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Dallas officers shot to death include newlywed, Iraq veteran

Last Updated Jul 9, 2016 9:35 AM EDT

One was a newlywed. Another had survived multiple tours in Iraq. Four were fathers.

The stories of the officers gunned down in a sniper attack in Dallas during a protest over recent police shootings of black men emerged Friday as their identities became known. Authorities say five officers were killed and at least seven others wounded in the deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Brent Thompson

Brent Thompson, 43, had worked as an officer with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit authority for the last seven years. There he found love, marrying another transit officer within the last two weeks, according to DART Chief James Spiller.

"Brent was a great officer," Spiller told MSNBC early Friday. "He has served admirably during his time here at DART."

Thompson had six grown children from a previous marriage and had recently welcomed his third grandchild, according to Tara Thornton, a close friend of Thompson's 22-year-old daughter, Lizzie. Thornton said Thompson and his close-knit family would often get together and have classic rock singalongs, with Thornton and his son, Jake, playing guitar. He lived an hour's drive south of Dallas, in Corsicana.

"He was a brave man dedicated to his family," said Thornton. "He loved being a police officer. He instantly knew that's what he wanted to do. He knew he wanted to save lives and protect people. He had a passion for it."

On Thursday, he became the first DART officer killed in the line of duty since the agency's police force was founded in 1989, according to spokesman Morgan Lyons.

Before joining the DART force, Thompson worked from 2004 to 2008 for DynCorp International, a private military contractor. According to Thompson's LinkedIn page, he worked as an international police liaison officer, helping teach and mentor Iraqi police. Thompson's last position was as the company's chief of operations for southern Iraq, where he helped train teams covering Baghdad to the southern border with Kuwait. He also worked in northern Iraq and in Afghanistan, where he was a team leader and lead mentor to a southern provincial police chief.

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our alumni," said Mary Lawrence, a spokeswoman for Virginia-based DynCorp. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this most difficult time."

Patrick Zamarripa

Patrick Zamarripa had an urge to serve -- first in the Navy, where his family said he did three tours in Iraq, then back home in Texas as a Dallas police officer.

"Patrick would bend over backward to help anybody. He'd give you his last dollar if he had it. He was always trying to help people, protect people," his father, Rick Zamarripa, told The Associated Press by phone Friday. "As tough as he was, he was patient, very giving."

Zamarripa, who would have turned 33 next month, was married with a toddler and school-age stepchild. He joined the Navy shortly after high school in Fort Worth, serving eight years on active duty and then in the reserves, according to the Navy. The Navy doesn't release deployment details, but a Dallas Morning News reporter encountered Zamarripa in 2004 as he helped guard one of the offshore oil platforms that help fuel Iraq's post-war economic rebuilding.

"We're protecting the backbone of Iraq," Zamarripa, a petty officer who also used the first name Patricio, told the newspaper. "A terrorist attack here would send the country down the drain."

After doing security work in the Navy, a police career seemed a natural fit once he returned to Texas in 2009. Zamarripa joined the Dallas force about five years ago and recently was assigned to downtown bicycle patrols, his father said.

Zamarripa realized policing was a dangerous job. His father recently put him in touch with an in-law who works elsewhere in government, hoping his son might leave the force.

"'No, I want to stay here,'" he said, according to his father. "'I like the action.'"

Rick Zamarripa knew his son was assigned to patrol Thursday's demonstrations, so when he saw news of the shooting on TV, he texted his son to make sure he was all right. The father did that whenever he heard officers were in danger. Typically, his son would text back quickly to say he was fine and would call back later.

This time, no reply came.

"He went over there (to Iraq) and didn't get hurt at all, and he comes back to the states and gets killed," his father said.

Zamarripa is survived by his wife, Kristy Villasenor, whom he'd known since high school; their 2-year-old daughter, Lyncoln, and a 10-year-old stepson.

Michael Krol

Michael Krol, 40, was a caring person and had always wanted to help others, his mother said Friday.

"He knew the danger of the job but he never shied away from his duty as a police officer. He was a great caring person and wanted to help people. A wonderful son, brother, uncle, nephew and friend," said Susan Ehlke, from Redford, Michigan, in a prepared statement.

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Michael Krol is pictured in a handout photo.

Wayne County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS

Krol's family said in a statement that he moved to Dallas to become a police officer in 2007 because Detroit wasn't hiring. He was a deputy at the Wayne County jail before the move.

Meanwhile, family members told the Detroit Free Press that Krol was single with no children, but had a girlfriend in Dallas. He graduated from the Dallas Police Academy in 2008.

"He was a guy that was serving others," said Brian Schoenbaechler, Krol's brother-in-law. "And he gave his life in service of others."

Michael Smith

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An undated photo shows Dallas Police Sgt. Michael Smith.

Todd Wagner via Twitter

Sgt. Michael Smith, 55, had received the "Cops' Cop" award from the Dallas Police Association, according to the Dallas Morning News.

CBS Dallas-Fort Worth reported Smith served as an Army Ranger and went on to attend the Lamar Institute of Technology. He leaves behind his wife of 17 years, and their two daughters, age 14 and 10.

Lorne Ahrens

The fifth officer was identified by the Dallas Morning News as Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, a 48-year-old father of two girls and the husband of a Dallas police detective.

Ahrens was "an incredible loving and devoted husband and father. Greatly respected veteran of the department," Steve Stribley, a state Fraternal Order of Police vice president and Dallas patrol officer, told the newspaper.

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Dallas Police Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens.

CBS Los Angeles

Ahrens, a 14-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, was a law-enforcement technician in Los Angeles from 1991-2002.

His father William Ahrens, who lives in Alaska, spoke with CBS Los Angeles via Skype and said his son died doing what he loved.

"It really hasn't hit yet," the elder Ahrens said. "The magnitude of it hasn't hit yet."

Ahrens grew up in Canoga Park. He moved to Dallas to become a police officer, a dream come true. But his true love was his family.

"The pinnacle of his life was his children," his father said. "He was a big strong guy ... rough and tough, amateur boxer. He would get into fisticuffs - was fearless. But that same guy would have tea with his daughter."

"Lorne was a big guy with an even bigger heart," Sheriff's Department Capt. Merrill Ladenheim said Friday.

"He will be sorely missed by the LASD family, said Sgt. Bob Boese in a Sheriff's Department news release. "Our thoughts and our prayers go out to Lorne's family and all the men and women of the Dallas Police Department, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Police and the great state of Texas."