Wife of slain Deputy Brad Garafola speaks about loss

Published: Jul. 21, 2016 at 1:58 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2016 at 8:51 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - They met in a Walmart. He was in uniform and had no shopping cart.

"You probably think I'm following you," he told his future wife.

Eventually, they followed one another, walking down the aisle and into a 15-year marriage. It was one filled with sweet sentiments throughout.

Tonja Garafola received a text about an hour before the sound of gunfire shattered the silence of Sunday morning near the B-Quik gas station on Airline Highway.

Deputy Brad Garafola, 42, of the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office, made it a habit of texting Tonja as he worked detail at the store.

"Good morning my love," the text read. "I love you."

About an hour later, Deputy Garafola, a 24-year veteran of EBRSO, found himself in a shootout and ultimately gave his life trying to help another officer.

Since that day, Tonja says three of their four children have been sleeping in the bed with her.

"It's been a tight squeeze, but I wouldn't want it any other way," Tonja said. "They need me and they need to be able to smell him in the bed."

Tonja said Brad loved his family, loved working with things in his shed and loved his job. She misses coming home and driving up to see him outside, a big smile on his face, with their kids. The law enforcement veteran died a hero.

"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.

Tonja said that even though she is legally a widow, she will always be the wife of Deputy Brad Garafola.

Copyright 2016 WAFB. All rights reserved.