Long shot the police officers, and was killed himself, on his 29th birthday. In photo: Police officers take part in a vigil at St John the Baptist Church in Zachary, Louisiana. Photograph: (Reuters)
He was divorced and living in a working-class neighbourhood. And he made the dean's list in college
A former US Marine sergeant who served in Iraq and made the dean's list in college has been identified as the gunman who killed three police officers and wounded three others in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Sunday, according to a government source with knowledge of the investigation.
The suspect, Gavin Eugene Long, 29, was from Kansas City, Missouri, another source familiar with the investigation told Reuters. Divorced and living in a working-class neighborhood, Missouri records show he had no criminal history.
It was not immediately clear how Long, who was an African-American, ended up in Baton Rouge, where police killed him in a shootout on his 29th birthday, according to media reports. The city has become a flashpoint for protests after police shot and killed Alton Sterling, another African-American, outside a convenience store there on July 5.
A website, social media accounts and YouTube videos that appear tied to Long include complaints about police abuse of African-Americans and indicate he recently joined demonstrations in Dallas, where a former member of the US army reserve, also an African-American, killed five officers two days after Sterling's death.
“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?” Long tweeted on Wednesday.
A website named “convoswithcosmo” that features self-help, health and relationship advice was owned by a Gavin Long at a Kansas City address, according to online records. As of Sunday night, police in Kansas City had cordoned off the block where that address is located. That address also appears in local court records for a Gavin Long in two separate civil cases.
In a YouTube video posted on July 10, the host of “Convos with Cosmos” says he is in Dallas and had gone to the city to join protests there. The man says that African-Americans are oppressed and questions why white American revolutionaries are praised for fighting their oppressors but African ones are not.
Later in the video, he suggests that only violence and financial pressure will cause change.
“We know what it’s going to take. It’s only fighting back or money. That’s all they care about,” he says to the camera. “Revenue and blood, revenue and blood, revenue and blood. Nothing else.”
A government source said federal officials were reviewing the web postings but could not definitively link them to Long.
Decorated military officer
Long was affiliated with the anti-government New Freedom Group, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person briefed on the investigation. A spokeswoman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, said she had no information about such a group.
Reuters was not able to confirm the existence of the New Freedom Group.
Records provided by the US Marines show Long received a number of awards during his five years in the military, including a good conduct medal.
He served in the Marines from August 2005 to August 2010, and rose to the rank of sergeant, according to Yvonne Carlock, deputy public affairs officer for the US Marines. Long was deployed to Iraq from June 2008 to January 2009.
CBS News reported that he left the Marines with an honorable discharge, but Carlock would not confirm that detail.
Public records show Long had lived in Kansas City and Grandview, Missouri, as well as San Diego and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
He divorced his wife in 2011, with no children at the time, according to Missouri court records. A home that appears to be the last-known address for his ex-wife was vacant on Sunday.
No relatives for Long could be reached by phone.
Long was a defendant in a case involving delinquent city taxes that was filed in March and dismissed in June, according to court records.
He attended the University of Alabama for one semester in spring 2012 and made the dean's list for academic achievement, said university spokeswoman Monica Watts.
"The university police had no interaction with him while he was a student," she said in an email.