5 Police, 5 Black men killed. Family and friends are devastated.

Lorne AhrensLorne Ahrens, 48

DALLAS, TX (Dallas Morning News), July 8, 2016 — (Senior Corporal) Ahrens had been with the Dallas Police Department since January 2002, according to department records. “He was always one of the happy ones, with a smile on his face,” said a fellow officer who often saw him around the department’s Central station.

Steven Stribley, a Dallas patrol officer and a state Fraternal Order of Police vice president, said Ahrens was “an incredible loving and devoted husband and father. Greatly respected veteran of the department.” The 48-year-old officer was married to Detective Katrina Ahrens from the crimes against persons division. The couple lived in Burleson with their two children: 10-year-old Sorcha and 8-year-old Magnus.

With a shaved head and a frame exceeding 6 feet tall, Ahrens boasted the physique of a football player. But when it came to his kids, he’d crouch to their level. He took them fishing and played with them in the park. “He enjoyed it as much as they did,” Buckingham said. (Karen Buckingham, Ahrens’ mother-in-law)

The officer volunteered to go down to his children’s school when teachers needed someone to come talk to their classes, Buckingham said. He became so popular that the school asked him to come back several times, she said. Ahrens always wore his uniform when he visited the school so the kids could see him in blue.


Philando Castile, 32

Philando Castilo

ST. PAUL, MN (WCCO), July 7, 2016 — Philando’s sister, Allysza, describes her brother as kind, loving and humble, someone who loved to go to work. She says his job at J.J. Hill School was more than just a paycheck, it was a calling. “Wasn’t in no gang activity. He wasn’t no criminal. My baby was a good man, a good hard-working man,” she said.

His mother, Valerie, says her son was given awards for perfect attendance. She was proud of the man he was. “He did everything he was supposed to do as far as being a law abiding citizen. He worked every day,” Valerie said.

“A man of few words but a really gentle soul,” Kathy Holmquist-Burks said. (She) hired Castile years ago and promoted him to supervisor. “He was always happy, smiled, he waved he came in the office often almost every day to say hello,” Holmquist-Burks said.

Burks says Phil was a perfect gentleman. She says the St. Paul Central High School class of 2001 graduate had a love for life and people. He always wanted to help make others better. “He was not a person with attitude. He was not a person who was harsh, negative, as far as I know he had no involvement with anything negative,” Holmquist-Burks said.

That’s why his death is hard for many to take. Burks says Phil was so full of promise, but was taken away from the world before he had a chance to really hit his stride.

Philando loved his family and spending time with them was important to him. The night he was killed, he had just left his mom’s house, dropping off food for her and his sister. Many who knew him say Philando was someone you wanted your kids to look up to.


Eric Garner, 43Eric Garner

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (Staten Island Advance) , July 18, 2014 — “He was a great dad — he’s just a warm guy,” said Jewel Miller, the mother of Garner’s newborn daughter. Ms. Miller said she and Garner are separated, but he remained a loving father to his 3-month-old baby, Legacy Garner, who was born prematurely. “He was so proud of his daughter — she’s his miracle,” Ms. Miller said.

“Everybody that knows him will tell you that he’s a wonderful person,” said Charlene Thomas, 64, who knew the victim from when she worked in a deli a few stores down from where Thursday’s incident occurred. “I would hug him every day. He was like a big teddy bear,” she said.

Public records show Garner was out on $4,000 bond or $2,000 cash bail — he has three pending criminal cases against him, all involving charges of possession and sale of untaxed cigarettes, from arrests in May, March and last August. In the August case, police also charged him with aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, false personation and marijuana possession.

The Rev. Lloyd Land, of the First United Christian Church, described Garner as a “gentle giant” and said his death makes no sense. “This guy was nobody’s drug dealer. He doesn’t drink liquor. He doesn’t do drugs. What he does is he sells cigarettes,” Rev. Land said. “He sells cigarettes, 50 cents a piece. That’s how he makes a living.” He added, “He was a gentle giant. Insofar as violence, I don’t believe if you smack him in the face he would hit you back … The police have no reason to attack him.”

A father of six children, Ms. Miller said that Garner was always willing to go out of his way for other people, despite his chronic health problems such as asthma and narcolepsy.  “You can ask him for anything — he helped so many people in so many different ways,” she said. Adding, “I lost my best friend.”


Freddie_GrayFreddie Gray, 25

BALTIMORE, MD (CNN),  May 2, 2015 — Before the world heard his name chanted in the streets, before his cries echoed across televisions and sparked protests in Baltimore, Freddie Gray was struggling to make a life for himself.  The 25-year-old lived in a red brick row house with a white metal bar in the Gilmor Homes neighborhood. Neighbors say he was friendly and there were no signs of his long rap sheet.

“He was so funny. Any time you’re looking for a laugh, you’re going straight to Freddie,” Raheem Gaither told The Baltimore Sun. “We’re all from the same neighborhood. All of us here are family.” Gray loved football and had always wanted to play tight end but was too small, his friend William Stewart said. “He could have been a comedian, for real, but nah. Now look at him,” Gaither said.

Gray had been in and out of prison since 2009 for various drug cases, said Maryland Department of Corrections spokesman Gerard Shields. In February 2009, he was sentenced to four years in prison for two counts of drug possession with intent to deliver. Shields said he could not determine from records what kind of drug was involved. Gray was paroled in 2011 and went back to prison again two years later for drug possession. After serving a month, he was released in June 2013.

His brother-in-law, Juan Grant, said drugs helped Gray support his family. “When people come to buy narcotics or gamble or anything and they put their money in your hand, what makes you so bad?” Grant asked. “He had responsibilities. Responsibilities don’t stop because you don’t have a job.”

As a child, Gray’s life was marked with financial hardship from the beginning. His mother and stepfather raised him and his siblings in a home so squalid, they won a settlement from the landlord over lead paint exposure, The Baltimore Sun reported. Gray and his sisters had damaging levels of lead in their blood, leading to myriad educational and medical issues, the paper reported. During a 2009 deposition, the newspaper reported, Gray’s mother was questioned and reportedly said that she couldn’t read, had never been to high school and had a daily heroin habit, but that she stopped using it after she entered treatment.


Michael KrolMichael Krol, 40

DALLAS, TX (Dallas Morning News), July 8, 2016 — Krol had always wanted to be a police officer, but he had to work for it, said his brother-in-law, Brian Schoenbaechler of Atlanta. Krol graduated from Massachusetts’ East Longmeadow High School, where he played basketball and football. At nearly 6-foot-4, Krol towered over most people. But Schoenbaechler called him “a big gentle giant who had a heart for serving others.”

His family moved back to Michigan, where he started working temporary security at a hospital. In 2003 he was hired as a jailer at the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office in Detroit. Four years later, he itched to follow his dream. Police departments in the Detroit area weren’t hiring, but Dallas was. So he said goodbye to his family and headed south. The Dallas department hired Krol in September 2007. Seven months later, his parents, two sisters and brother all traveled to Dallas to share their pride in Krol’s graduation from the police academy.

A Detroit Pistons fan, Krol loved sports. His brother-in-law also described him as a quiet guy. “He didn’t say much, but when he did, it was something funny,” Schoenbaechler said. He loved to tell stories about all the crazy things he saw on the job. But make no mistake, “he was very proud to be a police officer,” Schoenbaechler said.

Krol’s uncle Jim Ehlke told a media outlet in Michigan that being a police officer was always Krol’s dream. “He got into law enforcement and worked really hard to be a police officer. He spent some time at the correctional facility. It wasn’t quite what he was looking for, so he worked pretty hard to find a job and got one in Dallas,” Ehlke said. “He was all in, he was all in.”

Ehlke said his nephew’s passion was helping people.


Walter-ScottWalter Scott, 50

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP), April 9, 2015 — Walter L. Scott, a 50-year-old black man, was fatally shot Saturday. He was initially pulled over because his brake light was out. Scott had four children, was engaged and had been honorably discharged from the U.S. Coast Guard.

He had had been jailed three times for failure to pay child support, court records show. In late 2008, he was jailed for six months over $6,800 in back child support. In 2011, he spent a night in jail when he was $7,500 behind. And in 2012, he spent another night in jail when he owed $3,500. Scott may have tried to run from the officer because he owed child support again and didn’t want to go back to jail, his father and a family attorney said. There were also traffic tickets but no violent offenses on his record.

Scott had been in a relationship with the mother of a player on the University of Mississippi football team, according to a statement from coach Hugh Freeze. For junior Fadol Brown, Scott “served as a father figure” for years, the coach said.


Michael Smith, 55Michael Smith

DALLAS, TX (Dallas Morning News), July 8, 2016 — A veteran officer, Sgt. Michael Smith was known as conscientious and professional, an officer who cared so deeply that he would even dip into his own pocket to pay for his training if needed. He consistently received outstanding performance awards, including a “Cops’ Cop” award from the Dallas Police Association.

Smith, a Port Arthur (TX) native, earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Lamar University in 1989. He joined the Dallas Police Department that same year. His wife teaches at Mary Immaculate in Farmers Branch.

Married almost 20 years, with two children in their young teens, Smith wasn’t ready to retire. In addition to his nearly three decades of service with the Dallas police department, Smith was a seven-year Army veteran. “He loved his job and the guys on the force, and he loved his wife and kids,” said Vanessa Smith.  “He was a very sweet family man, always outside playing softball with his girls,” Kayla said (a resident of the couple’s Carrollton neighborhood). “We’re a close neighborhood.”

Smith was a member of the Watermark Community Church in Dallas. Senior pastor Todd Wagner said that Smith understood that loving people was the best way to protect and serve them. “It genuinely troubled him when he saw people treated as objects or when protocol got in the way of personal care,” Wagner said in a statement. “He never compromised his responsibilities, but he never walked away from a compassionate response.”


Alton Sterling, 37

Alton Sterling

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB), July 6, 2016 — According to the East Baton Rouge Coroner, a Baton Rouge man was shot multiple time in the back and chest by a Baton Rouge Police officer.

A woman claiming to be Sterling’s mother said he is a convicted felon who was recently released from jail on parole. Sterling’s sister, Mignon Chambers, wants more answers from police. “I really wanna know more about what happened, about the whole situation, because my brother didn’t deserve it. He didn’t deserve it at all,” Chambers said. Chambers said Sterling has been selling CDs outside the store for years, adding that Sterling is a father of five.


BATON ROUGE, LA (CBS News), July 6, 2016 — “The individuals involved in his murder took away a man with children who depend upon their daddy on a daily basis,” Quinyetta McMillon said. “As some may know, Alton sold CDs, and was doing just that, not bothering anyone. And had the consent of the store owners as well,” McMillon said.


BATON ROUGE, LA (Sinclair Broadcast Group), July 6, 2016 — Arthur Baines came by to pay his respects. He said Sterling had stayed with his sister at some point. “He never bothered nobody. He was just trying to make an honest dollar,” Baines said. He said he thought Sterling was out late on July 4th because more people were out on the holiday: “That’s really how he made all of his money,”

Mufleh Alatiyat, a 25-year old employee of the store described Sterling as generous and said he often gave away CDs or petty cash or bought food or drink for some people. “He was a very nice guy,” he said. “He helped a lot of people.”


Brent ThompsonBrent Thompson, 43

DALLAS, TX (CNN), July 9, 2016 — “Brent was a great officer,” said James Spiller, police chief of DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit authority). “He was an outstanding patrol officer as well as a rail officer. We have the highest respect for him.” . . . .

Thompson, 43, a nearly seven-year veteran of the transit force, got married in the last two weeks, Spiller said. His spouse was a fellow transit officer. “He was in great spirits from his recent marriage,” Spiller said.

According to Thompson’s LinkedIn profile, he was “motivated by a ” ‘Team’ atmosphere.” “I enjoy working on challenging tasks and problem solving with my peers. I am constantly looking for different ways to serve the department, this helps to keep my work from becoming sedentary and boring,” the officer said in his LinkedIn summary.

Thompson was an international police liaison officer for DynCorp International for nearly five years, starting in 2004, his profile said. “My last position as an IPLO was Chief of Operations for Southern Iraq. I was responsible for the day to day operations conducted by our American police officers who trained and mentored the Iraqi Police,” he said on his profile.

He was in southern Afghanistan as well, according to the profile, where he was a “Team Leader” and “Lead Mentor” to the “Southern Provincial Police Chief.” “In all locations we mentored and taught our Iraqi/Afghan counterparts democratic policing, and assisted in the establishment of the police department in these locations.”

According to his LinkedIn profile, Thompson lived in Carrollton, Texas. Spiller said Thompson hailed from Corsicana, Texas, south of Dallas. According to his LinkedIn profile, Thompson attended high school there and taught at Navarro College Police Academy, also in Corsicana.


Patrick Zamarripa, 32Patrick Zamarripa Twitter

DALLAS, TX (Dallas Morning News), July 8, 2016 — Patrick Zamarripa dreamed of becoming a police officer as a young boy, aunt Lanette Martinez said. She described him a good kid who played baseball and served as an altar boy at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Fort Worth. “He was always active in something,” Martinez said.

While at Paschal High School, Zamarripa played baseball. He enlisted in the Navy after graduating in 2001. That didn’t surprise his father. The officer and his older sister liked dressing up as sailors when they were children. She also joined the Navy. Zamarripa worked in the Navy for eight years and served several tours in Iraq, his family said. The officer was also active in the Navy Reserve, Martinez said.

“He wanted to serve God,” Martinez said, “and he wanted to serve his country.”

Zamarripa was featured in a 2004 Dallas Morning News story about U.S., British and Australian soldiers protecting Iraq’s rusted oil platforms in the Persian Gulf. The sailors lived for weeks at a time aboard the platforms, keeping a lookout over the water. The Navy commandos — armed with .50-caliber machine guns, grenade launchers and infrared scopes — boarded suspicious crafts off the coast of the Al Faw peninsula. “We’re protecting the backbone of Iraq,” said Zamarripa, then a petty officer second class, as he studied the horizon. “A terrorist attack here would send the country down the drain.”

On July 4, Zamarripa wrote on Twitter: “Happy birthday to the greatest country on the face of this planet. My beloved America!”

His Twitter bio proclaimed him as “addicted to the thrill of this job.” He was also addicted to the Texas Rangers. He strapped his little daughter, Lyncoln, to his chest and went to the ballpark with her. He took his stepson, Dylan, to baseball camp. Zamarripa was el consentido — the favorite — among the boys in the family, his aunt said.



Published by

Harry Schwarz

Nicknamed “The Professor” by his colleagues, Harry is a native Marylander who moved to Columbia in 2001. Harry’s wife, Cathy, is a Columbia acupuncturist and the family includes two college-age children, a dog and a cat. Harry is a partner with BearsolutionsLLC, assisting charter school authorizers to provide effective financial oversight. He is underemployed at this time and welcomes conversation about how he might help you.

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