Law enforcement authorities described in detail Monday how a heavily armed Kansas City man stalked Baton Rouge police officers and sheriff’s deputies before being killed by a 100-yard rifle shot by a SWAT officer Sunday morning.
The description of the attack, which left three dead and three wounded, offered the most specific information on what police are calling an ambush.
“There is no doubt whatsoever that these officers were intentionally targeted and assassinated,” Col. Michael Edmonson, superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, said. “It was a calculated act.”
Officials here confirmed that Gavin Long of Kansas City was thought to have been the only active shooter that day. He apparently rented a Chevrolet Malibu in Missouri before arriving in Louisiana, and authorities said they didn’t think he had been alone in the “several days” he was in Baton Rouge.
Investigators said they were still working to learn whether Long had co-conspirators in Baton Rouge. And still unknown was exactly how much time Long spent in Baton Rouge before the shootings, whom he was in contact with and what he did in the days before he opened fire on police on a stretch of highway just a few minutes away from a police station.
“It’s a puzzle,” Edmonson said.
But local, state and federal officials all said they had no doubt that Long set out to target police specifically, noting that surveillance video shows an armed Long passing by citizens on the street, ignoring them, during the attack.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards placed the blame squarely on Long as an outside intruder, saying that it had been days since protests in Baton Rouge had resulted in any arrests, and few incidents of serious violence had been reported since the Alton Sterling shooting on July 5.
Long “came in here from somewhere else to do harm to our community,” Edwards said. “This was a diabolical attack on the very fabric of our society.”
Meanwhile, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux said his deputy Nicholas Tullier, who was shot in the head and stomach, is in “very, very critical condition.”
“It’s in God’s hands,” Gautreaux said. “We’ll just have to see what happens, but he’s not in good shape at all.”
Another officer is still being treated for a gunshot wound, and the third injured man has been released from the hospital.
The detailed timeline of events that police described Monday was partly based on surveillance video that captured portions of the shooting, which was reported about 8:40 a.m. Sunday when a citizen called 911 to report “a dude with a rifle” walking around outside a convenience store near a busy intersection.
Long, acting on his 29th birthday, apparently was waiting for law officers.
“There were citizens walking through all through the area, he … completely dismissed every single one,” Edmonson said, using a map to show Long’s movements. “His intentions were accurate, and they were engaging, and they were all aimed at police officers.”
Long, armed with two rifles and a handgun, made at least two tentative approaches toward law enforcement before opening fire. After walking up to a law enforcement vehicle but finding it empty, he appeared to head toward a police officer vacuuming his car at a nearby car wash, but the officer left, apparently unaware of Long.
The shooting started when Long turned the corner of the building and confronted two law enforcement officers and shot them both, killing one and wounding the other. The wounded officer began crawling away. As a sheriff’s deputy moved to help that officer, Long shot and killed him.
He then turned his weapon at the wounded officer and fired two shots, killing that officer.
As other officers converged, Long continued firing, at one point moving quickly on foot and climbing over a wall to take up a new position from which to shoot.
Gautreaux said he believed the killing would have continued, and Long might have escaped, if not for the quick action of Baton Rouge SWAT officers, one of whom killed Long with a long-distance shot from a rifle in what police officials praised as a feat of marksmanship.
“That shot that our SWAT team made was a helluva shot, but it had to be made,” said Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie.
A portion of the police radio traffic from the shooting was posted online at www.broadcastify.com/news/20. Some of the content of the recording is explicit.
With Long dead, investigators began trying to retrace his movements and could only speculate about the specific motivations that drove him that day.
Now the area where the shooting took place is a crime scene hundreds of yards long, and even as businesses opened again Monday, bloodstains could be seen in the parking lots, and bullet holes marked the walls and windows of several buildings.
Investigators have several sets of clues to follow in retracing Long’s steps.
The three guns Long left behind — an IWI Tavor bullpup rifle, a Springfield XD 9 mm handgun and a Stag Arms M4 variant similar to what he would have used as a Marine — are in a crime lab, and police hope to find where and how Long obtained them.
A spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said the bureau’s office in Kansas City is investigating how Long obtained the weapons.
John Ham said the Kansas City office is coordinating the investigation with agents in Baton Rouge. On Monday, he said it was too early to say what investigators had found.
“It’s still very much a fluid part of the investigation,” Ham said.
A variety of information may be gleaned from Long’s cellphone and from the rented car.
Investigators said they were still looking for a small number of people for questioning.
In addition to the local agencies and the ATF, the investigation now includes the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. attorney’s office.
Law enforcement officials on Monday said they weren’t prepared to conclude that Long was driven by anger over the recent fatal police shooting of Sterling or the protests that followed it, but they were looking hard at online posts that appeared to show Long expressing anger about racism and police brutality, and about the Sterling killing specifically.
Nor have investigators here confirmed reports that Long recently visited Dallas to market his self-help books and life-coaching services.
The location of the ambush — a convenience store on an ordinary piece of highway on the eastern side of the city — offered few obvious clues except its proximity to Baton Rouge police headquarters and the likelihood that officers would make pit stops there on a Sunday morning.
Long’s plan might have been to continue the shooting spree to the police station, officials said, and he may have spent time in Baton Rouge scouting out locations for the shooting.
Frank Cooper, who works at a garage near the scene of the shooting, said the convenience store was an ideal target for someone wanting to catch police off-guard. It’s less than a mile from police headquarters, and uniformed officers often stop there for coffee before their shifts.
Cooper said he guessed that it’s unlikely someone from out of town would have known about the spot.
On Monday the convenience store was open again, and a patch of grass in front of it became the scene of small, impromptu memorials to the slain officers.
The Star’s Tony Rizzo contributed to this report.