BATON ROUGE - The community's hearts are heavy with sadness on the day after an ambush attack took the lives of three officers and injured three more. One of those men, Montrell Jackson, says they're trying to cope with a tragedy that doesn't make sense.
The 32-year-old man was a 10-year veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Department who leaves behind a wife and 4-month-old son. Jackson attracted the attention of news outlets as soon as he was identified as one of the three officers killed when a social media post he'd recently made surfaced.
"These are trying times. Please don't let hate infect your heart. This city MUST and WILL get better," read the Facebook post on July 8 from Jackson. He made the post as the shooting of Alton Sterling resulted in tension in his jurisdiction and even more bloodshed in Dallas. BRPD Chief Carl Dabadie said the last time he spoke with Jackson, the officer was basically providing him with a "pep talk" to keep going.
While the families were too emotional to talk on the day after the shooting, neighbors from the subdivision in Livingston Parish which Montrell Jackson called home were willing to comment on the senseless tragedy of his death.
"There are just no words," said a crying neighbor Jennifer Cupit. "I cannot imagine what his wife is going through with a baby. It's senseless and heartbreaking."
Cupit said one of things she remembers most is her neighbor's smile.
"We loved him as a neighbor. He was a model person," Cupit said. "If anybody needed anything, he was there, and that's the kind of people we need to be as a city and a nation."
That quality of humanity was highlighted in those Facebook posts that went up on the web just three days before he would be fatally cut down by gunfire at a car wash on Airline Highway. In that post, Jackson talked about how tired he was of seeing negativity posted to social media outlets and how exhausted he was, both physically and emotionally, of fighting against it.
"I swear to God I love this city, but I wonder if this city loves me," he continued. The Capital City was thrown into turmoil after the July 5 shooting of a man in front of a North Foster Drive convenience store and resulted in protests at several spots throughout the area. Neighbors said they're saddened to see the loss of a man that preferred unity to division.
"Just an amazing man, bringing all races together," Cupit said. "You could see them in the neighborhood, talking to kids and encouraging them to stay out of the road and be safe. It's just so sad."
News 2 also reached out to the families of the other two slain law enforcement officers: Brad Garafola and Matthew Gerald. However, both of those families were also too stricken by grief to offer comment at this time. As the officers' names were revealed in the chaos that followed the shooting on Sunday, officials reported that all three of the officers who died were leaving behind wives and children.
Several vigils and prayer services are planned for Monday and Tuesday in Baton Rouge and its suburbs.