Family and friends honor slain Dallas officers Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa with candlelight vigils

Published in The New York Daily News on July 11, 2016

Candlelight vigils in Texas paid tribute to the officers slain in the Dallas sniper attack, with one officer remembered for his love of family and duty and another for relentless heroism.

DART officer Brent Thompson, 43, was remembered Sunday evening by his brother, Darrell Thompson, as a beloved father to six adult children.

“He put himself in harm’s way to protect and save the lives of his fellow officers and the citizens of Dallas,” said Thompson, speaking to hundreds of people, including his family at Coriscana High School.

A procession of police cruisers and motorcycles escorted Thompson’s body to a funeral home 55 miles south of Dallas in his hometown of Coriscana, KDFW-TV reported.

“He is a hero, but our family already knew that,” Darrell Thompson said.

He recalled his brother calling him all the way from Iraq while working as a private military contractor — just to check on Darrell’s newborn daughter, who was undergoing heart surgery.

He had no news for Brent, but from thousands of miles away, Brent said “Don’t worry. She’s a Thompson. She’ll be fine.”

“He was in a hostile land trying to comfort me. Hero,” the grieving brother added.

In Fort Worth, another candlelight vigil welcomed a diverse crowd of leather-clad law enforcement bikers with the Iron Pigs motorcycle club and members of the All Saints Catholic Church to celebrate Dallas police Officer Patrick Zamarripa’s life.

The five-year law enforcement veteran and Naval veteran was described by his police superiors in Dallas Police Department as an “outstanding officer,” a title his aunt, Lanette Martinez, explained was exemplified through his work until his death on Thursday — one of the five officers killed while patrolling a Black Lives Matter march through downtown Dallas.

Recalling an anecdote from a 9 a.m. service from All Saint on Sunday, Martinez said her 32-year-old nephew helped a single mother and her four children feel safe after they bought a foreclosed home with a troubled past.

“She moved in and come to find out that home was owned by drug dealers,” Martinez told the primarily Hispanic congregation.

“All day and all night, people were coming and looking for drugs and the guy. Finally she made a call and Patrick happened to get that call. He went out. He didn’t go one night, he didn’t go two nights, he didn’t go three nights. He went as many times as he could for so many months up until Thursday to check on this woman and her children.”

“That’s the kind of police officer Patrick was,” she added.

A priest at the Fort Worth church comforted Zamarripa’s father, Rick, with an embrace as his the officer’s mother, Valerie, cried alongside during Holy Communion. The distraught parents quickly left the service after the priest prayed for the couple.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price also spoke at the evening vigil and described the Zamarripa family as “pillars” of their community. She offered a stern warning to those that listened.

“This is a time where if we’re not careful, we’ll harden our hearts and let hatred take hold,” Price said. “We cannot do that. Fort Worth is not that kind of community.”

Zamarripa is survived by a wife, 2-year-old son and 10-month-old stepson.


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