‘Militarized tactics saved lives here’ – Baton Rouge police chief
In what Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson described as a “calculated act,” Gavin Long, a 29-year-old former Marine, shot and killed three police officers and left three others injured.
“There is no doubt whatsoever that these officers were intentionally targeted and assassinated,” Edmonson said in a news conference on Monday.
Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie defended the city’s police department, saying, “Our ‘militarized tactics,’ as they’re being called, saved lives here. That shot, that our SWAT team made, was a hell of a shot. But it had to be made.”
During the conference, officials noted that Long prepared for the shooting by traveling all the way from Kansas City, Missouri, where he rented a car, then drove to Texas. Based on his YouTube videos, where he claims to be in Dallas on July 10, it is surmised that he then drove to Baton Rouge, where he spent six days before going to on the attack at a carwash and gas station popular with police.
“He came here from somewhere else to do harm to our community, and specifically the law enforcement officers in our community,” said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D).
Authorities also addressed the use of the SWAT team and other militarization tactics used by police forces. Long was stopped only when he was shot and killed by a SWAT team.
“After he was finished here, I have no doubt he was headed to our headquarters, and he was going to take more lives,” Dabadie said.
The press conference also cleared the air over who placed the initial 911 call that some believed Long had used to lure the officers towards him. In fact, emergency calls were made from the public, not from Long.
"I could not be more proud of these officers" - Baton Rouge Police Chief
Respect was also paid to the officers that lost their lives on Sunday. Dabadie said, "They went to the fire. They didn't run, they didn't go in the other direction. They went straight to it. I could not be more proud of these officers."
Montrell Jackson, 32, had taken to Facebook earlier this month to plea for peace, saying, “These are trying times. Please don't let hate infect your heart. This city MUST and WILL get better.”
Jackson was also the father to a four-month-old son. In 2007, Jackson suffered an injury as a result of saving a toddler from a burning building, the Advocate reported.
Officer Matthew Gerald, 41, was also killed by Long. He had served in the military as both an Army and Marine veteran. In fact, Gerald was a Black Hawk crew chief.
East Baton Rouge Deputy Sheriff Brad Garafola left behind a wife and four children. He spent 24 years serving on the force and finished his last shift before going on a vacation that was planned to start on Monday. His wife, Tonya, described him to the Advocate as a jack-of-all-trades and a reliable friend.
“Everybody on this street depended on him,” she said. “He loved staying outside and fixing things. Besides the sheriff's office, that was his passion.”
“Deputy Garafola died as a hero,” East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux III said. “My deputy went down fighting.”
Nicholas Tullier, 41, was shot in the head and stomach. He is currently in the Intensive Care Unit.
“He’s in very, very critical condition,” Dabadie said. “He’s not in good shape at all.”
Bruce Simmons, 51, was shot as well. The bullet shattered the bone between his shoulder to elbow, where he now has a titanium rod. His injuries are non-life-threatening, along with an unidentified 41-year-old officer, who was not named.
Whatever compelled Long to open fire on the officers on his 29th birthday still remain to be seen.
“We’re trying to figure out his motive. We’re trying to figure out why he would commit this heinous crime,” Slaton said.
Governor Edwards added, “The violence, the hatred just has to stop.”