Slain Baton Rouge officers were fathers, husbands who served their community
At least three law enforcement officers lost their lives today in yet another shooting. Officers in Baton Rouge answered a call about a "suspicious person" openly carrying an assault rifle, according to CNN, and a gunman fired shots at the officers. Two of the slain officers have been identified as Montrell Jackson and Matthew Gerald, and both men were fathers and husbands who served their community.
Before he was killed, Jackson shared his thoughts about what it was like to be a black man in uniform following the recent shootings of the Dallas police officers and during the #BlackLivesMatter protests. "I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me," he wrote on Facebook on July 8. "In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat." He urged people to judge him by his actions, not his uniform, adding that "any protesters, officers, friends, family or whoever" should feel free to find him if they "need a hug or want to say a prayer."
A friend of Jackson's said that he loved his job as an officer: "It motivated him to go out and change people's lives. He was on [the force] to help people, to make you have a better day," Darnell Murdock told The Advocate. "He was humble, kind and sweet... He wasn't on there to write tickets. I don't understand how this could happen to someone like him."
Jackson's wife recently gave birth to a baby boy. Twitter has since erupted in support for the slain officer and his family, and there's a GoFundMe campaign to support his wife and newborn.
Officer Matthew Gerald, who was also killed by the shooter, leaves behind two children. Reuters reports that his wife, Dechia Badeaux Gerald, expressed concern for his safety, writing on Facebook, "Everyone please pray!!! My husband along with others is out there."
Media outlets identified the gunman, who reportedly died on the scene, as 29-year-old Gavin Eugene Long. Sunday's attack on police officers comes just after the slaying of Anton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, by two Baton Rouge police officers.
Obama spoke out about the attacks, calling them "cowardly and reprehensible" in a press statement: "Regardless of motive, the death of these three brave officers underscores the danger that police across the country confront every single day," he said. "And we as a nation have to be loud and clear that nothing justifies violence against law enforcement. Attacks on police are an attack on all of us and the rule of law that makes society possible."