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Brent Thompson married fellow transit officer weeks before dying in Dallas shooting

Brent Thompson. (DART/European Pressphoto Agency)

When Brent Thompson saw you in church, said Sandra Hughes, he’d wrap you in a hug.

When his children were in Hughes’s classroom, he’d ask how he could help, and what he could do.

And when he became a grandfather, Hughes said, he “just lived for those little kids.”

“He’s just was an incredible guy,” said Hughes, a retired teacher in Texas. “And I know those are words that describe everybody. I wish I could just think of a word to describe Brent because he was just, I don’t know how to tell you this, he was just wonderful.”

Officer Patrick Zamarripa survived three tours in Iraq before being killed in Dallas

Thompson, a 43-year-old Dallas Area Rapid Transit police officer, was killed in Thursday’s mass shooting in Dallas, the agency confirmed on its website and Twitter feed. He was one of at least five officers killed by sniper gunfire after a peaceful protest against police shootings in the downtown streets.

Patrick Zamarripa, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith and Michael Krol of the Dallas Police Department and Brent Thompson of Dallas Area Rapid Transit are the five victims who were killed in Thursday's shooting in Dallas. Seven others were wounded. (Video: Erin Patrick O'Connor/The Washington Post)

“When I’m just sitting here thinking about him and talking about him, it makes me want to be so emotional, because I’ll just never understand why somebody like Brent would have to go,” Hughes said in an interview Friday. “Because he’s just, he was in every way, every way, that you would want your son, and that you would want someone that you knew, to be like. You’d want him to be like Brent. Because Brent, he was just that special.”

Hughes, who has known Thompson for years, described Thompson as kind, the type of guy who would go out of his way to be friendly and help others. In the wake of his shooting, she struggled for the right words to describe the man she called “just the perfect kid, to me.”

“He was just precious,” Hughes said. “Precious, precious to the bone.”

Hughes described the transit officer as calm and down-to-earth, someone who never got excited or agitated. She never heard him utter a curse word, she said, and she “never heard anything ugly.”

When she thought of Thompson, she found herself wishing that everybody could “be like Brent, in one way or the other,” Hughes said.

“Not the whole enchilada,” she said. “I’m not talking about that. Just, if somebody could just take a part of him, and be that part, our world would be a better place. That’s how he was.”

Police chief lost his son, former partner and brother to violence

Thompson was always smiling, said DART Police Chief James Spiller, and always had a kind word to say.

“Very friendly, courteous, polite, professional,” Spiller said. “Engaging, but yet able to fully execute his duties as a police officer, and didn’t always necessarily resort to the police-type approach.”

His death marks the first time a DART officer has been killed in the line of duty. Thompson joined DART police in 2009, according to the transit agency, which established a police department in 1989.

“As you can imagine, our hearts are broken,” DART said on its website. “This is something that touches every part of our organization. We have received countless expressions of support and sympathy from around the world through the evening. We are grateful for every message.”

Thompson on Thursday night was working as a patrol officer in an area of downtown Dallas known as the Central Business District, according to Spiller. He, along with other officers, were focused on Rosa Parks Plaza, a transfer center, and a station.

Not every transit officer is well-suited for that assignment, said Spiller.

“It takes a special person to be down there, we have a lot of persons with different attitudes, and, you know, it’s just a different group of people that hang out around that area,” he said. “And Brent could handle it very well, and he did it well, and that’s why we had him down there.”

Military records indicate that Thompson served in the Marines during the early 1990s. He graduated from the Navarro College Police Academy in 1997, according to a spokeswoman for the school, which is located in Corsicana, Tex.

“Navarro College is deeply saddened by the loss of Brent Thompson and the additional police officers who were killed and injured in the Dallas shooting,” she wrote. “Brent was a great guy, excellent police officer and was always eager to participate in additional training to best serve his community and country.”

Thompson had married just a few weeks ago, according to Spiller.

“I’d like to point out, Brent was recently married to another transit officer in the last two weeks,” Spiller said during an appearance on the “Today” show. “So this is very heartbreaking for us.”

On CNN, he said that Thompson was in “great spirits from his recent marriage.”

“She’s holding up about as well as to be expected,” he told The Post in an interview Friday.

Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed to this report, which has been updated.

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