The man who gunned down law enforcement officers Sunday in Baton Rouge planned his approach and stalked his targets.

And after he attacked, officers who had responded to a report of a heavily-armed man ran toward the gunfire to protect the public and save each other, finally taking him down with a remarkable 100-yard shot.

That account was laid out Monday in step-by-step detail in a painstaking news conference explaining how Gavin Eugene Long killed three officers and wounded three others, and how they and their fellow lawmen responded quickly to end the threat.

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"There is no doubt that these officers were intentionally targeted and assassinated," State Police Col. Mike Edmonson said, noting that Long appeared to choose a place where one lawman was working as security for a store, and another was vacuuming his vehicle at a car wash. Long, seen in videos, ignored any civilians who walked by, Edmonson said.

In a chilling account aided by maps and photographs, Edmonson at a news conference Monday described what he called a calculated attack on law enforcement, which was followed by the officers' immediate response. Edmonson stood among his colleagues on a visibly emotional day for officials, some of whom fought back tears in remembrance of the slain officers.

Long rented a Chevrolet Malibu from Missouri and had been in Baton Rouge for several days, Edmonson said, though he did not say whether the gunman -- whose social media profile revealed intense views about recent police shootings -- had attended any of the protests over the past two weeks. Demonstrations about Alton Sterling, who was killed by a Baton Rouge Police officer during an altercation on July 5, had calmed in the days before Long killed the officers.

Edmonson said the officers had all been slain by Long alone, but he added it's unknown whether he had accomplices in some other regard. He said he could not confirm why the Missouri man chose Baton Rouge, whether he had visited Dallas prior to the attack, or if the killer was associated with any groups.

Gov. John Bel Edwards called Long's attack "diabolic" in contrast with the response of the officers who were killed and injured. He noted that for six days prior to the shooting, there had been no arrests in Baton Rouge stemming from the Sterling protests.

"The actions of the law enforcement officers in the Baton Rouge community yesterday were nothing short of heroic. They ran towards danger in order to protect the public. They ran towards danger in order to render aid to fellow officers," Edwards said.

From the moment video cameras captured Long's movements near a cluster of buildings on Airline Highway, he appeared to be focused on police officers, Edmonson said.

Sometime before 8:40 a.m., Long walked in front of Hair Crown Beauty Supply and looked inside an empty, marked police car parked nearby, gun pointed, Edmonson said. The gunman then got into his sedan and drove down Airline until he spotted a Baton Rouge Police officer at Benny's Car Wash, a few storefronts down, prompting him to park his car behind a gym next door, Edmonson said.

Moving "tactically," Edmonson said, Long snuck behind a few buildings and re-emerged around the front of the beauty supply store, this time detected by officers who'd received a call about "a dude with a rifle."

Long fired at two Baton Rouge Police officers who'd been tracking him as he moved about halfway down an alleyway on the south side of the beauty supply store, killing one of the lawmen immediately, said Edmonson. Moments later, the killer turned around 180 degrees and shot another Baton Rouge Police officer standing near the front of the store, wounding him, said the state police leader, who did not identify any of the lawmen by name.

Brad Garafola, a sheriff's deputy, had been approaching from behind the beauty supply store, knowing that officers had been struck. Garafola, who had taken cover behind a dumpster, moved forward to help one of the wounded officers who was "clearly still alive," said East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux III.

As Garafola tried to render aid, Long retraced his steps along the side of the establishment and around the back. He aimed his weapon at Garafola and pulled the trigger as the deputy lay shooting on the ground.

"My deputy went down fighting. He returned fire to the very end. He was laying in a prone position returning fire," Gautreaux said.

Long then discharged two rounds into the hurt officer Garafola had sought to help, killing him.

The two slain Baton Rouge officers were Montrell Jackson and Matthew Gerald.

Long fled back to where he'd parked his car, completing a winding loop behind a B-Quik convenience store to a lot behind Fitness Expo, a gym, Edmonson said. There, deputy Nicholas Tullier was sitting in his vehicle in the midst of looking up the license plate on Long's rented Malibu.

The gunman fired at him. Tullier, who was struck in his head and stomach, is still in critical condition. "He has a machine helping him breathe," Gautreaux said.

Another deputy, Bruce Simmons, was struck by Long while responding near the front of Fitness Expo. He now has a titanium rod in his arm because the bone from his elbow to shoulder in one arm was shattered, Gautreaux said.

Edmonson said Long used an IWI Tavor assault weapon, an Israeli-made military-style rifle used by the Israeli Defense Forces, during the attack on the officers. Authorities said Long also carried a semiautomatic handgun and investigators found an M4-style carbine — a shorter, lighter variant of the popular AR-15-style rifle — in Long's car, though it did not appear either of those weapons were fired during the attack.

After firing his weapon into the six law enforcement officers, Long had positioned himself back by his car. But then a shot by a Baton Rouge Police special response team officer hit its target. Long died at the scene, officials have said.

"That was a hell of a shot," said Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr.

Both Dabadie and Gautreaux emphasized that they believed that if Long had not been killed, he would have gotten in his car and moved on to kill again.

"After he was finished here, I have no doubt he was headed toward our headquarters, and he was going to take more lives," Dabadie said.

Dabadie said he's been heartened by the overwhelming support the agency has received since the shooting. As a former tactical instructor at the academy, he said he's proud of the department's SWAT team.

"They did exactly how they were trained, without hesitation, without fear, but with courage and methodical movement," he said. "They didn't run, they didn't go the other direction, they didn't blow it off. They went straight to it."

He added that the effective response by his SWAT team showed how necessary those officers are during dangerous events.

"We've been questioned for the (past couple) weeks about our militarized tactics and our militarized law enforcement," Dabadie said, referring to critiques of police response to protests in Baton Rouge involving some of his officers in riot gear or carrying military-style rifles. "This is why. Because we are up against a force that is not playing by the rules."

Dabadie also offered moving remembrances of his officers. Gerald, he said, was a husband and a father of two who'd served in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps.

"He spent his whole life serving this country and our city. And he's a hero for everything that he's done," Dabadie said.

Dabadie described Jackson, whose son turned four months old on Monday, as a devoted husband and father. Dabadie said he trained Jackson in the academy for 20 weeks, testing him physically and emotionally, he said.

But his most powerful memory of Jackson was more recent, as officers were in the midst of long days responding to protests following the Sterling shooting.

"A couple of days before this happened, I went down in the Third District, and was talking to the guys trying to lift their spirits. Montrell ended up giving me a pep talk," Dabadie said. "That was the last time I spoke with Montrell, and I'll never forget it. He is a true hero."


What happened during the attack: Movements of shooter and positions of law enforcement

1. Shooter parks vehicle behind Fitness Expo.

2. Shooter moves on foot behind Benny’s Car Wash and B-Quik.

3. Shooter tracks officers, who are searching for him, down a driveway of Hair Crown Beauty Supply.

4. Shooter opens fire, killing an officer: A … and injuring a second: B … then turns and wounds a third officer: C

5. Shooter goes to rear of building, shoots deputy, killing him: D … then fatally shoots injured officer: B

6. Shooter heads back toward vehicle where he shoots a deputy in the head and stomach: E (deputy in critical condition)

7. Shooter opens fire on another deputy, injuring him: F

8. S.W.A.T. officer fires on shooter from over 100 yards away, killing him.


Advocate staff writer Bryn Stole contributed to this report.

Follow Maya Lau on Twitter, @mayalau.

mlau@theadvocate.com