Matthew Gerald, one of the law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Sunday, was mourned today at his funeral by family, friends and colleagues.
Gerald, 41, a husband and father, was an Army and Marine veteran who completed three tours of duty in Iraq. He had been serving the Baton Rouge Police Department for less than a year when he was fatally shot.
His friend Dave Mulkey spoke at today's service, recalling the last text message he received from Gerald. He said he was checking up on Gerald after the Baton Rouge protests and told him to be careful and keep a cool head.
And Gerald responded: "I'm gonna do what I got to do to keep you safe," Mulkey said.
Mulkey said Gerald was going to be the best man at his wedding, but he was deployed to Iraq that day. Mulkey said Gerald decided to return to the Army after Sept. 11.
"He never once asked for recognition," Mulkey said. He praised Gerald for going toward the danger, along with his fellow fallen officers.
Gerald's brother-in-law Justin Badeaux said in an emotional tribute, "He laid his life down to protect his community and country."
"Matt, you're my hero and I'll always love you," Badeaux added.
Later in the service, Pastor Mike Haman asked everyone to stand and applaud the law enforcement officers in the room.
Gerald and two other officers died Sunday morning in the shooting, which was a "targeted" attack against cops, said Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson. The gunman was killed by police.