Remembering The Fallen On A Dark Day In Dallas History

UPDATED | July 7, 2017 1:22 PM

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Remembering five lives lost and the impact events had on North Texas. Today Dallas looks back on the one-year anniversary of a deadly police ambush.

It was on this day last year when a peaceful march against police shootings, ended with the shooting of police. In the end four officers with the Dallas Police Department and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) officer were dead.

The shooting is the deadliest assault on U.S. law enforcement since the September 11 attacks.

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Five large portraits of the officers killed in the recent sniper attack stand near the podium at a “Dallas Strong” candlelight vigil outside City Hall in Dallas. (credit: Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty Images)

Fallen in the line of duty were Dallas police Officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Patrick Zamarripa and DART Officer Brent Thompson. Many of their peers don’t think 12 months is long enough to emotionally heal, but they continue on and are boosted by the support of the community.

DART police Chief James Spiller said, “We struggle some days to work through our emotions and still ask why.  But we continue because we know that’s what our fallen brothers and friends and their families expect us to do.”

Events on July 7, 2016 came to an end when police cornered the man who shot and killed the officers, Micah Xavier Johnson, above the loading area at El Centro College. Police sent a bomb robot in with an explosive device, and detonated it near Johnson. This morning El Centro marked the occasion with a special ceremony.

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(credit: McKinney Police Department)

One hour before that law enforcement officers in North Texas and across the state set aside a time of remembrance and mark the anniversary by turning on the red and blue lights of their units for one full minute.

Saturday morning there will be a 5K Run For The Blue, an Officer Down Historic Motorcycle Ride and a Value of a Life Festival in Trinity Groves. That night buildings in downtown Dallas will light up in remembrance. Buildings will be lit in blue and then, to symbolize peace, will change to olive green for the next six days.

Last year two patrol cars parked outside of the Dallas Police Department’s headquarters were turned into a giant memorial. The cars were covered with flowers, cards, balloons, inspirational notes and candles.

Today new memorials are being built — plans are in the works to build a memorial in front of Dallas police headquarters and a sculpture is being commissioned on the grounds of El Centro College.

On Thursday the Dallas Circle Of Heroes Memorial was unveiled in the design district. Each stone of the memorial has a bronze plaque with the names of the fallen and inscriptions that tell each officer’s personal story.

The shots fired last year took the life of Officer Patrick Zamarripa. The 32-year-old Fort Worth native was a loving father. He was also a Navy veteran who survived three tours during the Iraq War.

Officer Michael Krol was a Michigan native who dreamed of serving and protecting in Dallas. After working as a security guard and a corrections officer, the 40-year-old served with the department for eight years.

Sr. Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, a former semi-pro football player, served with the Dallas Police Department for 14 years. Loved ones said he had a crooked smile and a wicked sense of humor. He was a father of two and husband to a fellow police officer.

Sgt. Michael Smith was also the father of two kids. Family said the 55-year-old died doing what he loved. He was a former Army ranger, and had been married for 17 years.

Officer Brent Thompson is the first DART officer to die in the line of duty. The 43-year-old officer had just married a fellow transit officer two weeks before the shooting. Thompson also left behind six children.

A number of special events and memorials are planned for the July 7 weekend, but one of the largest is expected to be a public memorial ceremony being held tonight in front of Dallas City Hall.

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