Police shooter once Nation of Islam, committed to 'religion of justice'

by Gregory Tomlin |

(REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman)Law enforcement personnel gather near the scene where police officers were shot in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, July 17, 2016.

UPDATED: July 18, 2016, at 10:24 a.m. (Central)

BATON ROUGE (Christian Examiner) – The gunman who opened fire on Louisiana police officers Sunday, killing three and wounding three others, admitted in a video that he was once a member of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam and associated with other black power groups, but he said he should not be identified with anything except what he called "the religion of justice."

Gavin Eugene Long, 29, of Kansas City, Missouri, a self-described "nutritionist, life coach, dietitian, personal trainer, author and spiritual advisor" with no formal training in any of the fields, wrote three books on black spirituality and self-improvement for "melanated people" under the name of Cosmo Setrepena. He was a former Marine.

Police responded to a 911 call in Baton Rouge early Sunday morning that a man was seen about a mile from police headquarters carrying an assault rifle. Authorities now believe the call may have been bogus and meant to draw a large number of officers at the scene.

This is important. I wanted to let y'all know. If anything happen with me, if I stand firm and stand for mine till the end, to the last day in this flesh – but I'm not the flesh, I'm not the body, I have a body – I wanna just let y'all know. Don't affiliate me with nothing. I'm not affiliated with the Black Business School, even though I might promote they business, any of my friends, any of my associations. Those are just associations. I'm not affiliated with it. Yeah, I was also a Nation of Islam member. I'm not affiliated with it. Don't affiliate me with The Money Team.
- Gavin Eugene Long

Three officers died in Long's ambush, including Sr. Corporal Montrell Jackson and Matthew Gerald of the Baton Rouge Police Department, and East Baton Rouge Parrish Sheriff's Deputy Brad Garafola. Jackson, 32 and a black officer, was a new father. Gerald, 41 and also a Marine, was the father of two. Garafola, 45, was a father of four.

Long, who was killed by police on his birthday, was a social media hound. He hosted a web broadcast under the same pseudonym he used for his books. In recent days, he posted several videos which hinted he might have been planning the attack.

WARNING: Following the link to the web broadcast or YouTube channel leads to a site with vulgar and sexually suggestive language.

In one video, posted July 8 – the day after Micah Xavier Johnson opened fire on Dallas police officers, killing five and wounding eight – Long said, "I thought my own thoughts. I made my own decisions. I'm the one gotta listen to the judgment. That's it and my heart is pure."

"This is important. I wanted to let y'all know. If anything happen with me, if I stand firm and stand for mine till the end, to the last day in this flesh – but I'm not the flesh, I'm not the body, I have a body – I wanna just let y'all know. Don't affiliate me with nothing," Long said.

"I'm not affiliated with the Black Business School, even though I might promote they business, any of my friends, any of my associations. Those are just associations. I'm not affiliated with it. Yeah, I was also a Nation of Islam member. I'm not affiliated with it. Don't affiliate me with The Money Team."

Long also claimed he had been to Africa "getting in tune with himself" but had no ties to the Islamic State.

In a separate video on the channel, also dated July 8, Long said he wasn't going to spend time discussing the shooting of Dallas police officers, but he called Johnson's assault on police "justice."

"My religion is the religion of justice. I might wear the Ankh, I might – you know I was a Christian once. I was a Muslim once. But my religion is justice," Long said.

He was also active on Twitter. On July 10, Long wrote, "You can't talk (or protest) the devil into changing his ways, this has never been done and never will # 1.Exact Justice (Blood) or 2.Revenue."

On July 13, he wrote, "Violence is not THE answer (it is a answer), but at what point do you stand up so that your people don't become the Native Americans ... EXTINCT?"

Then, the day before the shooting in Baton Rouge, he sent what was presumably his final tweet on the social media site:

"Just bc [because] you wake up every morning doesn't mean that you're living. And just bc you shed your physical body doesn't mean that you're dead."

Long listed an extensive biography on Amazon.com, where his three books were for sale. In the bio, he claims he earned the rank of E-5 (Sergeant) in the U.S. Marine Corps and was "one of the Corps most physically fit Marines." He also claims to have served one tour in Iraq.

He also claimed to have attended Central Texas College and Clark Atlanta University – a historically black university – before dropping out following "a spiritual revelation."

He reportedly sold his two cars, gave away his possessions and traveled to Africa, his "ancestral homeland."

"While in Africa, Cosmo's spiritual journey took him across Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, Ghana and Burkina Faso. During that time he frequented the highly treasured and revered mountainous regions of Africa and was taught by Africa's native spiritual practitioners and elder holistic healers," Long's (Setrepena's) biography reads.