One of the three officers shot and killed by a masked gunman on a deadly rampage in Baton Rouge Sunday had recently written in an emotional Facebook post how difficult it was to be both a police officer and a black man, just before his death.
“I’m tired physically and emotionally… I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me,” Montrell Jackson wrote.
Loved ones were mourning the loss of Jackson, Matthew Gerald and Bradford Garafola, who were shot and killed after Gavin Eugene Long, 29, opened fire at officers responding to a call of a suspicious person walking down Airline Highway with an assault rifle about 8:40 a.m.
In a Facebook post before his murder, Jackson, 32, expressed how “physically and emotionally” tired he was, writing about the experience of being a black cop.
“In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat,” Jackson wrote. “I’ve experienced so much in my short life and these last 3 days have tested me to the core.”
The post was written on July 8, three days after Alton Sterling, who was black, was shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge.
The following day, another black man, Philando Castile, was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop in Minnesota, as his girlfriend livestreamed the aftermath of the shooting death on Facebook.
Five police officers in Dallas were shot and killed the next day after a gunman began shooting during a peaceful protest against the police shootings.
Jackson never specifically refers to those incidents in his post, but his message appears to be a reaction to them.
“These are trying times. Please don’t let hate infect your heart,” he wrote. “This city MUST and WILL get better. I’m working in 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.”
Jackson was a married new father and 10-year veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Department, devastated family and friends said.
“Montrell was a highly regarded police officer in the Baton Rouge Police Department, and most importantly, a beloved husband, father, son, brother and friend,” a relative wrote on a GoFundMe page created to assist his wife and newborn son.
“He was a brand new daddy, he had a wife that he loves dearly, he loved his mama, he was special!” his next door neighbor and close friend Kristi Godal wrote on Facebook.
Gerald, 41, was a married father-of-two little girls who joined the force last year after serving in the Marines and as a Black Hawk Crew Chief in the Army. He graduated from the BRPD Academy in March.
“Matt, you were an amazing man who dedicated your life to public service. I was honored to serve with you. You will be missed,” a donor wrote on a GoFundMe page created help provide for his family.
In a heartbreaking post, his wife asked for prayers as news broke that police were killed in a Baton Rouge shooting.
“Everyone please pray!!! My husband along with others is out there,” she wrote.
Garafola, a deputy with the sheriff’s office for 24 years, had just finished an extra duty shift at the B-Quik convenience store at 8 a.m. when he was killed. It was the last shift the 45-year-old father-of-four had to work before going on vacation on Monday with his wife and kids, Tonja Garafola.
Tonja Garafola had driven to meet her husband at the store but instead she was met with a sea of police cars. An hour later, she learned of his death, her brother wrote on a GoFundMe page created for his family.
“He was a great guy. Not just a great law enforcement, he was a great husband and a great father,” Tonja Garafola told The Advocate. “He didn’t deserve this. He always helped everybody.”
Three other law enforcement officials were injured in the shooting. Deputy Nicholas Tullier, a 41-year-old with 18 years on the job, is in critical condition. Deputy Bruce Simmons, a 51-year-old who has served for 23 years had non-life threatening injuries.
A 41-year-old BRPD officer also suffered non-life threatening injuries in the shooting.