DALLAS (CBSNewYork/AP) — Funerals were held for three of the five officers slain by a sniper during a protest last week in downtown Dallas.
Mourners attended the funerals of Dallas Police Sr. Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, Dallas Police Sgt. Michael Smith and Dallas Area Rapid Transit Officer Brent Thompson.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers in crisp formal uniforms gathered at a memorial service for Thomson Wednesday morning at The Potter’s House, a Dallas megachurch headed by celebrity Bishop T.D. Jakes.
As Doug Dunbar — with CBS2’s Dallas station — reported, the NYPD was on hand, as were officers from around the country.
The service featured a montage of photos of the 43-year-old Thompson with family, friends and fellow DART officers. A funeral service for Thompson, a newlywed, was scheduled for later Wednesday in Corsicana, south of Dallas.
Meanwhile, a few hundred mourners also gathered for a private Catholic funeral service for Smith, a former U.S. Army Ranger known for his upbeat attitude and compassionate approach to others.
Smith, his wife and their two daughters were members of Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in Farmers Branch, north of Dallas, where his service was held Wednesday. A public service was scheduled Thursday for Smith at a Dallas church where he worked security.
Smith joined the Dallas police force in 1989. He once received a “Cops’ Cop” award from the Dallas Police Association.
“I know Michael is in the arms of god now. I have no doubt. I know he’s watching over us, guarding us,” Thompson’s sister said.
Thompson’s wife Emily — a police officer herself — spoke of her husband’s dedication.
“Though I’m heartbroken I’m going to put on my badge and uniform, and return to the streets just like my brothers and sisters in blue,” she said.
Ahrens’ funeral took place in Plano.
As each officer was laid to rest, they received an emotional goodbye from loved ones.
“One thing I would always say to my dad was ‘goodbye daddy, be safe,’ and today we say our final goodbye daddy, we love you, be safe,” Thompson’s daughter said.
Dallas Police Officer Michael Krol’s funeral is set for Friday and Dallas police Officer Patrick Zamarripa’s funeral will be held Saturday.
As the funerals begin, President Barack Obama is meeting Wednesday with police officers at the White House. It’s the second such meeting this week and will be expanded to include mayors, academics and civil rights activists.
Obama said on Facebook that “we’ll share solutions from communities that have already found ways to build trust and reduce disparities.”
The president spoke at a public memorial service Tuesday for the fallen officers, where he applauded their bravery and sacrifice.
“These men and their families shared a commitment to something more than themselves,” he said.
He said the officers were killed while “upholding the constitutional rights of this country.”
“For a while the protest went on without incident — and despite the fact that police conduct was the subject of the protest, despite the fact that there must have been signs or slogans or chants with which they profoundly disagreed, these men and this department did their jobs like the professionals that they were,” the president said.
Obama then addressed fears gripping a nation caught in a bitter debate over policing after the recent police killings of two black men, Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana, earlier in the week.
The president made a plea for common ground.
“Surely, we should be able to hear the pain of Alton Sterling’s family just as we should hear the students describe their affection for Philando Castile,” he said.
The president stood facing five empty chairs for the police officers, who were killed last week by a black Army veteran he described as “demented.” Authorities said Micah Johnson sought to kill white police officers to avenge police killings of blacks.
Behind the president, underscoring his message of unity: Dallas police officers, a racially diverse church choir and local officials.
Those without an invitation to the interfaith memorial service gathered at locations throughout Dallas in a show of solidarity.
“Over the last couple of days, I felt that the community has grown much stronger,” Dallas resident Vicki Cartwright said.
“We have a lot of work to do, but it’s not impossible,” said Dallas resident Fonda Livingston.
Former President George W. Bush also spoke at the service and had a message for the officers’ families.
“Your loss is unfair. We cannot explain it,” he said. “We can stand beside you and share your grief.”
A heartwarming image from the memorial has also surfaced the depicting children of two of the fallen officers.
In the image, Smith’s 10-year-old daughter Caroline gives Lyncoln, Zamarripa’s 2-year-old daughter, a bracelet she made. The picture was taken by a family friend and was first shared by CBS Greensboro, North Carolina affiliate WFMY.
Nine other officers and two civilians were injured in a sniper attack during what had been a night of peaceful protest.
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