College officials on Monday praised the “heroic actions” of their campus police after a peaceful protest over police violence suddenly turned deadly about 9 p.m. last Thursday when a sniper began targeting white police officers. Five officers were killed in the deadliest day for law enforcement in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Cpl. Bryan Shaw, a detective, was guarding an entrance to El Centro when the sniper began shooting out the glass doors; he was hit under his protective vest. “Shaw returned to protect other officers and civilians with bullet fragments still lodged in his stomach and was not examined by Emergency Medical Services personnel until 3 a.m.,” according to a statement from the Dallas County Community College District.
As the glass shattered, Officer John Abbott was hit by shards below his knees. A former corpsman for the Navy — a medic — he rushed to help Brent Thompson, a 43-year-old Dallas Area Rapid Transit police officer who had been shot, but Thompson was fatally wounded.
Only after trying to help Thompson did Abbott treat the lacerations, according to the statement. He then went back to protecting others.
Shaw will require surgery but is resting at home with his family, as is Abbott. Both men asked for privacy during their recovery, according to the statement.
Ann Hatch, a spokeswoman for the Dallas County Community College District, which includes El Centro, said the shooter apparently went in through shattered windows and entrances in one building, climbed stairs up to the second level of an attached building, and died on the second floor of a third connected building on campus, killed by a police bomb robot after an hours-long standoff with police.
About 25 evening and continuing education classes were taking place that night, but no students or faculty members were hurt.
College officials praised El Centro’s chief of police, Joseph Hannigan, and college police officers Shaw, Abbott, Luis Hernandez, Andrew Maughan and Gene Pouncy. Several off-duty officers also rushed to campus to help that night, as well as officers from other colleges in the district.
The downtown campus and several buildings will remain closed through July 17; summer session classes scheduled to begin Tuesday will take place elsewhere. Food and hospitality instructors and the director have partnered with local restaurants to prepare and serve food to the Dallas Police Department and El Centro officers working night and day at the scene.
“Our El Centro College Police Department has shown true heroism as they protected the safety of our students, staff, civilians and other officers involved in Thursday’s shooting,” the statement reads. “We salute you, and we appreciate you.”