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Baton Rouge gunman posed as spiritual health guru

By Staff Reporter

A gunman who murdered three Louisiana police officers in an ambush on his birthday had written a book in which he offered spiritual and nutritional advice.

State police also officially identified the Baton Rouge gunman as former US Marine Gavin Long, who was killed at the scene. The shooting on Sunday also left three officers injured, one critically.

The shooting, less than a mile from police headquarters, added to the tensions across the country between the black community and police. Long, from Kansas City, Missouri, turned 29 on Sunday, the same day he opened fire.

US President Barack Obama urged people to not to inflame the situation. “We don’t need careless accusations thrown around to score political points or to advance an agenda. We need to temper our words and open our hearts... all of us,” he said.

Long was in the Marines from 2005 to 2010 and served in Iraq, reaching the rank of sergeant. He was awarded several medals, including one for good conduct, and received an honourable discharge.

Under the pen name Cosmo Setepenra, Long claimed in the book that he had a “spiritual revelation” while in college and soon sold his cars and gave away his “material possessions”, packing just two suitcases for a trip to Africa — his “ancestral homeland”. He wrote that he travelled across the continent learning from “native spiritual practitioners and elder holistic healers” and was concerned in particular that people with darker skin lead healthy, holistic lifestyles.

“Not only have we not been taught how to treat our bodies and spirits in order to live a healthy and holistic lifestyle, we have also lost touch with the ancient teachings of our spiritual elders that would help us to live a healthy holistic life in harmony with nature,” he wrote.

Long posted online frequently under the handle ‘Cosmo’ on an eclectic mix of topics. He described himself as a “nutritionist, life coach, dietitian, personal trainer, author and spiritual advisor”.

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