Mon, Jul 25, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Baton Rouge police officer died helping, funeral told

AP, BATON ROUGE, Louisiana

Mourners view the open casket of Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputy Brad Garafola at his funeral in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

The Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputy killed on Sunday last week ran to help another officer when he could have stayed safe in the convenience store where he was working off-duty, a minister said at his funeral on Saturday.

“It’s a remarkable story, the story of Brad Garafola,” said Jeff Ginn, lead pastor at Istrouma Baptist Church. “He had a place of security ... a place where he could hide. He left that place of safety.”

Garafola and two Baton Rouge police officers were killed outside the B-Quik convenience store by 29-year-old gunman Gavin Long, who was killed by police. Three other officers were wounded.

Sheriff Sid Gautreaux on Saturday told mourners that one remains in critical condition and another faces a third operation on a shattered arm.

All 1,500 seats were filled at the church, where a public funeral was held for Garafola. The walls were lined with additional mourners, many of them police who had come from across the US.

A funeral was held earlier at a Catholic church for Garafola’s family and friends, according to the family’s obituary.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said strength and courage seem to have defined Garafola’s life, including his final moments.

Gautreaux said he was “courageous, compassionate, fearless, fair, brave and benevolent.”

His brother-in-law, Jaye Cooper, said people called Garafola “the neighborhood husband,” because he cut grass, caught snakes and did other chores for people across the community.

“He never asked anything for what he did,” Cooper said.

He said Garafola died “doing what Brad had always done — trying to help someone else.”

During two hours of visitation before the funeral, a line of mourners snaked through church hallways, out the back door and into the parking lot. It included scores of officers from across Louisiana and from across the US.

Early arrivals for Garafola’s service included a deputy who worked with him in the department’s foreclosure division.

He was dressed in Scottish regalia for a pipe band that played Amazing Grace outside the church after four helicopters flew over in salute.

Work in that division requires someone who can defuse the fraught business of eviction and repossession, and Garafola was good at keeping things calm, Deputy Greg McLean said.

On Friday, hundreds turned out for a funeral service for Baton Rouge police officer Matthew Gerald, 41.

Funeral services for the third officer slain, 32-year-old Montrell Jackson, were scheduled for today, with a multi-agency memorial service for the officers on Thursday.

The police killings came at a time of tension in the city and across the US as police are put in the spotlight after shooting incidents.

Gautreaux earlier told reporters that surveillance video showed Garafola firing at the gunman as bullets hit the concrete around him.

“My deputy went down fighting. He returned fire to the very end,” the sheriff said.

Garafola leaves behind a wife and four children.

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