officer

El Centro Officers Speak About Deadly Ambush

Two El Centro police officers who survived the deadly ambush talked about the chaos for the first time in interviews with NBC News.

Cpl. Bryan Shaw and Officer John Abbott were working inside El Centro College when the initial gunshots rang out Thursday night.

The officers ran to the Lamar Street entrance just as the gunman, 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson, opened fire on the locked doors trying to shoot his way in.

Shaw was shot on his left side, but he went back inside with another officer to grab tactical gear and assault rifles.

Shattered glass pierced Abbott’s legs and arms. After treating himself, he made his way outside, found a wounded officer lying in the street and pulled him out of the line of fire.

"Turns out it was DART Officer Brent Thompson, who was a friend of mine," Abbott said. "I tried to perform any medical aid that I could on him but at that point he was pretty much gone.”

Shaw heard gunfire coming from the Elm Street side of the building and made his way toward a stairwell where he noticed a trail of blood. The gunman then opened fire on Shaw from above, but missed.

Shaw said he wanted to fire back, but couldn't see the gunman’s position. Shaw held his position as Dallas police moved through the building and stayed there — injured — until the ordeal was over.

"God protected all of us, because if you go back to where I was in an area about 3 feet wide and he shot seven to eight times,” Shaw said. “I barely got grazed. I mean if God hadn’t been watching over me, I wouldn’t be here.”

The officers said they're only now are they able to look back and see how their engagement with the gunman may have forced him to change positions.

“That’s our hope, that we caused him to change where he was going and were able to save other officers,” Shaw said. “That’s what I hope that we were able to do by getting to the Lamar side entrance and him firing on us. It took his attention off of someone else.”

Both officers said they had no reservations about returning to work.

“I don’t think it’s going to change anything,” Shaw said. “I did my job the way I was supposed to do it and I’m going to continue to do my job.”

“It’s another bit of experience to have in your tool belt, as they say,” Abbott said. “Every incident that you go through is something that makes it safer for you later hopefully.”

Contact Us