Slain Baton Rouge police officer was based at Camp Pendleton

Posted at 6:42 PM, Jul 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-19 17:46:43-04

Officer Matthew Gerald was one of three law enforcement officials killed in Baton Rouge on Sunday.

Following harrowing moments amid a hail of gunfire, you could hear his voice tremble over the radio.

"Shots fired, officer down! Shots fired officer down!"

Gerald trained at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, and was based at Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms.  Fellow officers said he was born to be a protector.

He earned the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.

Then, he joined the Army and became a Black Hawk crew chief. After three tours in Iraq, he could not stop serving and pledged to protect the streets of Baton Rouge.

That is what he was doing on Sunday when Gavin Long ambushed officers. He was wearing a full mask, and all black and carrying an AR-15 and a semi-automatic pistol.

Police said he fatally shot Gerald, Officer Montrell Jackson and Deputy Brad Garafola.

The sheriff said Garafola was killed as he rushed to help an officer who had been shot.

On July 8, Officer Jackson made a plea on Facebook.

"These are trying times. Please don't let hate infect your heart. This city MUST and WILL get better," he wrote.

He made a promise to all the protesters, officers, friends, family and neighbors in need of a hug or a prayer in Baton Rouge: "I got you."

The cop killer had also made a promise to protect this country back in 2005. He served as a United States Marine from 2005 to 2010. Like Gerald, he served at MCRD San Diego, Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms. He also deployed to Iraq.

In recent weeks, Long posted videos saluting rebels on his YouTube channel.

"You're in a world that's ran by devils," Long said in the video. "Get this through your head. Devils run this!"

He said protests were ineffective and basically called for combat on home soil. In a post from Dallas, TX, right after five cops were killed there, he urged victims to fight bullies.

"100 percent have been successful through fighting back... through bloodshed," Long added.

Gerald knew his bloodshed was a risk of being a soldier, a Marine and an officer. He shed it so others would not have to.

The FBI is vetting the claim that he was a member of the Nation of Islam. Officials believe he identified as being part of a black separatist movement, but there is no evidence he was directed by it.