Dallas cop killing is 'gut-wrenching,' 'too much to bear' in wake of sniper attack: Former police chief

PHOTO: Two Dallas police officers and a Home Depot loss prevention officer were shot in Dallas, Texas, April 24, 2018.PlayABC News
WATCH 2 police officers, employee shot at Home Depot

The shooting that killed a Dallas police officer on Tuesday is "gut-wrenching" and "too much to bear" in the wake of the deadly sniper attack that targeted Dallas police officers less than two years ago, says the city's former police chief.

Rogelio Santander, a young Dallas police officer, died this morning after he was shot in the line of duty Tuesday afternoon.

PHOTO: A view of the scene where a police-involved shooting took place, April 24, 2018, in Dallas. WFAA
A view of the scene where a police-involved shooting took place, April 24, 2018, in Dallas.

A second Dallas police officer, Crystal Almeida, and a Home Depot loss prevention officer, Scott Painter, were also shot during the attack. They are both in critical condition but are making "remarkable recoveries," Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall said today.

The suspect was arrested Tuesday night.

This shooting comes less than two years after a sniper targeted Dallas police, gunning down five law enforcement in July 2016. The sniper attack was the deadliest day for United States law enforcement since 9/11.

PHOTO: A Dallas police officer, takes a moment as she guards an intersection after a shooting in downtown Dallas, July 8, 2016. LM Otero/AP, FILE
A Dallas police officer, takes a moment as she guards an intersection after a shooting in downtown Dallas, July 8, 2016.
PHOTO: Dallas Police respond after shots were fired at a Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Dallas, July 7, 2016. Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News/via Reuters, FILE
Dallas Police respond after shots were fired at a Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Dallas, July 7, 2016.

"The grieving process hadn't played itself out -- before you can even finish grieving, you end up facing two more officers being shot," said former Dallas police chief and ABC News contributor David Brown. "It seems too much to bear in such a short time for a department."

Brown, who was the police chief at the time of the 2016 attack, retired several months later after 33 years with the department.

The Dallas Police Department is a strong and "tight-knit family" in the wake of the sniper attack, Brown said, but the department and the law enforcement profession overall still face tireless battles beyond the daily risks of the job: Applications are down nationwide, law enforcement deaths are on the rise and the public, in some cases, is losing trust in the officers in their community.

PHOTO: A DART police officer receives comfort at Baylor University Hospital emergency room entrance, July 7, 2016, in Dallas. Ting Shen/Dallas Morning News/Reuters, FILE
A DART police officer receives comfort at Baylor University Hospital emergency room entrance, July 7, 2016, in Dallas.

Dallas officers are "still coming to work and doing their jobs, but it's a tough environment," Brown said. "They're pretty beat down. They're so concerned about what's next. It just seems like, it's like this cloud over the department."

Brown also stressed the impact of the job on the family of officers, whom he likes to call "second responders."

"They're not on the scene, they're not on the job, but they're living it," he said. "They're afraid for their loved one."

PHOTO: FBI investigators look over the crime scene in Dallas, July 8, 2016, following a shooting incident that killed five police officers. Carlo Allegri/Reuters, FILE
FBI investigators look over the crime scene in Dallas, July 8, 2016, following a shooting incident that killed five police officers.
PHOTO: A clerk looks at broken windows shot out at a store in downtown Dallas, July 8, 2016. LM Otero/AP, FILE
A clerk looks at broken windows shot out at a store in downtown Dallas, July 8, 2016.

Tuesday marked the first deadly shooting of a Dallas officer since the sniper attack, though several suburban departments in the area have lost officers recently, Brown said.

To Brown, the loss is "gut-wrenching."

Almeida and Santander both joined the force three years ago, The Dallas Morning News reported.

"It's amazing to me the young people that still want to go into the profession," said Brown. "It takes a lot of character and courage."

Almeida "is doing amazingly well," Michael Mata, president of the Dallas Police Association, told reporters today. "She’s able to move parts of her arms and legs."

Mata added, "She’s a fighter. The doctors treating her are greatly surprised in the improvements that she’s made in the last 24 hours. We just ask for continued prayers. It’s going to be a very, very long road for her."

Mata called Santander "an amazing young man" who was widely respected in his community.

"We are going to take care of his family. They will for always and forever be a part of the Dallas Police Association and the Dallas Police Department," he said.