One was a newlywed. Another had survived multiple tours in Iraq.
The stories of the officers gunned down in a sniper attack in Dallas during a protest over recent police shootings of black men emerged Friday as their identities became known. Authorities say five officers were killed and at least seven others wounded in the deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Officer Brent Thompson, 43, had worked as an officer for the Dallas Area Rapid Transit authority for the last seven years.
DART Chief James Spiller said Thompson had married another DART officer within the last two weeks.
"Brent was a great officer," Spiller told MSNBC early Friday. "He has served admirably during his time here at DART."
Thompson, who lived in Corsicana, Texas, had six grown children from a previous marriage and had recently welcomed his third grandchild, said Tara Thornton, a close friend of Thompson's 22-year-old daughter, Lizzie. Thornton said Thompson and his close-knit family would often get together and have classic rock singalongs, with Thornton and his son, Jake, playing guitars.
"He was a brave man dedicated to his family," said Thornton.
"He loved being a police officer. He instantly knew that's what he wanted to do. He knew he wanted to save lives and protect people. He had a passion for it," she said. "He was just a wonderful guy."
Before joining the DART force, Thompson worked from 2004 to 2008 for DynCorp International, an American private military contractor. According to Thompson's LinkedIn page, he worked as an international police liaison officer, helping teach and mentor Iraqi police. Thompson's last position was as the company's chief of operations for southern Iraq, where he helped train teams covering Baghdad to the southern border with Kuwait. He also worked in northern Iraq and in Afghanistan, where he was a team leader and lead mentor to the southern provincial police chief.
"We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our alumni. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this most difficult time," said Mary Lawrence, a spokeswoman for DynCorp, headquartered in McLean, Virginia.
Dallas police officer Patrick Zamarripa had survived three tours in Iraq with the Navy, his father, Rick Zamarripa, told The Washington Post. When he got out of the service five years ago, he joined the Dallas Police Department and recently started working a bicycle patrol in downtown.
"He comes to the United States to protect people here," Zamarripa said. "And they take his life."
Officer Zamarripa was married and the father of a 2-year-old daughter. Outside his devotion to helping people, he was an avid Rangers and Cowboys fan, his father said.
When the elder Zamarripa heard about the shootings, he texted his son, as he had many times before to ensure he was OK. This time, for the first time, he got no response.