The gunman who attacked a half-dozen law enforcement officers on Sunday in Baton Rouge, killing three and wounding three others, has been identified as Gavin Eugene Long, a former Marine who assumed an extremist persona online and became increasingly outspoken after the controversial shooting death of Alton Sterling, according to state and federal law enforcement officials.
Long's military record matches that of an online persona named Cosmo Setepenra, who refers to himself on his website and elsewhere on the Internet as a “spiritual advisor,” life coach and author who reported having been in Dallas during the protests and commented on the Sterling killing by an officer in Baton Rouge.
Setepenra's online biographies say he was a Marine who was deployed to Iraq and was stationed in San Diego and Japan, which matches the Pentagon's description of Long's service.
Long, who had achieved the rank of sergeant, enlisted in 2005 and was deployed to Iraq three years later, according to his military record. He left the military in August 2010.
He carried out on the attack on his birthday.
One was once injured trying to save a toddler from a burning building. Another helped chase …
Last week, on his YouTube series called Convos with Cosmo, he posted a video called “Protesting, Oppression and how to deal with Bullies”, where he discussed Sterling’s shooting and the subsequent protest.
“If y’all wanna keep protesting, do that, but for the serious ones, the real ones, the alpha ones, we know what it’s going to take. It’s only fighting back of money, that’s all they care about,” he said. “Revenue and blood. Revenue and blood. Revenue and blood. Revenue and blood. Nothing else.”
Long posted another rambling YouTube video titled "3 principles for my people" in which he urged viewers not to "get emotional" about recent current events but to make a "lifestyle change." In the recording, he refers to himself as a "buffer between the bully and the victim."
"Don't get emotional about it," Long says in the video. "When you make decisions that are based off emotion, when that emotion dies, then that fuel dies that energy for that decision. That's why you base your decisions off logic."
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He railed against police violence, complaining that officers are rarely, if ever, charged in fatal shootings. In one Twitter post, he uploaded "bodycam footage" he said he had recorded in Dallas three days after five officers were fatally shot there. In that rambling video, he says he had been "out in the streets educating our people" about their "purpose."
"Power doesn't respect weakness," he wrote in a Twitter message two days after Sterling's shooting death. "Power only respects power."
In another Twitter post, he wrote, "You can't talk (or protest) the devil into changing his ways, this has never been done and never will."
After the Dallas shooting, he wrote, "The Shooter was NOT WHITE, He was one of us! # My religion is Justice."
Three weeks ago, Long boasted in an Instagram post that he had received fan mail from a listener to his recordings from as far away as Nigeria. "It touches my heart," he posted under a photograph of himself.
On his business websites, including one called CosmoGlobal, he billed himself as a “nutritionist, life coach, dietitian, personal trainer, author and spiritual adviser.”
The University of Alabama confirmed Long was a student for one semester in 2012 and made the dean’s list. Monica Greppin Watts, a university spokeswoman, said university police had no interaction with him while he was a student.
In his online biography he said he also got an associate’s degree in General Studies at Central Texas College and spent a year and a half at Clark Atlanta University, before 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,” which he called his ancestral homeland.
In Africa, he said, he visited Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, Ghana and Burkina Faso.
Long also said he authored a few self help books, with titles like “The Laws of the Cosmos: Wisely follow or blindly suffer-the Definitive law guide to spiritual success.”
The book description reads: “Be thy own master—control your fate, your destiny and your luck. Let The Laws of The Cosmos guide you to wealth, prosperity, balance, and a greater understanding of who you are in the universe.”
Long was married to a woman named Aireyona Osha Hill in Jackson County, Missouri in 2009 and divorced her in 2011, according to court records.
A reporter with the Kansas City Star knocked on the door of a home once listed as a residence for Long and was greeted by a man with a gun who declined to comment, according to the newspaper.
Allison Padilla-Goodman, a regional director with the Anti-Defamation League in New Orleans, said there has been no credible information yet linking Long to any known extremist groups. "We are currently looking into Gavin Long and his alias," she said, adding there are "still lots of rumors."