A year after Dallas ambush, we honor sacrifice of the fallen

Officers salute Dallas police Sr. Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, killed in last year’s shooting.
Officers salute Dallas police Sr. Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, killed in last year’s shooting. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

A year ago today, as he worked to keep the peace at a protest in downtown Dallas, Patrick Zamarippa was gunned down by a sniper.

The Dallas policeman, who lived with his young family in North Fort Worth — who attended Paschal High School, loved his family and the Texas Rangers, and served in the U.S Navy — was one of five officers killed in the line of duty that day.

The attack remains one of the country’s worst mass police shootings.

Zamarippa and his brothers in blue were the innocent victims of a gunman who acted alone, ambushing police to satisfy his rage.

The incident was isolated. Statistics confirm such events are rare.

But when the headlines report yet another officer was “assassinated in an unprovoked attack on cops,” (NYPD officer Miosotis Familia was killed Tuesday night), it begins to feel like a trend.

Law enforcement officers have always understood the risks associated with their job.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 143 officers died in the line of duty last year, including 19 in Texas.

Not all line-of-duty deaths are at the hands of an enraged criminal — 27 of the 67 deaths recorded by the NLEO so far this year, for example, were traffic-related.

The cause of death does not change the stark reality that the officers died in service of their communities, working for the people they were sworn to protect.

Dallas police officer Patrick Zamarripa's mother, Valerie, relives the night her son was killed. (video by Jared L. Christopher)

And the perception that the dangers of the job have increased — the feeling that wearing a badge is now the equivalent of wearing a target — takes a toll on officers and the people they serve.

So it’s important to remember as we honor last year’s fallen heroes, how much these officers sacrificed to keep us safe.

A day after the Dallas shootings, Tyler Bullock talked about his friend and former teammate on the Paschal High School baseball team. 'He had more heart than all of us combined.'