July 7, 2016… a primarily peaceful protest in downtown Dallas against police brutality was nearing an end.

The majority of the crowds had already proceed down Main Street.

Suddenly, the sound of gunfire rang out amongst the downtown buildings. A pathetic, Army-discharge who will not be recognized by name approached a group of officers who were maintaining the peaceful event.

“He got out and, we believe, engaged three Dallas police officers in a short conversation, then pulled his rifle and shot them,” El Centro Police Chief Joseph Hannifin remarked according to Dallas Observers’ Stephen Young.

Senior Corporal Lorne Ahrens, Officer Michael Krol and Officer Patricio Zamarripa sustained fatal injuries. Several more officers were injured.

The shooter retreated along Lamar Street where he unsuccessfully attempted to gain access to El Centro, a Dallas Community College. He engaged in an exchange of fire with Corporal Bryan Shaw and Officer John Abbott who were able to prevent the shooter from entering the main entrance where more than 30 students were attending classes.

Failing to overcome Abbott and Shaw, the shooter proceeded down Lamar Street where DART Officer Brent Thompson was selflessly moving towards the gunfire.

Officer Thompson was killed.

The gunman was able to force his way into a rear entrance to the school and proceed upstairs but not without Officers Shaw and Abbott hot on his heels.

“[Shaw and Abbott] heard gunfire from the Elm Street doors. As they tactically approached, they observed a blood trail leading from the doors to a stairwell. Shaw entered the stairwell and was fired upon,” Hannigan reported according to Young.

Abbott was injured in the leg, but continued to pursue.

“I just wanted to get a hold of this guy for what he was doing,” Abbott recalled. “I wanted a piece of him.” 

The gunman barricaded himself in upstairs hallways where police were not able to get an accurate view.

From his elevated position, he unloaded more gun fire down upon Dallas police, killing Sergeant Michael Smith. A four hour long stand-off ensued between the hidden coward and SWAT.

Ultimately, a little robot was sent in to take down the disgraced former soldier. The shooter was killed instantly and the robot suffered only minor damage to one arm but remained functional, according to CBSDFW.

Three years later, Law Enforcement Today (LET) remembers these officers who gave the ultimate sacrifice in protecting their community.

The entire reason we launched LET Unity was to capture the stories of these incredible men and women.  We were blessed to interview two of the survivors last year in Texas.

Misty was one of the officers who survived that night.  Her story is below.

We were also blessed to interview Officer Shaw.  He detailed the events of that night for our good friend, Houston Gas, in the series Thin Blue Blood below.

We will continue to launch these untold stories of heroes on LET Unity and we’ve pledged that the 100% of the proceeds get reinvested into helping give these warriors a voice.

Today… as every day… we remember.

Dallas Police Senior Corporal Lorne Bradley Ahrens

Senior Corporal Lorne Bradley Ahrens

Senior Corporal Lorne Bradley Ahrens

Corporal Ahrens was 48 years old with an impressive stature of six-foor four and 300-pounds but friends described him as having a heart just as big, according to CBSDFW’s Gabriel Roxas.

Lorne had given the 25 years of service- 14 years with Dallas Police and 11 years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office.

He left not only two children but a wife who also served the community with the Dallas Police Department. Lorne’s devotion to his family as apparent- he had tattooed on his neck a lipstick imprint from an old love letter from his devoted wife.

Senior Corporal Lorne Ahren’s life mattered.

Dallas Police Officer Michael Krol

Michael Krol

Michael Krol

Officer Krol’s passion for protecting others started at a young age.

Shortly after high school, he worked as a security guard for a Michigan hospital where family members recall the efforts he exuded to go above and beyond to assist patients.

From there, his destiny to serve and protect was inevitable. He worked in the Wayne County jail system before an opportunity with the Dallas Police Department presented itself- a whopping 1,100 miles from home. Undeterred, Krol was grateful for the opportunity to serve.

Officer Michael Krol’s life mattered.

Dallas Police Officer Patricio “Patrick” Enrique Zamarippa

Patricio “Patrick” Enrique Zamarippa

Patricio “Patrick” Enrique Zamarippa

At only 32-years-old, Officer Zamarippa had already left a legacy.

Zamarippa had bravely endured three tours of Iraq in the Navy continuing to return. However, his real legacy is left with his love of his children.

He was frequently remembered in his uniform but proudly carrying his baby daughter along with her pink diaper bag.

amarippa was also incredibly devoted to his step son who he loved as his own frequently posting loving photos on social media together.

Officer Patrick Zamarippa’s life mattered.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit Police Officer Brent Alan Thompson

Brent Thompson

Brent Thompson

DART Officer Brent Alan Thompson, at only 43, had already served in the Marines and had given 7 years of service in the Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

Less than two weeks before the shooting, he had made an eternal commitment in pronouncing his marriage vows to another transit officer.

A newly wed, he left behind a wife, children and a church community who described him as ready with a warm embrace.

Officer Brent Thompson’s teen son tragically committed suicide a little over a year after the Dallas attack.

Officer Brent Alan Thompson’s life mattered.

Dallas Police Sergeant Michael Joseph Smith

Sergeant Michael Joseph Smith

Sergeant Michael Joseph Smith

Sergeant Smith’s devotion was apparent to all who knew him.

He was an Army Ranger who had later given more than 25 years of service in police work. He left behind two daughters he adored and a wife of 17 years.

However, he was loved by an even larger family- that of Watermark Community Church where Sergeant Smith was a staple.

He provided security for the congregation greeting worshippers every week and was often seen handing out Dallas Police stickers to children and letting them admire his police cruiser. His devotion to his community and family were unforgettable.

Sergeant Michael Joseph Smith’s life mattered.

The irony of the attack on police during an anti-police protest is not lost.

“They continued to fight for the people of Dallas, for everybody,” Abbott said of all the officers involved .

Remember that.

“That would be the thing that I would like people to remember the most is that police are here to serve and protect them. Just give us the opportunity to do that.”

Law Enforcement Today is proud to support Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) as our “charity of choice” for supporting the survivors of fallen officers.  We hope you’ll consider doing the same.

Here’s what they are all about:

Each year, between 140 and 160 officers are killed in the line of duty and their families and co-workers are left to cope with the tragic loss.  C.O.P.S. provides resources to help them rebuild their shattered lives.  There is no membership fee to join C.O.P.S., for the price paid is already too high.

C.O.P.S. was organized in 1984 with 110 individual members.  Today, C.O.P.S. membership is over 48,000 survivors.  Survivors include spouses, children, parents, siblings, significant others, and co-workers of officers who have died in the line of duty according to Federal government criteria.  C.O.P.S. is governed by a national board of law enforcement survivors.  All programs and services are administered by the National Office in Camdenton, Missouri.  C.O.P.S. has over 50 Chapters nationwide that work with survivors at the grass-roots level.

C.O.P.S. programs for survivors include the National Police Survivors’ Conference held each May during National Police Week, scholarships, peer-support at the national, state, and local levels, “C.O.P.S. Kids” counseling reimbursement program, the “C.O.P.S. Kids” Summer Camp, “C.O.P.S. Teens” Outward Bound Adventure for young adults, special retreats for spouses, parents, siblings, adult children, extended family, and co-workers, trial and parole support, and other assistance programs.

police week

Concerns of Police Survivors. (Photo courtesy Cathy and Javier Bustos)

C.O.P.S. knows that a survivor’s level of distress is directly affected by the agency’s response to the tragedy.  C.O.P.S., therefore, offers training and assistance to law enforcement agencies nationwide on how to respond to the tragic loss of a member of the law enforcement profession.  C.O.P.S. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  C.O.P.S. programs and services are funded by grants and donations.