Before he killed three Baton Rouge cops, Gavin Long drove to Dallas one day after a black veteran like him slaughtered five white police officers. Once there, he recorded himself preaching a message for black men: It’s time to wake up.
Long visited two barbershops with a stack of self-published tomes and a camera clipped to his shirt to record his proselytizing.
“I want to give you something that you can’t lose, something they can’t take from you,” Long stressed to a few distracted barbers (one kept his headphones in) and patrons at the His & Hers Barbershop.
Money was worthless compared to his message.
“You got bills but you gotta get knowledge… You hear what I’m saying?” he asked.
The ad hoc congregation remained sedentary with only one man chiming in, “I hear you, bro.”
“I’m out here for y’all,” Long told them before seeing himself out of the glass doors. “Peace. Salute.”
Then Long tried to inspire a few believers at the Classics Designs Barbershop.
He told everyone there that he was “in these streets” to serve.
“They’re telling you there’s not men like me out here,” he said. “Yeah, we out here. They just never promote it.”
He flouted his beef with the mainstream and submitted that he needed to be out there like a soldier or else his message would get muzzled.
“They want to put some homo stuff up there… They want a softy out there. They don’t want a man’s man on there on the TV.
“That’s the real terrorist. The alpha male. Umm-hmm. They don’t want that life.”
Long’s inchoate message was part of his belief that Americans hail “rebels” like George Washington and Nat Turner or Malcolm X but don’t actually fight to maintain their freedoms today. Long was a kind of self-made Renaissance man who maintained a steady presence on his blog, podcast, and videos, doling out advice from how to get justice to how to get laid.
After dispensing his books, the Kansas City native crashed at a Dallas home belonging to the mother of his best friend, a rapper who goes by Feva.
The rapper said Long was undone by the killings by police of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
“Police was killing our black brothers,” he told Feva. “Bro, they killing us, and they killing you, too.”
And on the same Sunday Long went on the rampage, taking out Baton Rouge police officers Matthew Gerald, 41, Montrell Jackson, 32, and Brad Garafola, 45, before he was felled by responding cops—he made a strange appeal to his cousin: “He kept calling her and in a message he told her, ‘Some shit happened in the military that I can’t tell you.’
“That shit fucked with me a lot,” Feva told The Daily Beast in an exclusive interview. “Like what does he mean by that?”
Long went on to tell him, “We got to stop protesting and stand up.”
For Feva, Long’s strange warning to his friend coupled with the spiraling state of mind before his massacre makes no sense.
“I don’t feel like the police killed my brother,” Feva said. “I felt like he went looking for fucking trouble, you feel me? I feel like he brought that upon himself.”
And yet, Long wanted Feva to keep getting knowledge by watching his cache of online videos.
“He kept telling me ‘Download my videos off YouTube,’” Feva said.
When Feva’s mom bid Long goodbye she received an earful.
“She told him, ‘Good luck!’” Feva said. “He told her ‘Don’t tell me good luck. I don’t need good luck when I have knowledge.’”
So Feva’s mother told Long: “OK, be careful.”
But Long didn’t want to hear it.
“He said, ‘I don’t like that word either. Don’t say, Be careful. Say, Stay vigilant. Stay courageous’—he was saying weird shit.”
Both Feva and Long were raised by single mothers in South Kansas City and both attended Grandview High School.
They were more like brothers though.
“I’m closest to him,” Feva said. “We’re the same person.”
Indeed, Feva and one other friend named Mike (aka “Mafia”) along with Gavin Long were a tight trio who were known as “The Three Kings.”
Long, before he became Cosmo Setepenra in his African Spirituality path, adopted the moniker “Gee Money.”
“Everybody called him Gee Money and when we got older he went by Cosmo Setepenra,” Feva said.
Long landed on the name because “it was like him being part of the life.” The hustler was gone and born again was a shepherd who wanted to preach knowledge and peace.
“He became conscious,” Feva said. “Gee Money was when we was in the streets.”
He also shed the bodybuilding image, wouldn’t get his hair groomed, and purged all his belongings.
“He also stopped lifting weights because he wanted to be natural.”
And changing his name was part of the process.
“He changed his name to Cosmo, which is from the universe,” Feva said.
After being kicked out of high school, Feva pursued a music career.
Feva recruited his childhood partner in crime to appear on a mixed tape under the nom de guerre Ausar (the same middle name Long used when he declared himself to be sovereign from the federal, state, and local government on May 16, 2015).
Feva remembered Long’s metamorphosis.
“He showed me his Mu’ur [Nation] ID and how he was indigenous to America,” Feva, who is closely connected to his Nigerian ancestry, said. “He kept telling me I need to get one.”
A far departure from the young kid he recalled protecting from the hard Kansas City streets.
“I’ve known a lot of guys who might be crazy enough to do what he did but Gavin was never that type of person,” Feva said. “Gavin was the one that was straight on ahead that.”
In 2005, Long had already earned a high school diploma and enlisted in the Marines.
Military service records for Long obtained by The Daily Beast show he rose to the rank of sergeant. Long served in Japan and did a tour of duty in Iraq from June 2008 to January 2009. Like Micah Johnson, Long received military training. As a Marine, Long was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, where he completed infantry training to master weaponry.
No wonder he was an undefeated gamer.
“So many people would line up,” Feva recalled of his pal’s skills in the shoot ’em up console games Halo and Call of Duty. “We all tried to line up and play him and he would play for money and he would take everybody’s money.
“I never seen him lose. Ever.”
When Long played he made sure to undress his opponents’ before he capped them dead.
“It wasn’t just that he wouldn’t lose,” Feva noted. “He would make a fool of people. He’ll run around and kill four or five different people and he was just ultra fucking smart.
“Ultra fucking smart.”
He took those wits to the battlefield and then upon returning home Feva said his lifelong friend had changed.
“He’s not the same Gavin as growing up,” Feva said. “After that Marines shit—that shit changed him dramatically; he was more secretive and shit.”
The mere fact that his brother in life had decided to keep his distance was a bad harbinger.
“He didn’t want me to be around him and that’s not Gavin,” Feva said. “That’s my bro but he was keeping his distance.”
In some ways, they were both beyond trying to live the thug life and embracing African Spirituality, is how Feva calls it.
Long had made a trip to Africa and it was much more about finding his identity than it was to discover his roots.
“He just wanted to be part of the motherland,” Feva said.
Long was also repelled by the Nation of Islam, Feva says. He “was not a Muslim and he hated Christianity because he thought both religions were just watered down versions of the pyramid texts.”
Long’s greatest beef was with Uncle Sam stripping him of his birthright, Feva claims.
“He was on some madness at the government because he felt like they took away his rights to know who he really was,” Feva said. “He wanted to be African.”
While Africa may have inspired Long to shed his government name and passport for sovereignty and a dashiki, some old habits never died.
The self-published author and life guru who lists his bona fides as “Mental Game Coach” and “Freedom Strategist” also called himself an “Alpha Preneur.”
Online, Long blared a kind of alpha male machismo on his Convos with Cosmo blog.
In a July 5 post titled “13 Traits in a Man No Woman Can Resist” the spiritual guru becomes a pick-up artist, offering “bulletproof results” if men followed his checklist. “You will be able to get any woman on this earth, no matter how big your bank account may be or the amount of material possession you have.”
In number seven “Be Territorial” the ladies man bluntly advises that to court a woman “Sometimes you might need to invade her independence.”
He goes on to instruct the reader to protect your female turf. “For example don’t let other guys hit on her and make it clear you are together when you go out.”
Last but not least, Cosmo’s 13th tip was to have “good, satisfying sex.”
“If you really want mind-blowing sex then you need to start heating the fireplace before you put the wood in.” That means mastering the art of foreplay and if you learn this tactic “she’ll be a wild-animal everytime.”
To the average Joe the advice may seem a tad hyped, but Feva said Cosmo was a player in real life.
“He gets bitches,” Feva said, without mincing words. “I get a little bit. But I never had the amount of bitches he had.”
Feva learned about all kinds of Cosmo’s conquests in the military and most recently during his spiritual journey through Africa.
Once back after his two-year sojourn, they talked for hours. Long talked about how he was held up in Uganda by a man on a motorcycle armed with an AK-47 who shouted ‘Come with me!’ He also mentioned seeing the pyramids in Egypt and brought home some of their sacred teachings.
“In our religion we don’t believe in color or any difference in color,” Feva said, adding the belief structure celebrates deities of all kinds including sex, nurturing, and others, and also prides itself on respecting all living organisms—even insects.
Long told Feva “We need to wake more people up,” he remembered. “He was also saying ‘You can use negative energy and turn it into positive energy.’”
And then Feva comes to find out the killer who was neutralized by Baton Rouge cops after killing three of their brothers was his “brother” Long.
“Our beliefs are about the total opposite,” Feva said, still grappling with the reality that it was his friend who murdered cops. “He felt he had to stand up or something like that.”
Vengeance of any kind was forbidden.
“The spirituality, it ain’t about violence,” he said. “The whole thing he taught me about this religion he taught me peace and that this African Spirituality isn’t about a life for a life—it’s not what he taught me, it’s not in the books that we read.”
And while Feva says he’s experienced his fair share of cops who have gone too far with him at routine stops he says many are good, hardworking patriots.
“In that aspect I don’t agree with that shit at all. There ain’t no reconciliation at this point.”
Feva is still trying to get passed the “I-don’t-believe-this-shit-happened” stage. He only learned about the tragedy through a barrage of text messages from friends.
“People were texting ‘What’s Gavin’s last name?’ and ‘They talking about Gavin!’
“And I was wondering ‘Did he do some stupid shit,’” Feva remembered.
Feva admitted he “cried like a little girl” the moment he learned his brother had died.
“I had to stop myself from crying because my nephew and my girls were with me and I didn’t want them to see me like that.”
When the tears dried, he realized all the innocents Long allegedly gunned down.
“It didn’t seem right, and it still doesn’t seem real to me.
“This shit don’t happen in America,” he tried to tell himself. “Yeah, cops might be killing people, but niggas is killing way more niggas than the police killing.”
Whatever revolutionary mark Long hoped to leave, Feva is unimpressed and admits it only caused more anguish.
“You talking about you getting even. But you killing other people with families too. Just killing upon killing.”