The victims

Policeman's sister finds out he is killed from pastor in church

Two of the three police officers killed were Mr Gerald (left), married with two children, and Mr Jackson (right), who is married with a baby boy. The third was Mr Garafola.
Two of the three police officers killed were Mr Gerald (above), married with two children, and Mr Jackson, who is married with a baby boy. The third was Mr Garafola.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Two of the three police officers killed were Mr Gerald (left), married with two children, and Mr Jackson (right), who is married with a baby boy. The third was Mr Garafola.
Two of the three police officers killed were Mr Gerald, married with two children, and Mr Jackson (above), who is married with a baby boy. The third was Mr Garafola.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BATON ROUGE • Ms Joycelyn Jackson was already sitting in church when she found herself needing God most. She had not yet learnt that her little brother Montrell Jackson was among the three officers killed in Baton Rouge when her pastor asked the congregation to send prayers to her family.

"I didn't want to break down in church but it was just something I couldn't hold," Ms Jackson, 49, of Lake Charles, Louisiana, said.

"He was a wonderful person. A wonderful person."

Ms Jackson said she understands the anger behind the movement Black Lives Matter but that "God gives nobody the right to kill and take another person's life".

Mr Jackson, 32, and Mr Matthew Gerald, 41, of the Baton Rouge Police Department, and Mr Brad Garafola, 45, with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office, were killed on Sunday during a shooting attack on police that also injured three others.

Mr Gerald, who was married with two children, was a newly minted officer with a military background who reports said had joined the Baton Rouge police force only months ago.

Another victim, Mr Garafola, a father of four, had served with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Department for 24 years, more than half his life, said The New York Daily News.

Mr Jackson was married in the last few years and had a baby boy he adored, said his sister.

Ms Jackson added that she never worried about her brother, who was "outgoing and kind", being on the force, not until recent tensions in Baton Rouge after officers fatally shot a black man, Mr Alton Sterling, earlier this month outside a convenience store.

If she could talk to the shooter or anyone considering violence against more officers, said Ms Jackson, she would remind them of a judgment beyond the penal system.

"If I could say anything to anyone, it is to get their lives right with God," she said.

"Hell is a horrible, horrible place to be."

"It's coming to the point where no lives matter," she said, "whether you're black or white or Hispanic or whatever."

The racial tensions and rage towards law enforcers in Baton Rouge had taken its toll on Mr Jackson, who wrote an emotional Facebook post on July 8, saying he was "tired physically and emotionally".

"I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me," he wrote.

"In uniform, I get nasty, hateful looks and, out of uniform, some consider me a threat... These are trying times. Please don't let hate infect your heart. This city MUST and WILL get better."

THE WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2016, with the headline 'Policeman's sister finds out he is killed from pastor in church'. Print Edition | Subscribe