El Centro College unveils installation honoring July 7 ambush fallen officers

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El Centro College's Downtown Dallas campus unveiled an artwork piece on Wednesday to honor the five officers who were shot and killed in the July 7, 2016, ambush.

The campus wanted to show it's moving forward while also never forgetting what happened on July 7.

The same doors the shooter ran through while trying to get away from police on that night more than three years ago are now marked with a thin blue line of light to remember the officers who gave their all.

A plaque is marked with the names of the injured and fallen officers lost on July 7, 2016.

“This is now a part of the 53-year history of El Centro College,” said El Centro College President Dr. Jose Adames. “We’ll always carry that with us.”

The plaque is near where shooter Micah Johnson staged his ambush. DART Officer Brent Thompson fired back. He was fatally shot in return.

“I can tell you this honestly and truly: If it were not for DART Officer Brent Thompson, the shooter had our officers pinned down and would’ve killed more Dallas police officers,” said Dallas Police Deputy Chief Albert Martinez. “Brent Thompson took action. And for that, we’re always grateful to DART for what he did.”

Johnson ran to the college’s Lamar Street entrance and shot through the glass trying to get in. In the process, he injured two El Centro officers: sergeants Bryan Shaw and John Abbott.

“This memorial honors their sacrifice and reminds us not to let their sacrifice be in vain,” said DCCCD Assistant Police Chief Herbert Ashford.

The plaque and thin blue line of lights mark where the shooter ran through the college’s Elm Street entrance up the stairs into the second floor library, where he aimed at officers below through the windows. He barricaded himself inside the college for hours before then-DPD Chief David Brown made the historic decision to use a robot strapped with explosives to end the standoff.

When it was all over, five officers were gone.

“I wish he was here with me. I wish he was still with us. That's all I think,” said Rick Zamarripa, the father of Patrick Zamarripa. “If I could give everything back that ever happened to me over the last three years, I’d do it just to have him here.”

In 2016 when FOX 4 cameras walked through the scene, the rooms where it all happened were destroyed. Now, it’s new classrooms and office space.

“We redesigned the space so you wouldn’t know that was the location,” Adames said. “Because we wanted this to be a part of our history, but we don’t want people coming by and thinking that’s where this tragedy occurred.”

“Because we’re one Dallas,” Martinez said. “We are one Dallas yesterday. We are one Dallas today. We are one Dallas tomorrow.”

The installation was paid for by funds from El Centro along with a grant from Downtown Dallas Inc.

College officials say they plan to take it with them when the campus moves to a new location in a few years so they can always remember and honor that night.