One Year Later: Dallas Police Ambush
DALLAS - July 7 marks the one-year anniversary of the deadliest incident for U.S. law enforcement since Sept. 11. Five Dallas officers were killed during an ambush on a peaceful protest in Downtown Dallas.
The gunman, Micah Johnson, opened fire on the officers who were protecting protestors. He murdered DART Officer Brent Thompson and Dallas police officers Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Sergeant Michael Smith and Corporal Lorne Ahrens.
Johnson was later killed by a police robot armed with explosives in El Centro College.
All week, FOX 4 News has shared the stories of people whose lives were forever changed by that night.
A mother who was shot during the sniper attack on Dallas police hopes to bring the community together by talking about her experience.
Shetamia Taylor was at the Black Lives Matter march with four of her sons when a bullet tore through her leg. As she was running, she saw an officer get shot.
She recalled other officers surrounding her. One officer jumped on top of her and covered her and one son who was still with her. Then she saw a second officer get shot.
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Thursday's 'Night of Honor' was the first of many events to honor the officers and their families impacted by the deadly ambush on July 7, 2016.
DART Officer Brent Thompson, Dallas Police Senior Corporal Loren Ahrens, Officer Michael Krol, Sgt. Michael Smith and Officer Patrick Zamarripa were killed in the ambush.
The Dallas Police Department held the private ceremony to honor dozens of officers, including those who lost their lives or risked their lives. Several public events will begin Friday.
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A memorial dedication was held Thursday morning for the officers who were killed during the July 7 ambush in Downtown Dallas.
"Today is a shining example of that support and faith of what the community has for the men and women of the Dallas Police Department," said Interim Chief David Pughes.
The Dallas Circle of Heroes honors DART Officer Brent Thompson and Dallas police officers Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Sgt. Michael Smith and Cpl. Lorne Ahrens. Making up the circle are five stones with plaques that tell each of their stories.
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The night started out like any other at Parkland Hospital. But within hours, it would change everyone involved.
"The night that went down, I knew we were seeing history, that it was historic," said Dallas County Hospital Police Capt. Dan Birbeck.
After the first shots were fired downtown, the calls at Parkland started coming in.
"The page went out that there was a gunshot victim was coming in," recalled Dr. Brian H. Williams, a Parkland trauma surgeon.
"That officer was brought in by another officer," recalled Nurse Jorie Klein. "Very quickly, another officer arrived."
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On the night of the ambush shootings last summer, one brave DART bus driver used his bus to drive people away from the dangerous scene.
A year after the shootings, Donald Washington still can't bear to look at El Centro College. He is taking his vacation to avoid seeing Downtown Dallas on the anniversary of the shootings.
"It was gonna bring back not fond memories," he told FOX4's Shaun Rabb, "It was gonna bring back gruesome memories."
The 30-year driver volunteered to drive his bus and pick people up, helping diffuse a tense time between police and hecklers. Praying, he successfully persuaded people to get on to his bus.
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El Centro College in Downtown Dallas found itself at the center of the July ambush attack. Several students were inside the building when the gunman started shooting.
The school was hijacked by the gunman, Micah Johnson, from which he unleashed a barrage of gunfire.
El Centro College President Jose Adames was out of town that night but remembers his phone lighting up after 8:57 p.m. He took a call from his vice president.
"So I stepped outside, and my world changed," Adames recalled.
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The days and weeks after the July 7 ambush, the Dallas Police Department saw an outpouring of public support from across the globe.
Flowers, cards, and other mementos were placed on top of a squad car in front of the DPD headquarters at an impromptu tribute to the fallen officers.
Although the memorial is no longer there, the items have been preserved at a local library.
Jo Giudice's job is director of the Dallas Library. But what's being kept in the basement is her passion: the July 7 memorial collection.Giudice's job is director of the Dallas Library. But what's being kept in the basement is her passion: the July 7 memorial collection.
The collection wouldn't exist had Giudice not heard rain was in the forecast a few days after the Dallas shooting. She instantly thought of the memorials at Dallas Police and DART headquarters.
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Early in the evening of July 7, 2016, the march in Downtown Dallas was peaceful. Executive Assistant Chief of Police David Pughes went home to handle a minor emergency.
"I get a call from the incident commander, the assistant chief, who says we have shots fired out here at the protest," Pughes recalled. "As you can imagine, it's just chaos. Between the radio and the telephone, and I'm trying to figure out where should I go. That was the biggest challenge."
Then, Pughes heard unconfirmed reports of officers down.
"By the time I do get to the downtown area, we get confirmation of two officers shot," he recalled. "And they're going to take them to Parkland. So I decide that's where I need to be."
But before Pughes got there, he was told the two officers passed away.
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A banner of Dallas police Officer Patrick Zamarripa proudly hangs outside the Saginaw home where the 32-year-old Navy veteran who served three tours in Iraq grew up.
Inside the house that is still owned by his father, the fireplace is covered with photographs honoring his memory.
"I have some pictures of him from first grade and I have some other pictures of him, he's clowning around," said Rick Zamarripa. "I have my moments. The first two months were very difficult, very difficult."
Rick recalled sitting in his recliner and watching the news on July 7, 2016, when his life suddenly changed.
"Breaking news: a police officer was shot in Dallas and I said, 'Oh no, that's Patrick,'" he said.
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With a picture of fallen DART Police Officer Brent Thompson watching over him, Navarro County District Attorney Lowell Thompson reflects on one year since his little brother's murder.
"We were more worried about him coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan," said Lowell, Ofc. Thompson's brother. "We were shocked that he came back from there and got killed here."
The 43-year-old Marine veteran was one of the five police officers killed in the ambush. Lowell watched the tragedy unfold on the news.
"Then I saw the video on TV from the cell phone … looked at that and said that's my brother," Lowell said.
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Texan sculptor Barvo Walker will be sculpting the memorial statue for the five Dallas officers that were killed in the ambush shootings last year.
This project will be emotional for Walker, as he calls Texas home and has a special appreciation towards police.
"I have a real affinity for police," Walker said. "I know they get a lot of criticism, but we would in a very unsafe world if we didn't have police. In my opinion, they are underpaid."
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On the fateful night of July 7, former Dallas Police Chief David Brown decided to kill the man who had slain five Dallas officers hours earlier. He has no regrets about making that decision.
"We had been negotiating for three and a half hours," Brown told FOX4's Shaun Rabb. "They had been at work for over 12 hours and I was unwilling to have another officer seriously injured or killed. It was the right decision to weaponize that robot, strap a pound of C4, roll it down that hallway, ratchet up negotiations and press the button and kill him."
Brown still constantly thinks about that night. But he realizes that the families of the fallen officers will be grieving the hardest.
"Over and over again, all the time, and it's always gut-wrenching and very emotional," Brown said. "The anniversary coming up it's just bubbling up the emotions again, not just for me, but this is about those families who miss their loved ones and those kids of those officers who are grieving missing their daddy." NEW
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