Baton Rouge police widow: I prayed every time my husband left home

Baton Rouge police widows
Baton Rouge police widows 02:37

BATON ROUGE -- Three police officers gunned down last Sunday will soon be laid to rest. Their murders were an apparent act of revenge for an earlier police killing.

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Dechia Gerald CBS News

CBS News' David Begnaud spoke with two of their widows on Wednesday.

"Every time my husband left the house, I prayed the whole sixteen days 'God, keep him safe. Protect all of the guys he's with and bring him back home,'" said Dechia Gerald.

Gerald's husband Matthew was a rookie cop with the Baton Rouge police department. He worked twelve hour shifts, sixteen days straight after protests erupted over the Alton Sterling killing.

"When things were getting chaotic and I texted him and I said that I need to see your face, just send me a picture please," she said.

Sunday morning, Gerald heard the first reports about the ambush killings.

"I knew in my gut something wasn't right. Something wasn't ... I just knew. I had a feeling."

Matthew Gerald
Matthew Gerald, one of the Baton Rouge officer killed on Sunday, July 17, 2016, sent this photo to his wife before he was killed. CBS affiliate WAFB

Shortly after the shooting she got a knock at the door.

"That is the hardest thing that I ever had to do in my life. My three year old is watching me, and she is holding my face and telling me not to cry."

Tonja Garafola got a text message from her husband Brad the morning of the shooting: "Good morning my love, I love you."

He was a 24-year veteran of the East Baton Rouge Parish. Tonja was worried about her husband, given the tensions -- worried that his badge and gun would get him killed.

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Tonja and Brad Garafola Garafola family

Brad died a hero.

"He went and hid behind a dumpster so he could call for backup, and he saw the officer that had been hit trying to crawl. He crawled back to him, and in the process he was shot. He went down fighting. He returned gunfire the entire time, several times after he was hit."

"Your daughter said something unforgettable?" Begnaud asked her. "She said 'Mommy don't cry, Daddy is in a better place," Tonja said.

GoFundMe pages have been set up for Tonja Garafola, Dechia Gerald, and their children. If you'd like to help, visit the links below: