BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (WAFB) – It was one of the darkest days in Baton Rouge. On Sunday, July 17, 2016, a sniper opened fire, spreading terror outside the B-Quick gas station on the Airline Highway. Once the bullets stopped flying, the law enforcement ambush right outside our door killed two Baton Rouge Police Department officers, Matthew Gerald and Montrell Jackson, as well as a deputy from the Sheriff of East Baton Rouge, Brad Garafola. Three other law enforcement officers were also injured, including Chad Montgomery, Bruce Simmons and Nick Tullier.
Five years later, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux says not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about the men who lost their lives that day and their families who were forever changed because of it.
“Scottie, you know I’ve been in law enforcement for a long time and it’s terrible to lose someone anytime, but I can tell you it was the worst day of my life and I will never forget never what happened that day, “said Gautreaux.
In the days and weeks after the attack, the sheriff admits there were times he had to catch his breath, but his commitment to bringing his deputies and this community through her pushed him. to put one foot in front of the other.
“There were times when I just had to take a step back, whether it was for five minutes or for 30 minutes. I had to step back and catch my breath and just put it all in perspective and realize as a sheriff what I had to do, what I had to do for these families, for the men and women and the people who serve. the department and these are things that come with work that you can’t stop, ”said Gautreaux.
The sheriff said that a sense of comfort at that time was that from so much trouble, also came something beautiful.
“This community was in pain then, but I saw something that, I mean, touches me today,” Gautreaux said. “I saw this whole community coming together at that time. It was such a wave of love and concern from the whole community and it touched me and it always will be and I think we’ve built on that since then.
BRPD chief Murphy Paul took over as head of the Baton Rouge police department about a year and a half after the ambush. At the time of the attack, he was with the Louisiana State Police.
“When you look at 2016 and look at all the incidents that have happened as if our heroes lost their lives and paid the ultimate sacrifice… the great flood… all of these things created trauma not only in the community but in our police officers. We know the trauma still exists, ”said Chief Paul.
While the chief was not at the agency at the time, he says the loss in the ministry affects him and his agents almost on a daily basis.
“We can never feel the pain of the family members of these officers or of the officers who worked alongside them every day or of their supervisors and we will continue to raise them in prayer,” said Paul.
In the years since taking office, the leader says they did more than pray. He says they have taken steps to restore relationships within the community and ensure that its agents are protected. They have stepped up agent training and, more importantly, the chief says he created a system of peer-to-peer support and counseling through a collective healing grant for agents facing the trauma that often accompanies wearing a badge every day. .
“We wanted to create an environment where our agents feel safe to say I need a break and feel safe to say I need help and that’s what we tried to do. Paul said.
As the tough conversations around law enforcement continue in Baton Rouge and beyond and as the city has had one of its darkest days, the Sheriff and Chief say they are eagerly awaiting the better days which they believe are yet to come.
“People know that the men and women who wear the uniform are going out there and saving lives and doing our part to make sure their quality of life is better,” said Paul.
“There is evil in this world and we have to face it, but the majority of people here in these streets of Baton Rouge and the parish of East Baton Rouge … the vast majority are good people,” he said. added Gautreaux. “They’re like me and you Scottie.” All they want is to live in peace and raise a family and these are the people we serve and it is up to us to do all we can to keep their peace, safety and security.
Click here to report a typo.
Copyright 2021 WAFB. All rights reserved.