BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - On Sunday, July 17, 2016 at roughly 8:40 in the morning, three law enforcement officers were killed in a shooting near the B-Quik gas station in Baton Rouge. They include two Baton Rouge Police Department officers, Montrell Jackson, 32, and Matthew Gerald, 41, and an East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Deputy, Brad Garafola, 45.
According to the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office autopsy report, all three officers died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Three additional officers were wounded during the attack. They include Deputy Nicholas Tullier, 41, who is currently in critical condition, Deputy Bruce Simmons, 51, and Officer Chad Montgomery.
Sheriff Sid Gautreaux of the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office released this statement:
Those close to one of the fallen officers say this senseless act of violence will not help a community already trying to heal.
"It's not going to work," said Omar Rahman, Jackson's cousin. "Nobody's going to win. We're going to all get hurt by it. We're all going to, we're all going to be punished by it."
Cavalier said he cannot help but be personally scarred by how terrible things have become in the city he calls home.
"You know I never thought I would see Baton Rouge end up in this way with all the stuff that's happening," Cavalier added. "It just all seems like it just got started and won't come to an end."
The families are now asking for peace and unity and hope the community can recover before anyone else has to lose a loved one.
"All we can do is just ask the community to come together and just pray for Montrell and we lost some other officers also so we just ask that you all just please pray for everyone and you know just hopefully we can one day everybody can heal and try to move on," Cavalier said.
Many people from around the globe have expressed their condolences and have shared their thoughts on the death of these three officers.
Montrell Jackson worked for the Baton Rouge Police Department for 10 years. He leaves behind a wife and a 4-month old son.
"He cried when he found out that he was going to have a son and he was so excited, you know. The baby looks just like him and just like I say, it's such a tragedy," said Charles Cavalier, Jackson's uncle.
Cavalier says his nephew loved being an officer and died doing what he loved. Cavalier wrote a letter of recommendation for Jackson back in 2006 when Jackson was thinking about joining the police department.
"It's so surreal," Cavalier said. "I mean we were kind of in shock you know, and it's hard to you know imagine right now that he's no longer going to be with us, but it's hard on everybody because it's somethings totally unexpected."
One of Jackson's neighbors, Shiela Gros, said Jackson was an exemplary neighbor who cared deeply for his community.
"He was just a great man in general. He would do anything for any one of us in this neighborhood. He would do anything for any of his neighbors and he was a new father," Cavalier said.
Cavalier also said he was contacted by Jackson's brother Sunday morning and was told Jackson had been shot. He says he found out while he was walking into church. According to Cavalier, Jackson loved the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans and had season tickets to the Pelicans. The two were planning on seeing a game together in the coming weeks.
Jackson was also supposedly planning to travel to see his sister in Texas soon. The officer also recently made a Facebook post in reference to the recent unrest in Baton Rouge. That post can be read here.
Within the past few days, Jackson took to Facebook expressing how draining recent events in Baton Rouge have been and shedding light on how exhausting being a black officer is. "I swear to God I love my city but I wonder if this city still loves me," he posted to Facebook. "In my uniform I get nasty, hateful looks and out of my uniform some consider me a threat."
Matthew Gerald of Denham Springs was a former Marine and Black Hawk Crew Chief in the Army. He achieved the rank of Corporal and served from October 11, 1994 to October 10, 1998. During his service, he received the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.
"It was like a natural glow when he had his uniform on. He was prideful. You can tell he was excited about being in the police department. He was giving back to his community. He was being a servant once again," said Dechia Gerald, Officer Matthew Gerald's wife.
Gerald graduated from the Baton Rouge Police Academy back in March. According to his wife, Gerald had only just been released to work on his own on July 5.
"It was like a natural glow when he had his uniform on. He was prideful. You can tell he was excited about being in the police department. He was giving back to his community. He was being a servant once again," said Gerald.
Gerald was a father to two daughters. His wife recalled that their three-year-old daughter was by her side when she was given the news.
"I'm crying and she's grabbing my face, 'Momma stop crying, momma stop crying,' and then at one moment she yelled at me, she said, 'Mommy, I wanna call my daddy right now. I wanna call my daddy right now.' I had to compose myself. I had to look at her in her little sweet blue eyes like her dad, and I had to say, 'Baby, your daddy is with Jesus now'," said Gerald.
Mrs. Gerald said her husband was hurt and angry over America being torn. Though he's gone, she said his death is slowly but surely beginning what he wanted.
"America's finally getting peace back together, so even though my husband's not here, he's still working. He's still serving his country. He's doing proud. I could get angry, but I'm not because my husband wouldn't want me to. His country he loved so much and fought so much for is finally beginning to be the country he knew then, rather than what it had become," said Gerald.
Deputy Brad Garafolo had worked with East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office for 24 years and was working in Civil Processing-Foreclosures. He was selected as the Civil Deputy of the Month in January of 2013.
He leaves behind a wife, Tonja Garafola, and four children, a 21-year-old son who lives in Texas, a 15-year-old daughter, 12-year-old son, and 7-year-old daughter.
"And he went and hid behind a dumpster so he could call for backup and he saw another officer had been hit and was trying to crawl and he crawled back to him and in the process, he was shot and that he went down fighting and he returned gunfire the entire time, several times after he was hit. He kept shooting, even when he was on the ground on his back, he kept shooting," Tonja explained.
His wife said that even though she is legally a widow, she will always be the wife of Deputy Brad Garafola.
Tonja posted to Facebook on Monday morning thanking everyone for their love, support and prayers. The post also served as a tribute to her husband, who she called, "my best fried, my rock and my hero."
Garafola's brother, Brett Garafola, posted the following to Facebook Sunday:
Deputy Garafola was working an extra-duty detail at the B-Quik when the attack occurred. Tonja said her husband texted her less than an hour before the shooting and said "Good morning my love," the text read. "I love you."