Tears are flowing, once again, from another round of bloodshed.
News of the tragic death of Baton Rouge Police Officer Montrell Jackson and two fellow officers — identified as Matthew Gerald and Brad Garafola — brought his family and friends to their knees. Now they are comforting each other by sharing their memories of him.
Jackson’s sister, Joycelyn Jackson, told The Washington Post she learned of her brother’s death during a church service.
“I didn’t want to break down in church but it was just something I couldn’t hold,” she said.
At 6-foot-3, Jackson stood head and shoulders above many people. He was a husband and a father to a new baby boy. “He was a wonderful person. A wonderful person,” she told the newspaper.
Just days before his death, Jackson expressed his love for his community in an emotional Facebook post that highlighted both the discrimination he experienced while wearing his police uniform and as a Black man in America. But his positive outlook, infectious to many, kept him going.
“In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat,” Jackson wrote on July 8, a day after a gunman shot and killed five Dallas police officers. “These are trying times. Please don’t let hate infect your heart.”
Baton Rouge Police identified Gavin Long as the man who ambushed police officers on Sunday, killing three and wounding others.
Marcus Tillman, a longtime friend and former Baton Rouge police officer, told NBC News he heard about Jackson’s death while in church and literally fell to his knees.
“I’ve never cried that hard in my life. Honestly, it felt like my soul was being yanked out,” he told NBC.
Tillman told the network Jackson had been “stressed out” and “depressed” by the police killings of Black men and the retaliatory shooting of police officers in Dallas.
“I remember Montrell got on Facebook the other day and posted that he hopes that his son won’t ever become a police officer so he wouldn’t have to deal with the BS that comes with the job,” Tillman stated.
Jackson’s next door neighbor, Kristi Vick Godal, told NBC he was not only a police officer but also “a proud Black man.”
“We’ve all just been devastated,” Godal stated. “An extremely special human being was stolen from the Earth.”
She added that Jackson mentored her children when their father died, and he was also “a steady, calming force” in their community.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the officers killed in Sunday’s tragedy.