Dallas police victims newlywed, Iraq veteran
One officer was a newlywed. Another had survived multiple tours in Iraq. A protester 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, including a former Wayne County sheriff’s deputy, Michael Krol, 40, who lived in Redford Township, 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.
A Bullet Broke Her Shoulder
Misty McBride, an officer with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit authority, was shot in the arm and abdomen, according to her father, who said the bullet that struck her arm broke her shoulder.
Overall, McBride was doing “fine,” her father, Richard McBride, told reporters as she awaited surgery at a Dallas hospital Thursday night.
Richard McBride and his wife learned from one of his daughter’s colleagues that she 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 soon joined her.
“I’m just glad that she’s alive, really,” her 10-year-old daughter, Hunter, told reporters. “I said that ‘I love you and that I’m glad you’re here.’ ”
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.