Dallas Police mark 7 years since deadly ambush Downtown

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Friday marks seven years since the deadly ambush in downtown Dallas that left five police officers dead.

The officers who were killed were Brent Thompson of Dallas Area Rapid Transit police, and four officers from the Dallas Police Department - Michael Krol, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith and Patrick Zamarripa.

A peaceful demonstration was winding down on July 7, 2016, when an armed gunman got out of his SUV and began to open fire on uniformed police officers.

Five officers were killed while nine other officers and two civilians were injured in the attack.

Dallas police joined the father of fallen officer Patrick Zamarripa at Dallas College's El Centro campus this morning to mark the somber day.

The ceremony organized by Rick Zamarripa and attended by DPD's top brass, including Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia, was noticeably more low-key than previous events held at Dallas City Hall.

Retired state police commissioner Rob Kyker spoke during the ceremony.

"We will never forget," said Kyker. "Rick [Zamarripa] and all the other families, we will always remember."

Kyker also acknowledged the selfless action of retired DART driver Donald Washington.

"You know what he did," Kyker asked the crowd. "He rescued those, he came over here in the line of fire and he rescued as many as he could get on that bus."

As Washington received a round of applause, he walked over to face a window, he later said to hide his tears.

Washington tells NBC 5 this was his first time stepping foot back on campus since that fateful day.

"I wasn't quite ready for it. I wasn't quite ready. I didn't think I could actually be in the same spot, same location as seven years ago," he said.

DART police officer Brent Thompson, he says, always had his back when confronted with rowdy passengers.

"Whatever Brent Thompson said to that guy, he straightened up his act because I had no more problems with him," recalled Washington. "[Thompson] was the guy I really miss. I wear his band right here on my shoulder."

Chief Garcia was a police officer in San Jose, California, at the time of the ambush.

But he remembers watching the heart-wrenching images on tv.

"There's no other chief, no other law enforcement officer in this country that wasn't affected," said Garcia. "The day you land here, you feel it."

Garcia says DPD will always find a way to commemorate 7/7 while remembering fallen officers that have since passed in the line of duty.

"The dangers that officers face on a daily basis, I'm not sure people truly grasp because this was the most devastating day for us losing four officers in Dallas and one brother from DART, but officers put themselves in harm's way every day," he said.

While most of the victims' families have opted to mourn in private, Zamarripa's family has remained vocal.

Rick Zamarripa told the crowd about how a young Patrick growing up in Fort Worth told him he was going to be a police officer when he grew up.

"I can't forget. I can't," he said. "I won't. That's why I want to make sure everybody remembers what these officers gave."

DPD is holding private gatherings with the families of the fallen officers Friday evening.

Patrick's mother, Valerie Zamarripa, will join DPD to commemorate the day.

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