It had been 12 hours since he’d lost his son to one of the country’s worst mass police shootings, and he still couldn’t understand why.
Dallas police officer Patrick Zamarripa had survived three tours in Iraq, one of the world’s most dangerous places, his father, Rick Zamarripa, said Friday. And then this.
[Five police officers killed in Dallas, and seven others wounded during shooting at protest]
“He comes to the United States to protect people here,” his dad said. “And they take his life.”
Rick was watching television Thursday night when news broke that someone had opened fire on downtown Dallas around 9 p.m. after a peaceful protest in the city. He knew that his son had in recent months begun working as a bike officer in the downtown area, an assignment he enjoyed.
“Hey Patrick,” his father texted. “Are you okay?”
Rick had asked his son that question before, because he knew Zamarripa’s job was dangerous. The response usually came quickly: “Yes, dad. I’ll call you back.”
Not this time.
“I didn’t hear nothing,” Rick said.
He contacted Zamarripa’s wife, Kristy Villasenor, whom he believes was at a Texas Rangers game with their 2-year-old daughter, Lyncoln. She didn’t initially know anything either, he said, but soon was told they should get to the hospital.
Rick sped east from his home 40 miles outside the city. He was the first family member to arrive.
“How’s Patrick?” he asked an officer.
“He wouldn’t tell me,” Rick said. “He had that look on his face. I knew.”
Patrick Zamarripa’s entire adult life had been devoted to service. He entered the Navy soon after high school, his father said, and saw combat during his time in Iraq. When he got out about five years ago, he joined the Dallas Police Department.
He just liked to help people, his father said.
His interests, outside of an avid devotion to the Rangers and Cowboys, were few.
But he adored his daughter.
He tweeted photos of Lyncoln on the day of her birth in 2013.
“Daddy’s got you,” he wrote. “My new reason for… life.”
Daddy's got you #Lyncoln. pic.twitter.com/xtZ8oScWB4
— Patrick Zamarripa (@PatrickEZ01) December 16, 2013
Lyncoln Rae. 12-14-13, 7.15 lbs 20 1/2".
My new reason for for life. #daddysgirl#princesspic.twitter.com/jcD6SjkRm1
— Patrick Zamarripa (@PatrickEZ01) December 15, 2013
On Thursday night, Rick said, the family was briefly allowed to see his face through a glass window.
Lyncoln, Rick said, called out for her father.
“Da da,” he heard her cry. “Da da.”