Law enforcement officers from the small communities in Grayson County and the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office gathered on the overpass just north of the Grayson County line in Van Alstyne last Friday to remember the police officers who died on July 7, 2016 in an ambush in Dallas.
Van Alstyne Police Chief Tim Barnes said the gathering at the county line was thrown together on the phone after he got the message from Governor Gregg Abbott for all law enforcement in the state to turn on their red and blue lights for one minute on Friday at 10 a.m.
“We are just here to honor the officers down in Dallas, and really all of the officers that have perished in the line of duty,” Barnes said just before the group including officers from Howe, Tom Bean, Van Alstyne, Anna, Gunter, and the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office, lined up on the overpass at the Grayson County Line. Firefighters from Gunter and Van Alstyne also took part in the observance.
He said he didn’t know how many officers would be there Friday but he appreciated everyone who took the time to show up and help to honor those fallen officers.
One of the local officers on the overpass Friday was also in Dallas when Micah Xavier Johnson fired upon a group of police officers. Johnson killed five officers and injured nine others and was eventually making his way to a building on the campus of El Centro College where police found him. A standoff ensued and police used a remote control robot to detonate a bomb which killed Johnson.
Tom Bean police officer Zachary Smith was actually in Dallas at the corner of Market and Pacific Streets eating with an El Centro officer when the shooting started. Smith was one of the officers who marked the anniversary on the overpass above U.S. Highway 75 and said he will never forget that day.
“It’s very important that we show that we all stand together and that everyone’s lives matter,” said Smith.
He said doing so sets a unified front and shows that police officers are there to serve everyone. He said was eating dinner in a restaurant when he heard what was happening and he thought it was awful.
“It’s something that I knew would happen eventually, but it’s not something that I thought would happen as close to home,” he added.
He said his heart goes out to the families of the fallen officers and to the police department that they served.
“I pray for peace them and comfort and I hope that they know that they are always part of our family,” he said.