El Centro College moving forward after tragedy

El Centro College in Downtown Dallas found itself at the center of the July ambush attack. Several students were inside the building when the gunman started shooting.

The school was hijacked by the gunman, Micah Johnson, from which he unleashed a barrage of gunfire.

El Centro College President Jose Adames was out of town that night but remembers his phone lighting up after 8:57 p.m. He took a call from his vice president.

"So I stepped outside, and my world changed,” Adames recalled.

Summer school was in session. A few dozen people were in a night class. The chief of police at the college prepared for the planned protest. He put officers on the first floor, but Johnson shot his way in through the glass doors.

"’Where is this happening?’”Adames asked on the phone. “And the chief responded, 'He's in the building.'"

Corporal Bryan Shaw and Officer John Abbott, two El Centro College officers, confronted Johnson and were injured.

Adames was among the first to step through this stairway with FBI agents after the shooting.

"Could you imagine the bravery of the officers?” he said. “That someone has an automatic rifle and is shooting down and you're trying to see if you can stop this person."

Adames then saw the second-floor window near the library, where the brunt of the ambush was carried out and the hallway where he hid. It was gutted by the explosive delivered by a robot, which killed Johnson and ended the attack.

“I felt like our institution had been violated,” Adames said. “We had done nothing to deserve this, but we're not going to be defined by this either."

A year later, repairs have been made at the college, and more officers have been hired. The college police force has grown to more than 20.

Many North Texans say Dallas Strong, but Adames remembers that day he felt El Centro Strong.

"I asked everybody in the room to stand up and I asked them to turn to the left or the right and hug the person next to them. And that was just so emotional,” he recalled. “El Centro is not going to be defined by this horrific event that occurred here."

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