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college police at the July 7 El Centro College ceremony
College police officers attended the July 7 ceremony at El Centro College.

​Contact: Cesar Canizales

For immediate release — July 12, 2017

(DALLAS) — On the anniversary of an ambush that killed five police officers and wounded several more in downtown Dallas, hundreds of El Centro College students, staff, faculty and Dallas-area first responders representing several agencies gathered on campus to honor police in a “Renewal and Resilience Commemorative Ceremony.”

The July 7, 2016, attack began after a peaceful protest near the college. The perpetrator killed four Dallas Police Department officers and a DART officer; he then shot his way into the A Building and later was killed upstairs. Two El Centro police officers, Cpl. Bryan Shaw and Officer John Abbott, were wounded in the attack.

Dr. Jose Adames, El Centro’s president, led the tribute and recognized all college officers who attended the ceremony. He said his focus continues to be on renewing and rebuilding the spirit of the college and the community it serves.

Dr. Jose Adames
Dr. Jose Adames, El Centro’s president, led the tribute and recognized all college officers who attended.

Adames said, “While a year has passed, the horrific memories and the emotional toll continue for many of us. Today we remember the lost lives, fathers, sons, brothers and uncles that did not make it home that night.”

After the ceremony, the college unveiled an artwork created by Stephanie Young, an El Centro art student.

“The piece is made to resemble birch, a tree that grows and thrives after devastation,” Young said. “It symbolizes regeneration and hope for new beginnings.” Pictures were projected on the tree’s branches that represented “What El Centro means to me.”

The college announced a fundraising effort to commission a permanent sculpture which will be completed and placed at the Elm Street entrance of the campus this fall.

“We think that this is important because we want everyone who has been affected by this event to have a chance to reflect when they walk into our campus,” said Paige Bluejacket, El Centro’s manager of community development.

DCCCD Police Commander Joseph Hannigan, who was actively involved in the pursuit of the shooter on the night of the attack, reflected on the year since the ambush.

Stephanie Young with artwork
Artwork created by El Centro student Stephanie Young is made to resemble birch, which “symbolizes regeneration and hope for new beginnings,” the artist says.

“Looking back on it, the thing that touched me most about the aftermath of July 7 was the outpouring of support that we’ve seen from the community, from our own students, our faculty and our staff. We notice the difference,” said Hannigan.

Rachel Royal, an El Centro student who also works in the college’s Learning Center, reflected on the days that preceded the Dallas ambush, when several police-related shootings had led to demonstrations around the country.

“I have the utmost respect for law enforcement, and I know the service they contribute to help protect our community is immeasurable,” said Royal. “Every life that is lived matters, and every life that is lost matters.”

Adam McGough, Dallas City Council member and coordinator of the conflict management program at El Centro College, also shared remarks during the event.

The ceremony at El Centro was part of a “Weekend of Honor” that paid tribute to those individuals who have sacrificed their lives for the protection of others. The weekend’s events included a 5K “Run for the Blue” race that was held the day after the college ceremony. Several DCCCD police officers from El Centro and other campuses participated in the event.

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