Accessibility links

USA

Baton Rouge Mourns Slain Officer With Vigil

  • Chris Hannas

People hold up their hands in prayer during a candlelight vigil for fallen Baton Rouge police officers at the Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Monday, July 18, 2016.

People hold up their hands in prayer during a candlelight vigil for fallen Baton Rouge police officers at the Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Monday, July 18, 2016.

A community in the southern U.S. state of Louisiana held a vigil Monday night honoring one of three police officers killed by a former U.S. Marine.

Hundreds of people gathered at a church in Baton Rouge for what has become a familiar ritual of grief and support both there and in other places across the country.

"You know the person that perpetrated the events on Sunday was not even from our community here in Baton Rouge or from the state of Louisiana so I think our community is very strong, we're very united, doesn't mean we don't have problems, we'll address those problems as a community and I think we were doing that and people that come in from outside our community to cause trouble have no place here," Baton Rouge resident Corey Sylvest said.

Military officials identified the masked gunmen who shot the officers Sunday as Gavin Long of Kansas City, Missouri. He served in the Marines from 2005 to 2010, including a deployment to Iraq.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said during a press conference Monday that Long's actions were "pure, unadulterated evil."

"He came here from somewhere else to do harm to our community, specifically to lawmakers in our community," the governor said.

A police chaplain pays his respects July 18, 2016, at a makeshift memorial at the fatal shooting scene in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where three law enforcement officers were ambushed and killed by a lone gunman on Sunday.

A police chaplain pays his respects July 18, 2016, at a makeshift memorial at the fatal shooting scene in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where three law enforcement officers were ambushed and killed by a lone gunman on Sunday.

Police said Long appears to have "used social media extensively" including up to the time of the attack.

Long's online identity was the name Cosmos. His website ConvosWithCosmos.com features his blog and podcasts about nutrition, fitness and personal transformation, as well as information about his personal coaching fees and links to his"self-actualization" books sold on Amazon.

One of the ramblings posted on Long's Twitter account on July 13 read: "At what point do you stand up so that your people don't become the Native Americans . . . EXTINCT?"

His postings sometimes described violence as an answer to what he viewed as oppression of African Americans.

He says on the site that he had a "spiritual revelation that resulted in him dropping out of college, selling his two cars, giving away all of his material possessions, packing two suitcases and journeying to Africa - his ancestral homeland."

A tweet on his account Saturday, the day before the Baton Rouge attack, read: "And just bc (because) you shed your physical body doesn't mean that you're dead."

The director of the Center on Extremism for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Oren Segal, said there was no information linking Long to any extremist groups, but the ADL and others were investigating Long's use of aliases.

Long was killed in a shootout with police after killing two Baton Rouge police officers - Montrell Jackson and Matthew Gerald - and one officer of the East Baton Rouge sheriff's office - Brad Garafola.

Police officers attend a church service after a fatal shooting of Baton Rouge policemen, at Saint John the Baptist Church in Zachary, Louisiana, July 17, 2016.

Police officers attend a church service after a fatal shooting of Baton Rouge policemen, at Saint John the Baptist Church in Zachary, Louisiana, July 17, 2016.

A fourth officer, a deputy sheriff, remains in critical condition after undergoing emergency surgery. Two other officers received hospital treatment for non-life threatening wounds.

State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said an investigation is ongoing "with a lot of moving parts."

Speaking alongside Edmonson, Governor Edwards sought to assure Baton Rouge residents still grappling with the July 5 police shooting of a black man that sparked widespread protests in cities across the country. Long, Sunday's shooter, was black. One of the officers killed Sunday, Jackson, was black, and the other two were white.

President Barack Obama, speaking on national television, condemned the killings, saying such attacks "are happening far too often." He called on Americans to "avoid divisive rhetoric" in the aftermath of the latest violence, which he earlier had described as "cowardly attacks on public servants, on the rule of law, and on civil society."

XS
SM
MD
LG