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Thousands gather to mourn, honor 3 slain officers in Dallas

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    An honor guard stood watch over the casket of Dallas Police Sr. Cpl. Lorne Ahrens during his funeral service at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas today. Ahrens and four other officers were slain by a sniper during a protest last week in downtown Dallas.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Law enforcement officers joined hands during the funeral services for Dallas Police Sr. Cpl. Lorne Ahrens at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas today. Ahrens and four other officers were slain by a sniper during a protest last week in downtown Dallas.

DALLAS » Nearly a week after five officers were killed by a gunman in Dallas, memorial services for three of them drew thousands of mourners today.

Services were held for Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer Brent Thompson, Dallas police Sgt. Michael Smith and Dallas police Sr. Cpl. Lorne Ahrens — all three slain in downtown Dallas Thursday by a sniper during a march to protest recent fatal shootings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana by police. The two other services are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

The service for Thompson, 43, drew hundreds of law enforcement officers in crisp formal uniforms to The Potter’s House, the Dallas megachurch headed by celebrity Bishop T.D. Jakes.

Thompson’s wife Emily, a fellow DART officer whom he had recently married, told the audience that the shooter, Micah Johnson, was a coward. “You know your hate made us stronger,” she said, speaking of Johnson.

Johnson, 25, was killed when authorities used a robot to detonate an explosive as negotiations faltered. Nine officers and two civilians were injured in the attack.

A funeral service for Thompson was scheduled for later today in Corsicana, south of Dallas. He is the first DART officer killed in the line of duty since the agency’s police force was founded in 1989.

Also today, a few hundred mourners gathered for a Catholic funeral service in the suburb of Farmers Branch for Smith, a former U.S. Army Ranger known for his upbeat attitude and compassionate approach to others.

Smith joined the Dallas police force in 1989. He once received a “Cops’ Cop” award from the Dallas Police Association.

A public service was scheduled Thursday for Smith at a Dallas church where he worked security.

In the Dallas suburb of Plano, mourners were told of Ahrens’ work with the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department and time as semipro football player before moving to Texas and joining the Dallas police force. The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Ahrens was known as a gentle giant and a voracious reader whose intelligence was equal to his size.

Dallas police officer Michael Krol’s funeral is set for Friday, and Dallas police officer Patrick Zamarripa’s funeral will be held Saturday.

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  • “At times, it seems like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates too quickly into de-humanization.
    Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions. And this is. And this has strained our bonds of understanding and common purpose. But Americans, I think, have a great advantage. To renew our unity, we only need to remember our values.
    We have never been held together by blood or background. We are bound by things of the spirit, by shared commitments to common ideals. At our best, we practice empathy, imagining ourselves in the lives and circumstances of others. This is the bridge across our nation’s deepest divisions. And it is not merely a matter of tolerance, but of learning from the struggles and stories of our fellow citizens and finding our better selves in the process. At our best, we honor the image of God we see in one another. We recognize that we are brothers and sisters, sharing the same brief moment on Earth and owing each other the loyalty of our shared humanity. At our best, we know we have one country, one future, one destiny. We do not want the unity of grief, nor do we want the unity of fear. We want the unity of hope, affection and high purpose.”

    Well said Mr. President

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