Joycelyn Jackson was already sitting in church when she found herself needing God most. She hadn’t yet learned that her little brother Montrell Jackson was among the three officer 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,” Jackson, 49, of Lake Charles, Louisiana, said. “He was a wonderful person. A wonderful person.”
Joycelyn 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.” Montrell Jackson, 32, was married in the last few years and had a baby boy he adored, she said.
“It’s coming to the point where no lives matter,” she said, “whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or whatever.”
In an emotional Facebook post on July 8, Montrell Jackson wrote that 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.”
On a GoFundMe page set up for the fallen officer by a relative, he is described as a hero in a “time of uncertainty and imminent danger.”
“Words cannot describe the devastation that we feel right now,” reads the page. “Rest in Peace, Montrell, you will always be our Hero.”
Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson identified the officer as his cousin on Twitter, using a hashtag many adopted Sunday: #PrayForBatonRouge
“Rest in peace to my cousin Montrell Jackson who was one of the policeman that was killed.”
Joycelyn Jackson said her brother towered over many at 6-foot-3, but in her memories he will always be that little boy who was a picky eater. She said his siblings would tease him about how when he was about 9 years old he insisted on eating only Burger King Whoppers for dinner. Jackson said she was the one who would get him to eat other food.
Jackson said 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 Alton Sterling earlier this month outside a convenience store.
Jackson said on Sunday another brother had told the pastor about the death before she made it to church for an afternoon service. Afterward, she said, the weight of it “rushed” over her.
If she could talk to the shooter, or anyone considering violence against more officers, she said she’d 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.”