Beaumont PD honors officers killed in Baton Rouge shooting

Photos by Sharon Brooks

In another recent attack against law enforcement officers, an assailant carrying an assault rifle and a pistol, with a backup assault rifle reportedly hidden in his car, shot and killed three police officers and wounded three others in Baton Rouge on July 17 before he was taken down.

Officers Montrell Jackson, 32, and Matthew Gerald, 41, of the Baton Rouge Police Department and Brad Garafola, 45, of the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Department, died in the shooting. The gunman, identified by Baton Rouge police as Gavin Long, 29, of Kansas City, Missouri, was killed by SWAT responding to Sunday’s vicious attack.

Long had reportedly driven to Louisiana from his home in Missouri and opened fire on officers responding to a 911 call, officials said.

Law enforcement officers from across Southeast Texas and numerous friends of the force gathered Tuesday, July 19, at the Beaumont police station on College Street for a prayer vigil honoring those slain in Baton Rouge.

Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames addressed the crowd, and mourned the fact she was standing in front of them for the second time in the last two weeks to honor officers killed in violent shootings. “About a week and a half ago, I stood in this very spot to let you know how sad I was,” Ames said, referring to the Dallas shootings. “Little did I know a little over a week later I would be back here again. … Once more I am going to ask you to stand with me and our community and make sure that nothing like that ever happens here and to do our very best to make sure nothing happens anywhere else in America.”

The mayor said the nation “pulled together” after terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and she encouraged citizens to do so again.

“We came to common ground in a lot of areas, and I ask that we pray that that can happen again,” she said. “This hurts our hearts because police officers are not supposed to be ambushed; they’re not supposed to be killed. No citizens are supposed to be killed. We desperately want to make this change, and I think we can in our city. It’s evident because you’re here today.

“If you see a police officer today, law enforcement, any peace officer, shake their hand or give them a hug and tell them how much you appreciate them because a city, a state, a nation without policing would be truly horrible. Quite frankly, I have to take my hat off to our officers and those around the country because it would be a very, very tough job in this day and age.”

Chief Jimmy Singletary of the Beaumont Police Department thanked the crowd for attending the vigil.

“Today, we pray for the officers and the families in Baton Rouge,” said the chief. “We also want to thank you for the support here locally you show us. I am so very proud of our Beaumont police officers. The job that they’re doing is remarkable under horrible circumstances. Every chief and every sheriff in our area is proud of their officers because they are doing a good job. … We’ve got to have positive things come out of these tragedies, and this is a great first step. We’ve got a lot of things going here in Southeast Texas as far as law enforcement and the community. I want to let the community know that they are our top priority.”

Pastors prayed for the fallen and stopped for a moment of silence to remember the Baton Rouge officers killed July 17.