AP FACT CHECK: No proof of shooting motive as Trump claims

AP News
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Posted: Jul 18, 2016 4:17 PM
AP FACT CHECK: No proof of shooting motive as Trump claims

A key argument Donald Trump makes in his presidential run is that he will keep America safe, both by fighting terrorism overseas and restoring law and order back home in the wake of a series of shootings against police. On Monday, Trump tied the two issues together, suggesting that the shooter in the latest police killing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Sunday was motivated by "radical Islam."

But Trump's comment Monday during an interview on "Fox & Friends," got out far ahead of what law-enforcement and security authorities have said about what may have motivated the man who shot and killed two police officers and one sheriff's deputy. Early indications are that he had no known ties to any radical Islamic group.

A look at what Trump said in the interview and what's known about the shooting so far:

TRUMP: "I mean, you look at so many different fronts, it's, you know, radical Islam, and by the way, he seems to be a member of that group also, seems to be something going on there, but it's very sad what's happening."

THE FACTS: The motive of shooter black Marine veteran Gavin Long is not yet known, although comments and videos he's posted online shed some light on his thinking.

A college-educated former Marine sergeant who served in Iraq, Long considered himself a spiritual leader and revolutionary. He used an online persona known as Cosmo Setepenra to advocate for violence and rant about what he considered oppression.

A court document Long filed when he wanted to legally change his name to Cosmo Setepenra said he belongs to the Washitaw de Dugdahmoundyah, also known as the Washitaw Nation.

The Southern Poverty Law Center on its blog described that as a black anti-government group whose members believe they are indigenous to the United States and beyond the federal government's reach.

FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton told The Associated Press that it's too early to draw conclusions about motives. Local law enforcement authorities in Baton Rouge also have not discussed possible motives for the shootings.

In one video posted online by Setepenra, the man says he doesn't want to be linked to any groups, and mentions once belonging to the Nation of Islam, a group the Southern Poverty Law Center calls deeply racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay and having a "theology of innate black superiority over whites." But it is not associated with the kinds of deadly terrorist attacks around the globe such as those linked to the Islamic State or similar groups.

Moreover, the Baton Rouge attack is being investigated primarily by local authorities. The FBI would be in the lead if terrorism were suspected.