The gunman who killed three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was “seeking out” police officers, law enforcement officials said Monday.
The suspect, identified as 29-year-old Gavin Eugene Long, “came to do harm” to police, authorities said. One of the officers killed was Marine veteran Matthew Gerald.
“Its not justice for Alton Sterling or anyone else,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said at a press conference in Baton Rouge, the state capital. “It’s just pure, unadulterated evil.”
Long was a former sergeant in the US Marines and had received myriad awards, such as the Good Conduct Medal, the Pentagon told dpa.
Colonel Mike Edmonson, a superintendent for the Louisiana State Police, said that Long had “meticulously” planned the killing of the police officers, coming to the city days in advance, bringing multiple firearms and selecting a specific location and strategy to shoot the officers.
“It’s chilling – the sheer brutality of this shooting,” Edmonson said during the press conference Monday. “There’s no doubt that this attack was an ambush.”
Long killed three officers and wounded three more during the shootout. He was killed in the exchange of gunfire with police.
The department’s military-grade weaponry and training, which have been criticized by protestors, saved lives on Sunday, Police chief Carl Dabadie said.
“People ask why we need militarized tactics,” Dabadie said. “This is why.”
Long was a resident of the Midwestern city of Kansas City, Missouri, and had travelled to Louisiana, according the Kansas City Star newspaper.
The shooting came 10 days after a gunman opened fire on police at a rally in Dallas against police violence, killing five officers. The attacker was later slain by police.
The July 7 Dallas shooting came two days after the killing of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, an unarmed African-American who was tackled and shot by police outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge.
On July 6, Philando Castile, 32, died after being shot four times by a police officer during a traffic stop near Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Long, an African-American had an active online media presence, calling himself Cosmo Setepenra with an advice programme called Convos with Cosmo.
He had been outspoken about the Sterling killing and claimed to be in Dallas during the attack on police there. In 2015 he had declared himself a “sovereign citizen.”
In an online posting after the Dallas attack, Long said protesting injustice was futile. “It has never worked and it never will. You got to fight back,” the Star reported.
The Baton Rouge and Minneapolis incidents inflamed tensions among minority communities over police killings in the last two years.
The US Justice Department will continue to investigate the case, US Attorney Walter Green said.