North Texas 7-Eleven stores donate to Dallas officers

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In the wake of the deadly ambush on Dallas police, owners of North Texas 7-Eleven stores are showing their support for officers with a donation.

Since July 7, the Assist the Officer Foundation has been flooded with donations wanting to show support for Dallas police. But Wednesday’s donation from 7-Eleven stores had a special meaning behind it. It was to thank the officers who stood watch over a downtown store that night.

Bekele Tilahun was working at his store in downtown Dallas on July 7 when chaos broke out.

“There was a lot of people outside the store,” the store owner recalled. “There was a little bit of looting going on. They took some wine, some beer.”

The crowd at Tilahun's 24-hour 7-Eleven store got so large, he was forced to shut down the store for safety.

“A lot of people panicked,” Tilahun said. A lot of drunk people. A lot of scared people.”

The store owner and his employees left. But Dallas police stood at guard in a line in front of the store for much of the night. They stood at guard even as the crowd yelled at them and even though they didn't know if their fellow officers were alright.

"We understand, and it's just the way we work,” said Dallas Police Deputy Chief John Lawton. “Regardless of personal pressures that we weigh or things we're experiencing, we're going to continue to do our job.”

As a token of thanks, Dallas 7-Eleven stores donated $10,000 to the Assist the Officer Foundation.

“This is uncharted waters for us,” said Steve Brody, director of the foundation, as he described the immense support they’ve received from all over the world. “ATO has been in existence for 17 years. We've never had an event like this.”

And though officers say they were just doing their job, Tilahun said it’s a service he'll never forget.

“They still did their job. Even though they knew their friends are fallen, they still did the job. It's amazing,” Tilahun said. “Anytime something happens, they're here with us every day.  We feel that very much. They're family to us.”