'Cops cop,' newlywed, veteran among Dallas sniper victims
One slain officer was a newlywed. Another had survived multiple tours in Iraq, only to be killed back home in the U.S. A protester who doesn't normally march was shot trying to shield her sons.
The stories of those killed or wounded in a sniper attack in Dallas during a protest over recent police shootings of black men emerged Friday as their identities became known. Authorities say five officers were killed and seven others wounded in the deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Two civilians also were shot.
NEWLYWED STARTING A SECOND FAMILY
Brent Thompson, 43, worked as an officer with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit authority for the last seven years. There he found love, marrying another transit officer within the last two weeks, according to DART Chief James Spiller.
On Thursday, he became the first DART officer killed in the line of duty since the agency's police force was founded in 1989, according to spokesman Morgan Lyons.
Thompson had six grown children from a previous marriage and had recently welcomed his third grandchild, according to Tara Thornton, a close friend of Thompson's 22-year-old daughter, Lizzie. Thornton said Thompson and his close-knit family would often get together and have classic rock singalongs, with Thornton and his son, Jake, playing guitar. He lived an hour's drive south of Dallas, in Corsicana.
"He was a brave man dedicated to his family," said Thornton. "He loved being a police officer. He instantly knew that's what he wanted to do. He knew he wanted to save lives and protect people. He had a passion for it."
Before joining the DART force, Thompson worked from 2004 to 2008 for DynCorp International, a private military contractor. According to Thompson's LinkedIn page, he worked as an international police liaison officer, helping teach and mentor Iraqi police. Thompson's last position was as the company's chief of operations for southern Iraq, where he helped train teams covering Baghdad to the southern border with Kuwait. He also worked in northern Iraq and in Afghanistan, where he was a team leader and lead mentor to a southern provincial police chief.
"We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our alumni," said Mary Lawrence, a spokeswoman for Virginia-based DynCorp. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this most difficult time."
NAVY VETERAN WITH AN URGE TO SERVE
Patrick Zamarripa had an urge to serve -- first in the Navy, where his family said he did three tours in Iraq, then back home in Texas as a Dallas police officer.
"He went over there (to Iraq) and didn't get hurt at all, and he comes back to the states and gets killed," his father, Rick Zamarripa, told The Associated Press by phone Friday.
The elder Zamarripa described his son as hugely compassionate.
"Patrick would bend over backward to help anybody. He'd give you his last dollar if he had it. He was always trying to help people, protect people," Rick Zamarripa said. "As tough as he was, he was patient, very giving."
Zamarripa, who would have turned 33 next month, was married with a toddler and school-age stepchild. He joined the Navy shortly after high school in Fort Worth, serving eight years on active duty and then in the reserves, according to the Navy. The Navy doesn't release deployment details, but a Dallas Morning News reporter encountered Zamarripa in 2004 as he helped guard one of the offshore oil platforms that help fuel Iraq's post-war economic rebuilding.
"We're protecting the backbone of Iraq," Zamarripa, a petty officer who also used the first name Patricio, told the newspaper. "A terrorist attack here would send the country down the drain."
After doing security work in the Navy, a police career seemed a natural fit once he returned to Texas in 2009. Zamarripa joined the Dallas force about five years ago and recently was assigned to downtown bicycle patrols, his father said.
Zamarripa realized policing could be dangerous. His father recently put him in touch with an in-law who works elsewhere in government, hoping his son might leave the force.
"'No, I want to stay here,'" was the reply, according to his father. "'I like the action.'"
Rick Zamarripa knew his son was assigned to patrol Thursday's demonstrations, so when he saw news of the shooting on TV, he texted his son to make sure he was all right. The father did that whenever he heard officers were in danger. Typically, his son would text back quickly to say he was fine and would call back later.
This time, no reply came.
Zamarripa is survived by his wife, Kristy Villasenor, whom he'd known since high school; their 2-year-old daughter, Lyncoln, and a 10-year-old stepson.
'HE NEVER SHIED AWAY FROM HIS DUTY'
Michael Krol, 40, was a caring person who always had wanted to help others, his mother said Friday.
"He knew the danger of the job but he never shied away from his duty," Susan Ehlke of Redford, Michigan, said in a prepared statement the day after her son was killed.
Krol's family said he moved to Dallas to become a police officer in 2007 because Detroit wasn't hiring. He had worked security at a local hospital, then been a deputy at the Wayne County jail. He graduated from the Dallas Police Academy in 2008.
Meanwhile, family members told the Detroit Free Press that Krol was single with no children, but had a girlfriend in Dallas. He had texted her the night of the protest saying everything was going peacefully. She later told Brian Schoenbaechler -- Krol's brother-in-law -- that she became concerned when word spread about shots being fired and Krol was no longer answering his phone.
Krol, who was athletic and had a love for basketball, was known for helping others, according to family and friends.
"He was a guy that was serving others," said Schoenbaechler. "And he gave his life in service of others."
A 'COPS' COP'
Michael Smith, 55, was a veteran officer who was once selected by the Dallas Police Association's for the "Cops' Cop" award.
Father Michael Forge, pastor at Mary Immaculate Catholic Church, notified parishioners of Smith's death in an email sent Friday. Smith, his wife Heidi and their two daughters were part of the parish in Farmers Branch north of Dallas.
"As you may have heard by now officer Mike Smith, husband of fourth grade teacher Heidi Smith and father of Victoria (Class of 2016) and Caroline (incoming 4th grade) was shot and killed last night in Dallas while on duty," Father Michael Forge wrote. "I'm asking all of us to pull together in prayer and support for the Smith family, as well as the other officers' families who were killed along with Mike."
Smith was a U.S. Army Ranger before joining the Dallas Police Department in 1989.
He was recognized as conscientious and for his positive attitude, according to a 2009 newsletter for the Dallas Police Association. He strove for excellence, often attending advanced training on his own dime and strove for excellence.
Several years ago, he intervened when a gang member lunged at his partner. Smith was cut on the head during the incident and received 31 stitches.
He was a volunteer at the YMCA and his church, and was involved in working with kids at risk, and once developed a racquetball program for kids at the local YMCA, the newsletter said.
"He's just a really nice guy. He loved his wife, loved his daughters. He spent time with his family. The whole situation is really sad," Vanessa Smith, a friend of the officer's wife who is not related to the family, told The Associated Press.
'A BIG GUY WITH AN EVEN BIGGER HEART'
There was a lot of Lorne Ahrens to love.
His size -- 6-foot-5, 300 pounds -- certainly "helped him in his work" as a Dallas police officer, his father-in-law, Charlie Buckingham, told the Washington Post (http://wapo.st/29nXlZZ) Friday, the day after Ahrens was killed.
The former semi-pro football player rose from dispatcher at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to become a senior corporal on the Dallas police force.
"Lorne was a big guy with an even bigger heart," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Capt. Merrill Ladenheim said in a department Facebook post on Friday.
Former colleagues at the sheriff's department described Ahrens as an incredible dispatcher who served the patrol deputies in the field well by always looking out for them and taking officer safety into account.
Ahrens began work at the sheriff's department in 1991 and left for Dallas in January 2002.
In a 2003 incident, Ahrens, with his lineman's build, sprinted fast enough to tackle a suspected cocaine dealer running away from a bust, according to court documents.
On Thursday, Buckingham had been watching the events in downtown Dallas unfold from his home in Burleson, Texas. His daughter, a Dallas police detective, and son-in-law also live in the town about 55 miles southwest of Dallas with their 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son.
He figured his son-in-law could be there and that his daughter was asleep since she had to be up by 3 a.m. for an early shift. So Buckingham and his wife decided to drive over. He said they got there just a few minutes after Dallas police knocked on her door.
"They told her she should come down to the hospital," Buckingham said.
Buckingham and his wife stayed with the children while Katrina Ahrens went to the hospital. Buckingham said Ahrens was already out of surgery when Katrina Ahrens arrived. Then something went wrong.
Doctors had to take him back in, and he died, Buckingham said.
The couple had an understanding about their chosen careers.
"She was fine with it," Buckingham said. "She was a police officer, too."
A BULLET BROKE HER SHOULDER
From her hospital room, Dallas Area Rapid Transit authority Officer Misty McBride told family and friends the day after she was struck by gunfire that she just wanted to return to work, according to one of her friends.
"She's ready to get back out there," Wendy Carson said Friday just after visiting the officer and her family. "She's a very, very strong woman."
McBride, an officer and mother of a 10-year-old girl, was recovering from bullets that her father said struck her abdomen and arm, breaking her shoulder.
Richard McBride told reporters at the hospital that he and his wife learned from one of McBride's colleagues that their daughter fell to the ground when shot and started crawling toward a police car. Another officer picked her up and drove her to the hospital, where her family joined her Thursday night.
"I'm just glad that she's alive, really," her daughter, Hunter, told reporters as she stood outside the hospital. "I said that 'I love you' and that 'I'm glad you're here.'"
Carson, the owner of a salon and spa in the Dallas suburb where McBride and her family live, said the officer and her parents are longtime clients who became friends over the years. She described McBride as a dedicated officer who often speaks with excitement about learning new policing skills and never discusses the dangers of her work.
"As far as who she is, the person she is, she would protect people even if she wasn't in uniform," Carson said "She is always willing to protect and serve, even off duty."
SHOT PROTECTING HER SONS
Shetamia Taylor wasn't one to protest publicly, but recent shootings of black men by police motivated her to head to downtown Dallas with her four sons. The 37-year-old Amazon employee was shot in the calf after trying to shield them when gunfire erupted, according to her sister.
Taylor was "fed up" so she decided to march with her sons -- ages 12, 13, 15 and 17 -- her sister, Theresa Williams, said. "She's got four boys who she just wants to be able to be peacefully out here in the world," Williams said.
Amid the chaos, Taylor's 15-year-old son, Andrew ran to his mother, who had fell from the impact of the shot, and cradled her neck, Williams said.
The bullet shattered her tibia, Williams said. She came out of surgery around 3:30 a.m. Friday at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas and remained in the hospital recuperating. Two of Taylor's sons left the demonstration with her, but the other two, Jamar, 12, and Kavion, 17, had fled for cover in a downtown hotel and were stuck behind a police barricade until around 4 a.m., when their father was able to pick them up, Williams said.
Taylor's other sister, Sherie Williams, said her own four children "can't sleep because of what's going on." Williams said she could hardly believe her sister had been shot just over a year after her own 26-year-old son was shot in Minneapolis.
RURAL KID TO BIG CITY OFFICER
Gretchen Rocha came to the Dallas police force by way of the farm.
The 23-year-old was wounded by shrapnel, but the family didn't know the details of how Rocha was hurt or the extent of her injuries.
Rocha grew up just outside Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, where she was home-schooled and loved riding the family's horses, her mother, Diane Bayer, said. Becoming a police officer or soldier was her dream, Bayer said, and Rocha attended a police academy at Madison Area Technical College.
Classmates called her "Mama Rocha" and she won an award for unifying the class, her sister, Katrina Schwartz, said.
Rocha used her Spanish language skills during an internship with the Madison Police Department in the summer of 2013, spokesman Joel DeSpain said, helping with a program called Amigos en Azul ("Friends in Blue").
"She was a very competent and poised young woman," DeSpain said.
Rocha joined the Dallas Police Department in 2014 after she couldn't find any jobs in Wisconsin, Schwartz said. Rocha's husband's family is from Houston.
Schwartz said she asked her sister if she still wanted to be a police officer.
"The way she put it is, 'I'm still in this,'" Schwartz said her sister told her. "She's so tough."
A GAY OFFICER WHO PUSHED FOR CHANGE
When his marriage wasn't legally recognized, Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer Jesus Retana helped change the way DART treats same-sex partners of its employees.
Retana, 39, joined the agency's force in April 2006. He and his husband, Andrew Moss, worked with a gay rights group called the Resource Center to win benefits for same-sex partners of DART employees.
Moss lobbied for the benefits after an illness made him too sick to work and the Resource Center took up the fight, the Dallas Morning News reported in 2012.
Moss told the newspaper that Retana is open about his relationship at work and is supported by his colleagues.
Resource Center communications manager Rafael McDonnell called Retana a friend and said he was recovering after leaving the hospital, where he received treatment for unspecified injuries.
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Justin Pritchard in Los Angeles; Denise Lavoie in Boston; Jennifer Peltz in New York; Kimberlee Kruesi in Boise, Idaho; Todd Richmond in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin; Alina Hartounian in Phoenix; Christine Armario and Emily Schmall in Dallas; Mary Hudetz in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Lisa Baumann in Seattle.