Families of fallen officers escorted to Biloxi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Families of fallen officers escorted to Biloxi

The families are in town for a police benefit. (Photo source: WLOX) The families are in town for a police benefit. (Photo source: WLOX)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

The families and two of the three officers wounded in a July ambush in Baton Rouge are staying on the Coast for the weekend for a Saturday night fundraiser at the Golden Nugget, United in Blue. 

After crossing the state line, the police caravan stopped at the Mississippi Welcome Center. There, officers from around the Coast welcomed the visitors from Louisiana with open arms.

"State lines doesn't matter when it comes to us," said Zachary Grady, Organizer for United in Blue. "Whenever we have brothers and family members who are hurting, we want to show that we can reach out and we can go the extra mile and take care of people who need to be taken care of."

It's been four months since Tonja Garafola lost her husband, Deputy Brad Garafola.  She's happy to be in Mississippi because it meant she was honoring her husband.

"Everything I do, I do it for my kids and Brad," said Garafola. "No matter what, our walk through life will be behind him."

Families of all three fallen officers made the trip from Baton Rouge, along with two of the wounded officers, including Sgt. Bruce Simmons, who continues recovering from being shot in the shoulder.

"I've still got a long road to recovery with my arm," said Simmons. "My radial nerve's still not firing."

But gatherings like the benefit heal physical and emotional wounds.

"We're one big family now," said Simmons. "This incident brought us all together and it brought a lot more people together and showed them what we stand for."

Injured Baton Rouge officer Nick Tullier couldn't make the trip. Earlier in the week he was transported to one of the world's best rehab facilities. Tullier continues to be in the thoughts and prayers of his brothers in blue.

"He's one of my brother officers," said Simmons. "We both rode motors for the sheriff's office and we went into that incident together. He just got transferred to Tirr in Houston and he's going through rehabilitation now, so he's come a long way."

For South Mississippi law enforcement officers, organizing an event to benefit their wounded comrades and families of the fallen is the least they could do.

"I would hope that in the event that I didn't make it back to my family that I would have the surrounding cities, communities, states and law enforcement would stop up to the plate like we're doing here," said Grady.

The United in Blue fundraiser will feature food, entertainment and a silent auction at the Golden Nugget in Biloxi. All proceeds go to support the families of the fallen and wounded officers.  

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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