Three officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, were shot and killed Sunday while investigating reports of a man with an assault rifle.
The shooting left three other officers injured, one in critical condition.
It happened two weeks after a black man was fatally shot by police right there in Louisiana’s capital city, an incident that sparked tumultuous protests nationwide.
These are the stories of the three slain Baton Rouge police officers:
Officer Montrell Jackson, 32
A 10-year veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Department, Jackson was a dedicated officer who was injured in 2007 while trying to save a toddler from a burning building.
“[His job] motivated him to go out and change people’s lives,” Jackson’s friend Darnell Murdock told
. “He was on [the force] to help people, to make you have a better day. He was humble, kind and sweet. … He wasn’t on there to write tickets. I don’t understand how this could happen to someone like him.”
It was just earlier this month that Jackson
took to Facebook
with an emotional message, stating that he was "physically and emotionally" tired due to the intricacies of being both a police officer and a black man.
“I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me,” he wrote on July 8. “In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat. I’ve experienced so much in my short life and these last 3 days have tested me to the core. … Finally I personally want to send my prayers out to everyone directly affected by this tragedy. These are trying times. Please don’t let hate infect your heart. This city MUST and WILL get better. I’m working in these streets so any protestors, officers, friends, family, or whoever, if you see me and need a hug or want to say a prayer. I got you.”
Officer Matthew Gerald, 41
Gerald was a rookie police officer who just graduated from the police academy in March.
He had only been on patrol by himself for 12 days before he was shot and killed, local outlet WAFB wrote on Twitter.
Married with two children, Gerald was a former Marine and Black Hawk crew chief in the US Army.
Officer Brad Garafola, 45
A married father of four, Garafola was identified as the third victim by his brother, according to local outlet
Brett Garafola identified his brother on Facebook, writing, “I really don’t know how to say this or what I feel right now.”
“For those of you that haven’t heard yet. My brother Deputy Brad Garafola was shot and killed in the attack on Airline Highway this morning,” he added. “He leaves his wife and 4 kids behind in which he loved so much. I know a lot of you know Brad and his family. Please keep them and all of my family in your prayers.”
According to The Advocate, Garafola’s children include a 21-year-old son who lives in Texas, a 15-year-old daughter, a 12-year-old son and a 7-year-old daughter.