Family and friends are remembering three law enforcement officers who were shot to death in the southern city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Sunday by what appears to be a lone U.S. Marine veteran.
Brad Garafola of the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office is described by his widow, Tonja, as a "great guy" who loved fixing things, including a car he was preparing for his 15-year-old daughter for when she was ready to drive. His main priority, she said, was his family. The 45-year-old was the father of two boys and two girls ages 7 to 21. Tonja Garafola said, "He didn't deserve this. He always helped everybody." Prior to being killed, Garafola was working a night shift before he was to go on vacation on Monday.
Baton Rouge police officer Matthew Gerald, 41, was a U.S. Army helicopter crew chief who served several tours of duty in Iraq. He was married and the father of two young daughters. Neighbor Stephanie Morgan described Gerald as "a damn good man. You're not going to find any better." Gerald had joined the police force in October. Cars lined the streets near Gerald's home Sunday in a collective display of mourning.
Montrell Jackson had been with the Baton Rouge Police Department for 10 years. The 32-year-old African American was married and the father of a 4-month-old son. The day after the July 8 police shootings in Dallas, Texas, Jackson wrote about his experiences in and out of uniform on Facebook. "In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat... Please don't let hate infect your heart. This city MUST and WILL get better."
As the officers are remembered, authorities are trying to find out more about the suspect, Gavin Long of Kansas City, Missouri. Long, an African American, was killed Sunday in a shootout with police after carrying out what law enforcement officials are describing as an ambush.
The killings occurred about two weeks after police in Baton Rouge fatally shot a black man, sparking nationwide protests including one in Dallas that was ending peacefully until a lone gunman killed five police officers in a surprise attack.