Police from across the nation attended the funeral Wednesday in Plano for Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, one of five officers killed in ambush last week. pmoseley@star-telegram.com
Police from across the nation attended the funeral Wednesday in Plano for Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, one of five officers killed in ambush last week. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

Fort Worth

Thousands attend funeral of ‘gentle giant’ of Dallas Police Department

By Domingo Ramirez Jr.

ramirez@star-telegram.com

July 13, 2016 01:42 PM

UPDATED July 14, 2016 08:58 AM

PLANO

Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens was a gentle giant on the Dallas police force, a big man who made people laugh, a husband who leaves behind two young children.

“He will be dearly missed,” Dallas officer Eddie Coffey said Wednesday at his friend’s funeral. “I love you, little brother.”

The man who wore Badge No. 8193 was one of the five officers whose families were ripped apart last week in a bloody ambush in downtown Dallas after a peaceful march protesting police killings of civilians.

There were two other services on Wednesday, a public service for DART officer Brent Thompson at The Potter’s House in south Dallas and a private funeral Mass for Dallas police Sgt. Michael Smith.

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At Ahrens’ service, mourners included police officers from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department where Ahrens started his career and from his hometown of Simi Valley, Calif. The crowd filled the 7,000-seat Prestonwood Baptist Church.

The Ahrens family lives in Burleson and attends Pathway Church there. But the service was at the Plano megachurch to accommodate the crowd.

Before the service, officers, family and friends saw a slideshow of Ahrens’ life, photographs of vacations, his family and his work as a Dallas police officer.

Flag raised at Lorne Ahrens' funeral

Firefighters raise the American flag at slain Dallas police Officer Lorne Ahrens' funeral in Plano.

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Coffey and Debbie Taylor, another Dallas officer, fought back tears as they talked about their friend.

He was the big guy — about 6 feet 4 and 300 pounds —who stomped down fences and pulled out burglar bars with his hands.

But he was also the one with a kind heart.

“He was the gentle giant,” Coffey said. “I never thought a corn-fed country boy like myself would be a friend to someone from Los Angeles with tattoos.”

Taylor recalled Ahrens’ sense of humor.

“I cannot remember a time he didn’t make me laugh,” she said.

Ahrens volunteered in uniform at the school his 8-year-old and 10-year-old children attend, said his mother-in-law, Karen Buckingham.

He was born May 9, 1968, in Los Angeles.

The former semi-pro football player became a dispatcher at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in 1991. Former colleagues described him as an excellent dispatcher who always looked out for the patrol deputies.

A lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan, he moved to Dallas in 2002 and joined the Dallas police force that year. He also had applied in Houston, but the Dallas department hired him.

His wife is Dallas police Detective Katrina Ahrens.

Near the end of the service, the Rev. Rick Owen of Pathway Church spoke directly to Ahrens’ family: “Sometimes bad things happen to good people, even when good people are doing the right thing. Your daddy was doing the right thing.

“It shouldn’t have happened. I wish I could give you a perfect answer, I can’t. The Lord has him now.”

After recounting the story of Jesus walking on water toward his disciples in a storm-tossed boat, reassuring them and testing their faith, Owen told the family, “It’s going to be hard, but together you and you and you — you three can rebuild your lives.”

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas Police Chief David Brown attended the service, the first of four this week.

DART officer Brent Thompson

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 Bishop T.D. Jakes. An Arlington police honor guard served as pallbearers, The Dallas Morning News reported.

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

Thompson’s four daughters wore blue bows in their hair and his two sons wore bright blue ties. Daughters Katie and Sandy Thompson said their dad has always been their hero. He juggled two jobs and picked up overtime hours to provide for them, The News reported. When he worked security in some of the most dangerous parts of Iraq and Afghanistan, he missed birthdays, dance recitals and football games, but he always made it home for Christmas, they said.

He was killed about two weeks after his wedding and about two weeks before his 44th birthday. Thompson is the first DART officer killed in the line of duty since the agency’s police force was founded in 1989.

The family had a private service later Wednesday in Corsicana, south of Dallas. He was buried in a cemetery on the family’s farm.

Sgt. Michael Smith

At a private funeral Mass at Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in Farmers Branch, speakers recalled police Sgt. Michael 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.

“He was not a man looking for accolades, praise,” his sister Yea-Mei Sauer said of Smith, who received 86 commendations along with other awards as an officer.

“His legacy, all of this would make him uncomfortable,” she said.

A public service honoring Smith is scheduled Thursday at Watermark Community Church in Dallas where he regularly worked as a security guard.

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

This report includes information from The Dallas Morning News and The Associated Press.

Domingo Ramirez Jr.: 817-390-7763, @mingoramirezjr

Other services

Funerals for the other slain officers:

  • Dallas Sgt. Michael Smith, 12 p.m. Thursday, at Watermark Community Church, 7540 LBJ Freeway, Dallas
  • Dallas officer Michael Krol, 11 a.m. Friday, Prestonwood Baptist Church, 6801 W. Park Blvd., Plano
  • Dallas officer Patrick Zamarripa, 11 a.m. Saturday, Wilkerson-Greines Athletic Complex, 5201 C.A. Roberson Blvd., Fort Worth