For Brother Of Baton Rouge Shooting Victim, A Devastating Loss
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We're continuing to follow developments in a shooting in Baton Rouge, La. today. Three police officers were shot and killed outside a convenience store. Three others were injured. Police have identified Gavin Eugene Long, 29 years old of Kansas City as the suspect in the shooting. He was also killed.
One of the law enforcement officers killed has now been identified as Montrell Jackson of the Baton Rouge Police Department. He was 32 years old, and his brother Kedrick Pitts is kind enough to join us now. Mr. Pitts, thank you so much for speaking with us. I cannot tell you how sorry I am for your loss.
KEDRICK PITTS: Thank you for having me.
MARTIN: Can I ask you how you found out what had happened?
PITTS: I was actually in bed sleeping. I woke up to my mother crying. And I was trying to figure out what was going on. She was so hysterical. She couldn't really explain. Then I was seeing on the news - they were showing it live. And I wasn't sure if my brother was there or not. He normally doesn't work around that time, so I was hoping, you know, everything would be OK. So she was wanting me to take her to the hospital so we can get confirmation. (Unintelligible). And once we got there is when we received the bad news.
MARTIN: I'm very sorry once again, and I hope you'll convey our condolences to your mother as well.
PITTS: Thank you.
MARTIN: How long had your brother been with the force? And can you - do you remember when he decided to join and why he wanted to be a police officer?
PITTS: I remember when he wanted to join. He joined in 2006. He - we have a couple other family members who are officers and sheriffs, and he just wanted to do good in his community. Pretty...
MARTIN: Did he like the job?
PITTS: Yeah. He loved his job. He worked his job seven days a week. I mean - however many hours he can work, he'll work it. He was well-known throughout the city by the people in the city and co-workers.
MARTIN: What did he like about it?
PITTS: He loved the thrill, and he loved really being there for others. If he could do anything for anybody - you could ask anybody. They'll tell you Montrell will give you (unintelligible) enjoy about it.
MARTIN: There's a Facebook post that he - that we found that's gotten a lot of attention. Do you know what I'm talking about? It was posted on July 8, and he says - in it he says, (reading) I'm tired physically and emotionally, disappointed in some family friends and officers for some reckless comments, but, hey, what's in your heart is in your heart. I still love you all because hate takes too much energy. But I definitely won't be looking at you the same. Thank you to everyone that's reached out to me or my wife. It was needed and much appreciated. I swear to God I love this city, but I wonder if the city loves me in uniform. I get nasty, hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat. I've experienced so much in my short life in these last three days have tested me to the core.
What - do you know what he's talking about there?
PITTS: I believe a lot of these recent events with - Alton Sterling situation. He's got the short end of the stick. You know, and he still hurt. He wants justice for their family also, but he just asks everyone to respect everyone, continue to love everyone and he wanted everyone to get through this together. He didn't want any hatred going on, especially killing, you know. He was a police officer. He wanted peace.
MARTIN: Did he feel or do you - are you aware of people - I don't know - did people make critical comments about him being a police officer? Is that - was that hard?
PITTS: Not at all.
PITTS: If anyone I seen or talked to or anything online they will always mention him as the good officer. The officer everyone should be like.
MARTIN: Can you tell me a little bit more about his family? I understand that he has a little one and just celebrated an anniversary. Is that true?
PITTS: Yeah. I - he just had his first born son. He always wanted to be a father. I became a father before him and when I had mine, he treated mine like his. And everyone wanted to see him be a father because that's the most important thing to him, and his son just made 4 months.
MARTIN: That must be hard.
PITTS: And it sucks that - yeah - it sucks he won't get to know the guy I knew.
MARTIN: I'm really sorry again, and thank you so much for speaking with us at such a difficult day. Is there anything else you would want people to know about your brother?
PITTS: How you doing? All right. I want everyone to know - yeah - I would like everyone to know that he's in God's hands. And I want you all to continue to pray for me and my family. I will continue to pray for you all, and I believe he will want this world to be a better place to put a end to all this madness and everybody come together.
MARTIN: Before we let you go, Mr. Pitts, I just can't help but notice - I don't - we don't know anything about this - the person who is accused of having committed this crime and having done this. But there is - it's not a secret that there's been some racial tension in Baton Rouge, particularly related to the killing of Alton Sterling, who was an African-American man by white police officers. There have been a number of incidents that have gotten people very upset, and the president and the governor a number of other officials have called for calm here.
Your brother is also African-American, and I just wonder if there's something about that that bears noting, if this was, in fact, motivated by a kind of racial hatred, you know, that seems kind of ridiculous and ironic - but we don't know that for sure, but I just wondered if there's something you would want to say about that, the fact that your brother is also an African-American man wearing the uniform.
PITTS: I don't have anything to say about that. I just say - I just want to say God bless these killers. I continue to pray for those guys, too. And I don't know what were their motives, but I just hope this is a real eye-opener to the community, to the whole world. It sucks that it had to be my brother, my best friend. But God had his plan and I trust and I believe in him. And that's it.
MARTIN: That's Kedrick Pitts. He is the brother of one of the officers killed in Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge police officer Montrell Jackson. Mr. Pitts, thank you so much for speaking with us at such a difficult day and our condolences once again.
PITTS: OK. Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.