Events honor Dallas police ambush victims

- Dallas police and the community came together Friday to honor the officers who were killed in a Downtown Dallas attack a year ago.

Five officers were killed, nine others were injured and two civilians were hurt on July 6, 2016.

Police officers and their families and people from the community came together Friday night at Dallas City Hall for the main ceremony, Tribute 7/7, to commemorate the somber day.

Many people there had a connection to that night, including Chaplains who descended about police substations to help support officers, dispatchers who were working that night, and some family members of the fallen five officers.

Several local politicians also spoke at the tribute to thank officers for their bravery. But Eddie Bernice Johnson and Royce West both made statements vowing to keep fighting for body armor, education and support that officers need to do their jobs.

Although they did not speak, Interim Dallas Police Chief David Pughes and former Chief David Brown were both also in attendance at the tribute to honor the fallen five officers.

The honor flag presented at the ceremony will be on display in Dallas for 91 hours to mark the combined years of service of the fallen five.

After the opening ceremony, the crowd took part in a commemorative march.

Hundreds of people from across North Texas came to El Centro College on Friday morning for a commemorative ceremony to honor those killed and wounded. The focus was on renewing and rebuilding the spirit of the college and surrounding community.

An art display was unveiled showing a conceptual rendering of a tree with images projected on the branches reflecting the strength and spirit of El Centro.

El Centro Police Officer John Abbott, who was wounded the evening of July 7, said all the support is uplifting.  

"The outpouring of support that we get from everybody, the strength of the college and the community that has come back together, the brotherhood that we see with everybody that's here,” Abbott said.

El Centro's president said he was committed to building relationships with the community and police in remembrance of the July 7 tragedy. The college also announced the commissioning of a commemorative sculpture which will be completed and unveiled during the semester.

Police discussed the progress of the department one year after the tragic July 7 attack and the process of moving forward at an afternoon event.

A panel including the ranking members of all three police departments involved in the attack -- Dallas, DART and the Dallas County Community College Police Department – discussed progress made in one year.

Assistant Dallas Police Chief Randal Blankenbaker said the shooting remains an active investigation even a year later. 

Police said there were 34 dash or body cameras that contained thousands of hours of video integral to the investigation. Blankenbaker said the post-attack investigation took a toll on his detectives, with them having to view videos showing different angles of their colleagues being murdered.

But despite the horror and chaos of that night there were lessons learned.

“Our protest management approach has changed we often look at trying to keep the distance and the peace at the same time expressing first amendment rights,” Interim Chief David Pughes said.

Blankenbaker said they recovered more than 200 shell casings, with the majority of those from inside El Centro College within a 44 foot corridor. That's the distance and magnitude of the gun fight between shooter Micah Johnson and the police officers holding him at bay.

Dallas police said its investigation will wrap up next week, at which time they will send their information to the Dallas County Grand Jury.

On Friday, law enforcement officials across the state paused and turned on their flashing lights for one minute at 10 a.m. as a show of unity.

A Run for the Blue 5K race is planned on Saturday, as well as a motorcycle ride.

Thursday night the Dallas Police Department held a private honor ceremony for 100 officers and their heroic acts on July 7, 2016. Fourteen of them received a medal of honor for their bravery. Since 1952, only 28 such medals have been awarded.

Police crosses which represent the greatest sacrifice an officer can make were also given to the relatives of DART Officer Brent Thompson, Dallas Police Sr. Cpl. Lorne Ahren, Sgt. Michael Smith and Officer Michael Krol and Patrick Zamarripa.

For more information about any of the events visit www.weekendofhonor.com or www.tribute77.org

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