Mourners gathered in Dallas today at services for three of the five law enforcement officers gunned down in the line of duty last week, remembering the fallen as fathers, members of the military and pillars of selfless protectors of their communities.
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Today's services memorialized the lives of Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, Sgt. Michael Smith and Officer Brent Thompson, who were cut down by suspected gunman Micah Johnson during a protest against two recent, controversial police-involved shootings of black men.
Police said Johnson, a former member of the military, was intent on killing whites, especially police officers.
Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens
Dallas police Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, 48, was a father of two.
The night before Ahrens died, he bought dinner for a homeless man, President Barack Obama said at Monday's memorial service.
His wife, Katrina, is a Dallas police detective.
Dallas Police officer Debbie Taylor spoke at the service, recalling Ahrens' "6-foot-4 300 pound frame." He "not only was he bigger in physical stature but his personality, his heart and his enthusiasm for police work... and his devotion to his family were all larger than life."
Ahrens wanted to work at the "busiest and [most] dangerous substation and that was Southeast," where he was assigned after the police academy, she said. She said he once "stomped down" a fence while running through a yard after a suspect. "His enthusiasm for the job drove him to excel."
She starts to get choked up and says Ahrens and his wife were "ultimate partners," as they balanced two police careers and raised their children.
"Remember to honor his memory by honoring his life," she said. "Lorne's life mattered."
Dallas Officer Eddie Coffey said he met and befriended Ahrens in 2002 at the Dallas Police Academy. He described Ahrens as "a Los Angeles, heavy metal-listening, tattooed city boy."
"Our friendship grew over the years as he went to the Southeast station and I went to Southwest," and at Southeast "he fell for the love of his life - that's Katrina," Coffey said.
"Katrina you were his co-worker," he said as got choked up. "You were his best friend. And his dedicated wife."
"Lorne was so proud of his kids he was a big kid himself," Coffey said, recalling how Ahrens would wrestle and watch cartoons with his children, sometimes making them late for school.
As an officer, "Lorne was passionate about police-work" and "had the biggest heart and best intentions," he said. "He loved the excitement" of the front line, and "was the guy you always wanted to show up [as] your back-up."
"His size alone shocked most. Then later the situation was calmed down the big smile and the laughter would come out," Coffey said.
Coffey concluded his remarks by saying: "He will be dearly missed and I love you little brother."
Sgt. Michael Smith
Dallas police Sgt. Michael Smith, 55, was a father of two daughters and had previously served in the Army.
Smith's younger sister, Yea-Mei Smith, spoke at the service, calling her brother her role model and mentor.
He had "love, faith, grace, compassion, dignity, respect, honesty, integrity, humility, gratitude, passion, loyalty, justice, patriotism, belief in service to his country, his community ... [and] deep and complete devotion to his beautiful daughters and wife, his parents, his siblings, his family, his friends, his comrades in blue."
"He was a perfectionist," she said. "As a father nothing was good enough for his daughters."
"He worked tirelessly to provide more for them than he had," she said. "He wanted them to be strong happy intelligent and well rounded young women. We had many discussions ... about the necessity of raising our children to be better people."
"Even those he arrested were treated with respect, dignity, humanity," she said. "Years of volunteering his time to work with at risk youth hoping to make some difference."
"My heart is broken," she said. "He was taken so senselessly, violently, unjustly. And I rack my brain I pray trying to think of what he would do, say. He would tell me to pray."
"My brother's murder will not be in vain," she said. "His selfless legacy will live on."
Officer Brent Thompson
Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer Brent Thompson, 43, was a father of six and married his wife, Emily, a fellow DART officer, just weeks ago, on June 21.
The first DART officer killed in the line of duty, he previously served as a Marine and as a contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As his wife, Emily, spoke at the service, she stood with her partner, "just in case I need back up."
She said she is "honored to be a part of" the Thompson family.
"Brent showed me that even though I would doubt myself from time to time, I'm strong and can do anything," she said. Then on July 7 "that was all ripped form me in an act of senseless violence." But she said "Brent is going to want me, his family, all civilians, all law enforcement to continue on."
"This act of violence hurt law enforcement as a whole. However good will always prevail," she said. "Though I am heartbroken ... I'm going to put on my badge and uniform and return to the street."
"To the coward that tried to break me ... your hate made us stronger," Emily said. To the community, "we will continue to protect you," she said. "We will not, we cannot, we shall not let the act of a coward break us. On Brent's behalf I'm asking you all continue on press on."
Thompson's six children then stood in front of the crowd, all with touches of blue on their black outfits.
One daughter said, "his only goal in life was to provide a better life for his children." "He worked so hard to provide for us," including "countless hours of overtime so we didn't have to struggle," she said.
"We just want him to know that we love him" and "that he succeed."