WFAA cameras captured the harrowing scene Thursday night in downtown Dallas when the first shots were fired after the police protest. WFAA Channel 8
WFAA cameras captured the harrowing scene Thursday night in downtown Dallas when the first shots were fired after the police protest. WFAA Channel 8

Fort Worth

One of officers killed in Dallas ambush had Fort Worth roots

July 08, 2016 11:11 AM

FORT WORTH

Rick Zamarripa knew his son was on bicycle patrol during Thursday’s Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Dallas.

When news about shots being fired began to unfold on social media and TV, the father sent Patrick Zamarripa, a Fort Worth native, a text message.

“There was breaking news that police officers got shot,” the father said. “I texted him and said, ‘Patrick, are you OK?’ 

The text was not answered.

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Rick Zamarripa learned later that his son — who had survived three tours of duty in Iraq — was dead, one of five police officers gunned down by a lone sniper during an ambush in downtown Dallas.

Rick Zamarripa had raced from his home in Saginaw to Parkland Hospital, but arrived after his son had died, about 9:15 p.m.

Many of Zamarripa’s friends — from Fort Worth, Oklahoma and Iowa to Hawaii — woke up Friday to text messages informing them of his death.

Zamarripa was 32 and had a 2-year-old daughter.

‘The most patriotic man’

Growing up, Zamarripa always had a smile on his face, said family and friends.

Uncle Fernando Zamarripa said his nephew was respectful, and never mischievous. He also showed interest in the military and saw Fernando Zamarripa, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, as a role model.

“I was his hero and then he went into the military … he was my hero,” said Fernando Zamarripa. “We were always calling each other heroes.”

Fernando Zamarripa, a teacher in Sayre, Okla., said his nephew, a Navy veteran, survived three tours in Iraq. He served during Operation Iraqi Freedom starting in 2003, the uncle said. He didn’t talk much about his experience in Iraq.

Fernando Zamarripa said the image of his nephew in a police uniform is ingrained in his heart and mind.

“This was the most patriotic man you will ever, ever meet,” he said.

During Friday morning services at All Saints Catholic Church on Fort Worth’s north side, prayers were extended to family and to the city of Dallas. Patrick Zamarripa’s grandparents and family have often attended that church, said the Rev. Stephen Jasso.

“Everybody is saddened by all of this,” Jasso said. “This is a terrible situation that happened to Dallas. … We know that violence shouldn’t have a place in our communities, We have compassion for our brothers in Dallas.”

The Fort Worth school district posted a message on its Facebook page about his death, and news of Zamarripa’s death was shared by alumni groups from Paschal and Trimble Tech high schools on social media. People touched by his death shared pictures and messages about his courage via Twitter.

“They got the wrong man,” said Amy (Pantoja) Goldsberry, who attended Paschal with Zamarripa. “He is not hate. He is like everything that is great. He loved his country. He loved being an American. He loved being a Rangers fan. … He’s the one who wants to take care of those people.”

Goldsberry said that after the Orlando massacre, Zamarripa showed his compassion for others with a comment posted on social media: “This is work, but we are Orlando strong.”

“It’s a shock to everybody because Patrick is such a nice human,” Goldsberry said. “… It is so heartbreaking.”

‘Always a Paschal Panther’

Goldsberry, who lives in Iowa, was a year older than Zamarripa when they played in the Paschal marching band. He was a trumpet player and sometimes relied on Goldsberry for a ride home after Paschal football games.

Others in the Paschal extended family mourned too.

“The Paschal community is heartbroken,” said Principal Terri Mossige, who received numerous calls from people about Patrick Zamarripa. “Once a Paschal Panther, always a Paschal Panther.”

Happy Birthday to the greatest country on the face of this planet. My beloved America!

— Patrick Zamarripa (@PatrickEZ01) July 5, 2016

Mossige said teachers and educators were sending their condolences to the Zamarripa family, which has long ties to Paschal. The school community is in talks about how to show their support for the family in coming days.

History teacher Patti Sikes said in a statement that Zamarripa had a “winsome smile” and an outgoing personality.

“He came from a wonderful family who bled purple,” Sikes said. “His mother was a security monitor, his sister was a mascot and he was a baseball player.”

Zamarripa, a huge Texas Rangers fan, played third and second base for the Panthers.

Stephen Smith, former Paschal Panthers baseball coach, remembered the fallen officer as a “supporter of all things Paschal.” As an adult, Zamarripa played at Paschal’s alumni game several times, Smith said.

“He was a great kid, but a better adult,” Smith said. “When I saw him a few years ago, he was working as a police officer and was being a great dad and husband. I have great memories of him, but I am proud of the citizen and father he became.”

Bagpiper plays after Moment of Silence in Burnett Park

A bagpiper plays "Amazing Grace" at the end of a gathering in Burnett Park in downtown Fort Worth for a moment of silence and reflection on the officers killed in Dallas Thursday night.

Tom Uhler uhler@star-telegram.com

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