Gavin Long: Baton Rouge shooter’s mother says he would ‘pretty much lose it’ when police killed black men

She told PBS that she believed her son was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after the Iraq war


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The Independent US

The mother of the man who shot dead three police officers in Baton Rouge said her son was distressed by police “unlawfully” shooting black men, and he would “pretty much lose it” whenever he saw another shooting in the news.

Corine Woodley, the mother of shooter Gavin Long, said in her first interview that she believed he was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after he served in the Iraq war.

She showed PBS host Travis Smiley a 2003 letter from the Department of Veteran Affairs which denied her son’s request for PTSD treatment.

She said the police shootings were “definitely” what pushed her son to carry out the killings.

“Each time there was an unlawful police shooting against a person of colour, Gavin would pretty much just lose it,” Ms Woodley said. 

“He would just lose it. He would have to leave the room…[…] He was like: 'I don’t know if I can handle another one of these.'"

She said her son would get upset and do “intense research” each time the police killed a black person.

On Sunday 17 July, he armed himself with two rifles, a pistol and a ski mask and he jumped out at police officers near a gas station. He shot three dead and wounded three more.


Shooter Gavin Long speaking as his online persona Cosmo Setepenra on social media (AP/YouTube)

“I can’t get over the fact that he harmed innocent police officers. On the other hand, Gavin is my son, I love him. I’m not making excuses. I’m very sorry to the families that are having to go through what I’m going through,” she added.

Long, 29, from Kansas City in Missouri, was a five-year veteran of the Marine Corps. 

He was “honorably discharged” after serving one term in Iraq. His mother said he never saw combat but there was “shooting all around”.

His mother said that Long used to rent a car and drive to locations where other black men had been killed by police.

He told her: “Somebody has to do something.”

Long did not blame Black Lives Matter, but he said the protest was not enough to solve the problem of police officers killing black people.

In one of his two personal diaries that his mother brought to the television interview, one sentence read: “If you are not going to let me live, then you are going to have to kill me.”

His mother, who works as a nurse, said Long believed the CIA was following him, even when he spent several years in Africa after he left the military.

A man in Ohio whose YouTube videos Long had commented on and who said he did not know Long personally received a letter from him hours before the killings. The letter did not mention the attack.

The letter - which has not been verified - read: “I know I will be vilified by the media & police.

"I see my actions as a necessary evil that I do not wish to partake in, nor do I enjoy partaking in, but must partake in, in order to create substantial change within America's police force, and judicial system.”