DALLAS - One of the seven officers injured in the ambush attack on police in Dallas is speaking for the first time.
Rookie DPD Officer Gretchen Rocha had been on the job less than a month at the time of the shooting. She’s now more determined than ever to be a good officer.
It hasn't even been a year since Rocha started basic training. But she isn't letting the Dallas shooting, or the Baton Rouge shooting, scare her out of the job.
The rookie officer has already endured more than some officers do in a career.
"Well, it is the honeymoon stage for sure,” she said. “Because I would be so excited to go to work."
Rocha had those feelings ahead of her shift on July 7, the night of the protest.
"Yes, this is such a fun job, you know? And I was having so much fun,” she said.
But, it's also a dangerous job.
The rookie was right in the middle of the ambush. Almost her entire unit, the Southwest Division Foxtrot Unit, patrolled the protest. Bullets hit their patrol cars. Shrapnel struck Rocha and two other officers in her unit. And worse, gunfire killed three of their officers: Lorne Ahrens, Patrick Zamarrippa and Michael Krol.
Rocha would not talk about that night, herself, but her sergeant did. He says, despite being hit with shrapnel, the rookie officer pulled injured Officer Michael Krol off the streets and into a patrol car, then climbed into the driver's seat and drove him to a hospital. She tried to save his life.
"I'm taking care of myself and some of my injuries,” Rocha said. “But I'm just very determined to back to work and be a phenomenal police officer.”
She is strong, but does admit the shooting changed her. Rocha has shut down social media and doesn't worry about the little things, engaging more with her husband, Tomas, who is inspired to become a police officer, as well.
"It sounds so cliché until you've been through it, but making every moment count,” Rocha said. "When you can look back and say I did not waste a moment of my life, I would be very happy."
After several dark days in Dallas and another attack on police in Baton Rouge, Rocha is leaning on love.
"Love is a very powerful force, so that's all I can say about that,” the rookie officer said “Hate doesn't do as much as it wants to."
Rocha is getting counseling and taking time before returning to work, as are many in her unit. That unit has a flight early Tuesday morning to go to Michigan for Officer Michael Krol's burial. Rocha will be there to bury the officer she tried to save.