BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Last summer, a military veteran who was angry over the police treatment of black men ambushed law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge, killing three and wounding three before a sniper fatally shot him.
On Friday, District Attorney Hillar Moore III planned to hold a news conference to release videos and a report on the July 17 rampage. Moore’s office reviews all fatal police shootings in the parish to determine whether a killing was legally justified, though in this case there has been no suggestion that officers acted inappropriately.
Police said Gavin Long, a 29-year-old black man from Kansas City, Missouri, sought out law enforcement when he attacked the officers that Sunday morning. Long killed Baton Rouge officers Montrell Jackson, 32, and Matthew Gerald, 41, and East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Garafola, 45.
The attack occurred amid simmering tensions nationwide over the treatment of blacks by police. Just 10 days earlier, a sniper fired on a group of police officers in Dallas, killing five officers and wounding nine others. Two civilians were also wounded. Two days before that, an officer in Baton Rouge killed 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black man, during a struggle that was captured on two cellphone videos and sparked nightly protests in the city.
Police have said Long wore black clothing and a ski mask and was armed with two rifles and a pistol when he parked his rental car near a beauty supply store and approached an empty police vehicle at the convenience store next door.
“Other people, he totally ignored them. He acted like they weren’t even there,” East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said last year.
After Long shot two officers, Garafola drew his gun, took cover behind a trash bin and tried to rescue one of the wounded officers. Long shot him to death and shot the wounded officer twice more at close range.
Long traded gunfire with other officers before a police sniper shot him from more than 100 yards away.
Long served in the Marines from 2005 to 2010, including a seven-month stint in 2008 in Iraq. He was a data network specialist who reached the rank of sergeant before an honorable discharge.
Long never saw combat in Iraq, but he told doctors he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder because a friend showed him videos of maimed and decapitated bodies, medical records showed.
Doctors at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri, diagnosed Long in November 2011 as suffering from an “adjustment disorder with depressed mood,” but not PTSD.
Long had posted rambling internet videos calling for violence in response to police treatment of African-Americans, which he said constituted “oppression.” He also purportedly described his actions as a “necessary evil” in a manifesto that an Ohio man says was sent to him by Long less than an hour before the shootings.
His mother, Corine Woodley, told PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley that her son would “pretty much lose it” and become furious every time he heard about a black man being shot by police in what he considered an unlawful manner.