Last week an Army combat veteran fired upon police officers in Dallas, Texas, slaying five–among them four other military veterans. Today, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq shot and killed several police officers in Baton Rouge, LA. This is a troubling trend and a terrible act indeed. As the facts of this case and details about this veteran emerge, close attention should be paid to the process which led him to this point.
Along with the three veterans who shot at police these past two weeks there have been a number of other incidents of concern as well. Another Marine Corps veteran died in a suicide by cop incident Two other veterans, one in Wisconsin, another in Iowa also took their lives after the VA failed to admit them during mental health crises. We are failing, failing miserably.
Iraq war veteran identified by law enforcement as a “black separatist” fatally shot three police officers and wounded three others here Sunday, opening another chapter in the racial unrest that has swept some cities and exposed the vulnerability of police.
The gunman, wearing black and carrying an assault rifle, shot the unsuspecting officers along a road that has been the scene of emotional protests sparked by the police shooting less than two weeks ago of a 37-year-old African American man selling CDs outside a local business.
Baton Rouge has been engulfed in racial protests since that shooting, and Sunday’s events plunged the Louisiana capital into further turmoil — even as it was revealed that at least one of the dead officers, Montrell Jackson, the 32-year-old father of a 4-month-old son, was black.
“This is not so much about gun control as it is about what is in men’s hearts,” said East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux III, appealing for the country to set aside its divisions and end the violence. “If we don’t do that, and this madness continues, we will surely perish as a people.”
President Obama, in yet another address to the nation made necessary by a fusillade of bullets in a city split by race, had a similar message: “Only we can prove that we have the grace and the character and the common humanity to end this kind of senseless violence, to reduce fear and mistrust within the American family, to set an example for our children,” he said.
“That’s who we are, and that’s who we always have the capacity to be. And that’s the best way for us to honor the sacrifice of the brave police officers who were taken from us this morning,” the president said.
What we know about Gavin Eugene Long, the Baton Rouge shooter
The gunman was identified as Gavin Eugene Long, a 29-year-old Marine Corps veteran from Kansas City, Mo., who a U.S law enforcement official said had a history as a “black separatist.”