he wrote on Twitter on July 13.
State Police Colonel Mike Edmondson said they believe Long was the lone attacker. Edmondson said they are still working to determine if he had any help from co-conspirators and asked anyone with information or anyone who sees something suspicious to contact police.
The state police are leading the ongoing investigation.
Governor John Bel Edwards said it was an “horrific” attack on law enforcement and the Baton Rouge community. He said Long, “came in here from somewhere else to do harm to our community.”
Police said they believe Long had been in the Baton Rouge community for several days. His social media posts show he had also recently been in Dallas, traveling there in the aftermath of the shooting that killed five police officers.
Edwards referenced the killing of Alton Sterling in early July by Baton Rouge police.
He said it was a “diabolical attack on the very fabric of society. … There is nothing more fundamentally important than maintaining law and order. … That is not what justice looks like. It’s not justice for Alton Sterling or anything else that has happened in this state or anywhere else. It’s just pure, unadulterated evil.”
The three slain officers have been identified as Montrell Jackson, Matthew Gerald and Brad Garafola.
Here’s what we know so far about Long and the shooting:
1. Long Posted on Social Media About Recent Police Shootings & Said ‘Bloodshed,’ Not Just Protests, Was Necessary
Long registered a website, convoswithcosmo.com, and created several social media sites under the name Cosmo Setepenra in April. He said in a tweet that he had been away living in Africa for two years and recently returned:
Long described himself on his Twitter account, @ConvosWithCosmo, as a “Freedom Strategist,” “Radio Host,” Mental Game Coach, “Alpha Preneur, “Author,” “World Explorer” and “Former Marine. He also says he has an “☥Ethiopian Bloodline☥.”
Long went to Dallas after the attack on police officers on July 7, 2016, according to a video he posted to Youtube on July 10. He was there to give out his self-published books and claimed the trip had been planned before the attack on police. But from his hotel room, he commented about how he thought people should react to police brutality.
“One hundred percent of revolutions, of victims fighting their oppressors, from victims fighting their bullies, 100 percent have been successful through fighting back, through bloodshed. Zero have been successful just over 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,” he said in the video. “He can’t understand words, I promise you. He doesn’t understand protests. If y’all want to keep protesting, do that. But for the serious ones, for the real ones, the alpha ones, we know what’s it’s going to take. It’s only fighting back or money, that’s all they care about. Revenue and blood, revenue and blood, revenue and blood, nothing else. Don’t even think about it.”
You can watch the video below:
In many of his videos and social media posts, Long talked about justice and fighting back against the government. He had previously taken an interest in police brutality cases, including the arrest and death of Sandra Bland, which he posted three Youtube videos about last year.
More recently, Long commented about the Alton Sterling shooting in an email obtained by Buzzfeed:
He also tweeted a photo of Micah Johnson after the shooting and called him “one of us”:
He posted several tweets talking about the Dallas shooting and recent police shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge:
His final tweet was just after 1 a.m. Eastern on Sunday:
You can see more tweets at the link below:
2. Wearing Black With His Face Covered He Began Shooting at Officers Responding to a Call for a Man With an ‘Assault Rifle,’ Police Say
The gunman, identified as Gavin Eugene Long, was wearing black and with his face covered, began firing on officers Sunday morning near Hammond Aire Plaza, WBRZ reports. He was also wearing body armor, police said.
Police said he was using an IWI Tavor SAR 5.56 caliber rifle with a strap on it to keep the rifle in place as he engaged the officers, helping him maintain accuracy. He also was armed with a pistol and a Stag Arms M4 variant 5.56 caliber rifle. The rifle was staged inside his Chevrolet Malibu rental car so he could get to it during the shooting, police said.
State Police Colonel Mike Edmondson told The Associated Press the attacker was “seeking out” police officers.
Edmondson said his “movements, his direction, his attention was on police officers.”
The shooting was first reported about 8:40 a.m., according to police radio transmissions. The audio below, of the first 45 minutes of the incident, is courtesy of Broadcastify.com:
Police were responding to a 911 call from a woman reporting a man walking with an “assault rifle” in the area of the B-Quik gas station on Airline Highway. The caller told police the man was wearing a coat and walking behind the store, according to the scanner audio.
Seconds later, an officer yells “Shots fired, officer down! Shots fired, officer down!”
Police said the shooter was not in sight. He was killed within minutes of officers arriving at the scene.
Edmondson told NBC News that Long did not make the 911, and investigators do not think the woman who made the call was an accomplice.
“It was someone who was calling in,” Edmondson told NBC, saying there “was no indication” the caller was “trying to lure someone here.”
Video from the scene showed a heavy police presence, with SWAT officers and other law enforcement flooding the area after the shooting.
Officers could be seen carrying rifles as helicopters circled above the scene.
The investigation into the shooting is ongoing.
3. He Declared Himself a ‘Sovereign Citizen’ in Court Documents, Claiming to Be Part of the Washitaw Nation
Long posted a Youtube video on July 8, called “I am NOT affiliated with Anyone!”
He said in the brief video that, “if anything happens with me – because I’m an alpha male, I stand up, I stand firm and I stand for mine til the end, til the last day in this flesh, but I’m not the flesh, I’m not the body, I have a body – but I just want to let ya’ll know, don’t affiliate me with nothing.” He said, “I’m affiliated with the spirit of justice, nothing else.”
The video and that account have since been suspended by Youtube. You can watch the video below:
While Long says in the video he is not affiliated with any groups, CNN is reporting police found a membership card appearing to show he belonged to a black sovereign citizen group, the Washitaw Nation of Mu’urs:
The Southern Poverty Law Center wrote about the Washitaw Nation in 1999. Sovereign citizens believe they are exempt from federal and state laws, including those requiring them to pay taxes. The FBI has classified them as a domestic threat.
Long declared himself to be a sovereign citizen in court documents, obtained by the Kansas City Star, which were filed last year in Jackson County, Missouri:
“No doubt at all, He’s 100 percent sovereign citizen,” J.J. MacNab, an expert on anti-government extremists, told the Star, saying he fell into the Moorish Sovereign category, which includes the Washitaw Nation of Mu’urs. “This group believes that they are indigenous to the continent and therefore above all federal, state and local laws. These documents show Long’s attempt to separate his flesh and blood ‘indigenous’ self from his legal entity self.”
4. He Served in the Marines, Including a Tour in Iraq, for 5 Years Before He Was Discharged in 2010
Long served in the Marine Corps, CBS News reports. He left the Marines in 2010 with an honorable discharge as a sergeant at the E-5 level. He served for five years, and was deployed to Iraq from June 2008 to January 2009.
He wrote about his time in the Marines on his website, saying, he reached the rank of sergeant “in less than three years as one of the Corps most physically fit and disciplined Marines. During his five years as a Marine, Cosmo spent two years in Japan and did one tour in Iraq. While stationed in San Diego, California, Cosmo became a highly esteemed and sought after nutritionist and personal trainer.”
The 25-year-old gunman who killed five police officers in Dallas earlier this month, Micah Xavier Johnson, had also served in the military.
Long was a data network specialist in the Marines, according to records. He was discharged for medical reasons after spending some time in the hospital with a physical injury, military officials told the Kansas City Star. Details of the injury were not released.
Public records show Long has lived in Kansas City and Grandview, Missouri. He has also lived in San Diego, California, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. No ties to Louisiana have been found.
A reporter from Kansas City says she went to the address where Long lived and was met by someone armed with a gun:
The neighborhood was later shut down by police and a standoff was reported at the home listed as Long’s last known address, KMBC-TV reported.
No one answered at a number listed for Long.
5. He Dropped Out of College for a ‘Spiritual’ Trip to Africa, His ‘Ancestral Homeland’
Long was listed as a Dean’s List student at the University of Alabama in 2012, according to the school’s website. The university has confirmed he was a student there for one semester.
He said on his his Linkedin profile that he graduated from Central Texas College in 2011 with an associate’s degree, and also studied at Clark Atlanta University from 2012 to 2013.
On his website, Long wrote that he dropped out of college, sold his two cars and gave away his material possessions to journey to Africa, his “ancestral homeland,” after a “spiritual revelation.” While there, he wrote three books, he said on the website:
While in Africa, Cosmo’s spiritual journey took him across Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, Ghana and Burkina Faso. During that time he frequented the highly treasured and revered mountainous regions of Africa and was taught by Africa’s native spiritual practitioners and elder holistic healers.
Cosmo has been an avid student of nutrition, health, fitness, personal transformation and spiritual mastery since the age of sixteen. He conducts sports nutrition workshops locally, nationally, and internationally. He has traveled nationally to over thirty States in the U.S., and internationally to The Bahamas, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Maldives (Island country near India), Iraq, and Africa to name a few.
In addition to over twelve years of health, fitness, and nutrition experience, Cosmo also has extensive sports nutrition, life-coach, and spiritual counseling experience with fitness enthusiasts, professional athletes and spiritual seekers. In one-on-one sessions, he coaches his clients on ways to create a daily food plan that is successful and can be maintained over the long-term. He also helps them reach their optimal weight, diet, spiritual and personal growth goals.
No criminal record for Long could be found in Missouri.