Police searching for motive in Baton Rouge shooting

Shooting | Investigators are asking anyone who knew shooter Gavin Long to come forward
by Leigh Jones
Posted 7/18/16, 08:58 am

Investigators in Baton Rouge, La., are interviewing people who knew the man who shot and killed three officers there Sunday morning, and they are asking others to come forward.

Today, state police Col. Mike Edmonson said shooter Gavin Long certainly targeted the six officers he shot. One of the three wounded officers remains in critical condition today.

“His movements, his direction, his attention was on police officers,” Edmonson said.

The slain officers have been named as 32-year-old Montrell Jackson, a 10-year police veteran; 41-year-old Matthew Gerald, a rookie of less than a year; and 45-year-old Brad Garafola, a 24-year veteran of the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.

Long, who died at the scene after a shootout with responding officers, was a former Marine who lived in Kansas City, Mo. He launched his attack, wearing all black and carrying extra ammunition, less than a mile from police headquarters. Sunday was his 29th birthday.

He apparently came to Baton Rouge less than two weeks after a white police officer shot and killed an African-American man outside a convenience store, sparking ongoing protests. Long was black, as was one of the officers he killed. The other two were white.

Police arrested two “persons of interest” in a nearby town after the shooting but later released them. Although investigators believe Long acted alone, they don’t know yet whether he had help.

“We are not ready to say he acted alone,” state police spokesman Major Doug Cain said.

During his time in the Marines as a data network specialist, Long earned several medals, including one for good conduct. He served from 2005 to 2010 and spent eight months in Iraq, starting in June 2008. He left with an honorable discharge.

Investigators have not speculated on a motive for the attack.

The nephew of Alton Sterling, the black man killed by police July 5, condemned the attack and said his uncle would not have wanted the ongoing violence. During the protests following Sterling’s death, police have arrested 200 people and faced criticism for some of their tactics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Leigh Jones

Leigh is acting managing editor for WORLD Radio. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate who spent six years as a newspaper reporter in Texas before joining WORLD. Leigh also co-wrote Infinite Monster: Courage, Hope, and Resurrection in the Face of One of America's Largest Hurricanes. She resides with her husband and daughter in Houston, Texas.

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  • Steve SoCal
    Posted: Mon, 07/18/2016 12:12 pm

    I'm just concerned about the facts in the reporting here.  I am honestly confused.  I had read and seen reports stating that Alton Sterling was armed (i.e. he had a gun in his pocket).  Has that been shown to be not true?  I thought the reason the police were called was because it was claimed by someone that he had pulled out the gun, and that in fact he had a gun in his pocket when the police were struggling with him.  Was that not true?  But, if he did have a gun, this report should not say that he was unarmed.  Wouldn't police be considered armed, whether their guns are drawn or not?  In light of recent events, I think reporting should be extremely careful in order to not add fuel to the fire on any side with false or unverified information.

  • Hans's picture
    Posted: Mon, 07/18/2016 01:30 pm

    Steve is correct; there is a factual error in this report.

  • Web Editor
    Posted: Mon, 07/18/2016 05:44 pm

    @Steve SoCal and @Hans: Thank you for pointing out the error. The article has been corrected.