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Baton Rouge Shooter, Gavin Long, Dispensed Radical Political Ideology


A portrait of Gavin Long is emerging. He is the man who killed three police officers in Baton Rouge on Sunday. Law enforcement officials are delving into the possible motives behind that attack, which also left three officers injured before Long himself was killed in a shootout with police. It's known that the 29-year-old was a former Marine who'd served in Iraq. As NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports, Gavin Long also considered himself a nutritionist, a life coach, a spiritual adviser and, perhaps more importantly, dispenser of radical political ideology.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: Although both the shooter in Dallas and the shooter in Baton Rouge were ex-military, there were profound differences between Micah Xavier Johnson, who killed five Dallas officers, and Gavin Long, who shot six officers in Baton Rouge. If Johnson struggled to find a new life after he was discharged from the Army, Long was the opposite. He wrote books and made videos trying to advise young black men how to think and lead their lives.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And now, here's your host, Cosmo the Incredible.

GOODWYN: Gavin Long liked to be known as Cosmo Setepenra, a name related to ancient Egypt. Setepenra means chosen by Ra, the Egyptian sun god. In a series of YouTube videos, many called Convos With Cosmo, Long preached a lifestyle of healthy living - eat your vegetables as chips and how to treat women, checking your woman's six and how to think about politics.


GAVIN LONG: What up with y'all? I'm in Dallas right now in the streets giving the knowledge out to my people. Before the police shooting occurred, I had already made the decision to be here.

GOODWYN: A week before he went on his rampage, Long just happened to be in Dallas. From a hotel room, he makes a video that previews his coming rampage.


LONG: Say, for instance, the holiday had just passed - Independence Day. Independence Day is really based on George Washington and the Americans fighting against their oppressor - Britain. And we celebrate that. But when an African fights back, it's wrong. But every time a European fights back against his oppressor, he's right.

GOODWYN: It's impossible to know when exactly Long began to believe that the only answer to white supremacy was violence. But in his videos, that's clearly the case.


LONG: Let's go with the history. One hundred percent of revolutions, of victims fighting their oppressors, have been successful through fighting back, through bloodshed. Zero have been successful just over simply protesting. It has never worked and it never will.

GOODWYN: Having been in Dallas while Micah Xavier Johnson murdered five police officers, Long seems to have been roused. In a tweet, he celebrated - the shooter was not white. He was one of us. My religion is justice.


LONG: You've got to fight back. That's the only way a bully knows to quit. He doesn't know words. If y'all want to keep protesting, do that. But for the serious ones, the real ones, the alpha ones, we know what it's going to take.

GOODWYN: In the video, Long makes it clear that Baton Rouge is already on his mind. He references the ugly confrontation on July 10 between police and protesters at the house of Mrs. Lisa Batiste.


LONG: I see a woman. She's speaking articulately to the crowd, you know, to the - her fellow protesters. She's telling them, yo, what we need to do. And when they see this, they arrest those people even though - even though she know she has the right - and she's saying that, we have the right. You know your rights, but then you got to stand on your rights.

GOODWYN: Law enforcement in Baton Rouge believes Gavin Long had been in town for several days planning his murderous spree. It's not unlikely that soon after making his last YouTube video he drove south out of Dallas, an inspired man, heading for Louisiana. Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Baton Rouge. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Wade Goodwyn is an NPR National Desk Correspondent covering Texas and the surrounding states.
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