What We Know About the Baton Rouge Police Shooter

Gavin Eugene Long, also known as "Cosmo," was a former US Marine connected to a fringe political movement.

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Jul 18 2016, 2:00pm

Gavin Eugene Long hosting "Convos with Cosmo" prior to his attack on police in Baton Rouge. Screencap via YouTube

The man who violently plunged America further into the swamp of toxic racial tension this weekend by killing three cops in Baton Rouge and wounding three more was a 29-year-old former marine sergeant who called himself "Cosmo."

Born Gavin Eugene Long, the veteran identified as belonging to the United Washitaw De Dugdahmoundyah Mu'ur nation, a "sovereign citizens" group that is skeptical US laws actually apply to them, the Guardian reported. But whereas the assault in Dallas that killed five officers and wounded seven more was clearly the work of a deranged gunman out to kill white police, Long's inspiration was a bit less readily apparent.

The latest disturbing episode to shake the national fabric began when police responded to reports of a man with a gun about a mile from police headquarters just before 9 AM Sunday morning, and found themselves in a deadly firefight.

"I heard probably ten to 12 gunshots go off," Mark Clements, who lives near the shopping center and gas station that served as the site of the shooting, told the New York Times. "We heard a bunch of sirens and choppers and everything since then." Two of those killed were Baton Rouge city cops, while the third was from the local sheriff's office. The wounded were likewise split between the two jurisdictions.

Long was killed on the scene by return fire. He reportedly wore body armor and all black. Though it was initially unclear if he was part of a larger plot, he is now believed to have acted alone.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump wasted little time after the attack to reiterate his fandom of American police, though he struck a somewhat more somber tone than usual. "How many law enforcement and people have to die because of a lack of leadership in our country?" he asked on Facebook. "We demand law and order."

The candidate also referred to the country as a "divided crime scene."

For her part, Hillary Clinton, Trump's Democratic opponent, issued a statement decrying that the "devastating assault on police officers in Baton Rouge is an assault on all of us....We must not turn our backs on each other. We must not be indifferent to each other. We must all stand together to reject violence and strengthen our communities."

The media has begun sifting through Long's lengthy online history. CBS News reported that Long, who did a one-year stint in Iraq in 2008 while serving in the armed forces, described himself in some videos as a nutritionist, life coach, and personal trainer. But he had also rejected nonviolent protest in the days before his death, calling the Dallas police massacre "justice" in one of many video missives.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Long operated a Twitter account "Convos with Cosmo" and seemed to be increasingly radicalized after the police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota. He claimed to travel to Africa, where he apparently made a video explaining what it's really like to be a black American.

"It's only fighting back or money, that's all they care about—revenue and blood," he said.

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