A former U.S. Marine sergeant who served in Iraq has been identified as the gunman who killed three police officers and wounded three others in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Sunday, according to a government source with knowledge of the investigation.
Another source familiar with the investigation told Reuters the suspect, Gavin Long, 29, was from Kansas City, Missouri. The source said there was reason to believe a 911 call may have been used to lure police to the shooting scene, and that the possibility it had been a conspiracy was being examined by investigators.
Officials speaking publicly have not yet released the name of the suspected killer or any details, beyond saying they believed the single shooter was killed in the shootout.
Long, who was black, was affiliated with the anti-government New Freedom Group, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person briefed on the investigation. A spokeswoman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, said she had no information about that.
Sunday was Long’s 29th birthday, according to the Kansas City Star newspaper.
He served in the Marines for five years, from August 2005 to August 2010, and rose to the rank of sergeant, according to Yvonne Carlock, deputy public affairs officer for the U.S. Marines. Long was deployed to Iraq from June 2008 to January 2009.
CBS News reported that Long left the Marines with an honorable discharge. Carlock would not confirm that detail.
Public records show Long had lived in Kansas City and Grandview, Missouri, as well as San Diego and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
In Kansas City, police cordoned off streets within a block or more of the house where Long lived in a working-class neighborhood of mostly black residents.
Bob Phillips, 24, had lived across the street from Long for a month but said he did not know him. Phillips said he was surprised to hear that Long lived nearby.
“It’s a quiet neighborhood, kids out playing,” he said.
Missouri court records show Long divorced his wife in 2011, with no children at the time. There was no criminal record for him in Missouri.
Long was a defendant in a case involving delinquent city taxes. It was filed in March and was dismissed in June, according to court records.
Long attended the University of Alabama for one semester in spring 2012 and made the Dean’s List, according to university spokeswoman Monica Watts.
“The university police had no interaction with him while he was a student,” she said in an email.
Brady Vancel, a witness to the Baton Rouge shooting on Sunday, said on CNN that he ran into the suspect, who was dressed in black, a few minutes before the police officers were shot. The man was carrying an AR-15 assault rifle and wearing a ski mask, Vancel said.
The gunman “looked up and he saw me. We stopped, I froze, he froze for a second, and he turned around and ran in the opposite direction the same time I turned around and ran in the opposite direction,” Vancel said.