Baton Rouge police shooter Gavin Long joined the Marines, served in Iraq and earned a Good Conduct Medal. He was an entrepreneur, a self-published author, a nutrition and fitness counselor, and a proponent of the gospel of self-improvement, the New York Times reports. He considered himself a lifestyle coach, even though he had failed in marriage, neglected to pay his taxes and was, at one point, living on $500 per month. He had embarked on a spiritual quest to find his roots as a black man, traveling around Africa for two years.
Long’s life also became “a web of paranoid ideas, a professed allegiance to an antigovernment ‘sovereign citizen’ group and a belief that bloodshed was a better tool than peaceful protest in the fight against oppression,” the Times says. On Sunday, Long died on his 29th birthday in a parking lot just off a commercial street in a shootout with police. He killed three law enforcement officers and wounded three others. Officials said Long had targeted officers, though his motives otherwise remained murky. Long had been a resident of Kansas City, Mo., and it is unclear what he was doing in Baton Rouge, though a video that appears to have been posted by him shows him in the Louisiana capital discussing the July 5 fatal police shooting of a fellow African American, Alton Sterling. In an interview with a podcast host in March, Long identified himself as a member of the online community of so-called targeted individuals, people who believe they are being harassed with mind-control weapons and by armies of stalkers.