Three police officers were dead and several others were injured after a man opened fire on authorities in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Sunday.
It breaks our hearts to learn more about those taken away in the senseless crime — a brand new dad, a rookie who was also an ex-Marine, a 24-year force vet who was a father to four children.
The slain men have now been identified as Montrell Jackson and Matthew Gerald of the Baton Rouge Police Department and Brad Garafola of the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Check out a little more info about all the victims (below) while we mourn the loss of these brave men!
Montrell Jackson — 32
Jackson’s story is so incredibly heartbreaking. He has a little boy who’s only a few months old (above).
He recently opened up about the struggles of being both black and a police officer during these high tension times, posting on Facebook:
“I’m tired physically and emotionally. I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me.”
The policeman continued:
“I’m working these streets so any protesters, officers, friends, family, or whoever, if you see me and need a hug or want to say a prayer. I got you.”
Apparently last month was the 32-year-old’s 10-year anniversary. People who know him are saddened by his passing. One was quoted as saying:
“He wasn’t just an officer who was there to contain rowdy crowds on weekend nights. He was family.”
Matthew Gerald — 41
This 41-year-old police officer served in both the Marines and the Army before joining the force this past year. The father of two girls was deployed in Iraq three times and was a huge Louisiana State University football fan. Ryan D. Cabral, who served with Matthew in Iraq, remembers his friend, saying:
“Matt was the kind of guy that you knew immediately when he entered the room. Whether it was the energy he carried with him or that Cajun accent he had . . . maybe it was the Marine in him.”
Nick Lambert, another man who served with Gerald in the Army said of his friend’s death:
“After three tours, not a scratch on him. Comes back home, chooses a job to serve others, and this is what our society does? It’s a coward’s way to make a statement.”
Brad Garafola — 45
Garafola had been with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office for 24 years as his wife, Tonja Garafola, revealed her late husband was really a jack of all trades that loved to tinker with things around the house.
Sadly, Brad left not only Tonja behind, but his four children as well — a 21-year-old son who loves in Texas, a 15-year-old daughter, a 12-year-old son, and a 7-year-old daughter. The slain officer’s wife knew how much she was loved though as she said:
“He loved us so much. He was always bragging about his family.”
Brad’s brother, Brett Garafola, also posted a message on Facebook honoring his brother, writing:
“Brad, I love you very much my brother. I respect and appreciate everything you did for us, this city, and your job to protect and serve,” he a wrote. “To the rest of my family and other officers please watch your 6 and God please watch over them.”
We can’t begin to imagine how the officers’ passing is affecting their loved ones, but our hearts go out to them during this extremely difficult time.
[Image via East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office/Twitter.]