Dallas police major reflects on ‘hellish’ night, watching friend get executed

Dallas Police respond after shots were fired at a Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Dallas on Thursday, July 7, 2016.
Dallas Police respond after shots were fired at a Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Dallas on Thursday, July 7, 2016. The Dallas Morning News

In the wake of Thursday’s shootings in Dallas, a wave of emotions swept over the nation, and many people turned to social media to express their sadness, fear, frustration and anger.

But most of those people were not directly involved in the chaos downtown, and almost none of them were wearing a badge.

On Saturday, Major Max Geron of the Dallas police department, posted a cathartic, eye-opening and ultimately heartbreaking account of the “hellish situation” and answered the most frequent question he’s been asked in the aftermath: “how are you doing.”

The ambush-style attack that killed five police officers and left seven more injured started after a peaceful Black Lives Matter march and rally in downtown Thursday evening. The gunman, who was later identified as Micah Johnson of Mesquite, was eventually cornered by police in a parking garage at El Centro Community College. After several hours of trying to get him to surrender, they sent in a bomb-disposal robot that detonated and killed him.

Geron’s story describes the tragic ordeal, and provides insight into the psyche of officers who are trained to run toward a potentially deadly situation and protect the public.

Samuel Rodela captured this video Thursday night from his apartment window after the shooting started.

The most chilling part of Geron’s account, which appeared on the Homeland Security Watch website, is his description of watching the execution-style killing of one of his comrades in arms captured on cell phone footage:

“The shooter could be seen in front of El Centro college with its distinctive concrete pillars on Lamar St. He was moving and shooting – ducking behind and re-emerging from the pillars shooting at officers. Finally you could see one officer working to engage the shooter move behind one of the pillars. However this time, the shooter was advancing on the officer but the officer didn’t know it. The officer moved to the right and looked down the right side of the pillar just as the shooter rounded the left side of the pillar and from a couple of feet away, shot the officer with an assault rifle. Then he stood over him and executed him by shooting him in the head,” he wrote.

“All of us in the command post visibly recoiled at that sight. It was the stuff of flash picture memories – the kind you have when you can tell someone where you were when men landed on the moon, when you learned that the Challenger space craft exploded or any other incredibly significant event in your life occurs. In that instant it was indelibly burned into our brains.”

Geron later learned the officer in that video was Lorne Ahrens, who lived in Burleson with his wife and fellow DPD officer, Katrina, whom Geron had supervised in the Crimes Against Person unit.

“Upon learning Lorne was among those killed, we all knew we had watched his death shortly before. He was the officer behind the pillar who was ambushed and shot before he could react. He was (the) one trying to protect our freedom to peaceably assemble and was summarily executed for doing so.”

“That was devastating because I knew Lorne and his wife Katrina,” Geron wrote. “They used to go to game nights hosted by some friends and he had always been friendly and had a smile on his face.”

Geron’s story deserves to be read in its entirety at hlswatch.com.

He concludes with his answer to the question, “how are you doing?”

“I need more sleep, I need to grieve, I need to do my job and I need to lead officers of whom I am extremely proud to serve along-side.” Geron wrote. “These are truly men and women who are guardians of the City of Dallas. We can improve how we deal with conflict and deescalate tense situations and we can also support a police department with a history of reaching out and inclusivity with its citizenry.

“I’m struggling like the rest of my brothers and sisters in blue.”

Warning graphic content