Residents coming to need of fallen officer, family
Three prayer services. Two significant fundraisers. One city in unity.
Burleson residents responded last week not only to the news of an murderous attack on police in Dallas that left five officers dead and more than a half dozen others wounded, but to the realization one of the officers killed in the attack was their neighbor, a Burleson resident.
Dallas police Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, 48, a 14-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, was one of five officers killed in the attack. He moved with his wife to Burleson after 10 years of service with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Marion Abe Bledsoe
James M. Carpenter
Danny Forest Cordes
George A. Robinson, Jr.
Clifton Leigh Taylor
Agency: Burleson P.D.; End of watch: Dec. 27, 1987
"There's probably not many residents in Burleson who don't feel some connection to the Ahrens family," Mayor Ken Shetter said. "We have such respect for the sacrifice they have made as a family."
As news of the Thursday ambush by a gunman in Dallas began to spread Friday, members from four different churches and supporters of police gathered outside the Burleson Police Department to pray for law enforcement. Residents returned for two more prayer services. Others brought well wishes and tokens of appreciation to police.
"This is such a wonderful community," said Deputy Police Chief Doug Sandifer, who has served his entire career in Burleson. "We are fortunate to have many police officers from other departments call this their home and the place they have chosen to raise their families."
Residents watching the news in Dallas unfold learned Michael Krol, 40, Sgt. Michael Smith, 55, and Patrick Zamarippa, 32, all of the Dallas Police Department, and Brent Thompson, 43, of the DART Police Department had been killed by the attack. Then they learned Ahrens was among them.
"I've had trouble even getting my mind around how this could have happened," Police Chief Billy Cordell told a crowd gathered to pray for police.
"We're not perfect," Cordell said. "We don't plan to be perfect. What we want to do is honor the badge we wear with integrity."
Sharon Keenom, whose sister is a neighbor to the Ahrens family, immediately responded Friday by establishing an account to support the Burleson man and his family HERE. As of midday Tuesday, the fund had generated more than $12,000, monies that will go directly to the family.
Charlie Argo, 6, then came up with an idea for a lemonade and cookie stand in the Wakefield subdivision, with proceeds going toward the Russ Martin Foundation to support fallen officers. He ended up getting visits Saturday from neighbors, the police chief, police officers, at least one member of City Council and others.
Charlie finished the day raising $2,605 and another $170 on a GoFundMe page. Charlie even had visitors Sunday, after he had already sold out of lemonade and cookies.
"He is a very caring kid and follows his heart," Robby Argo said of his son, who wants to serve in the military and then be a police officer one day. "I'm glad that his choice brought our community together to support a cause that matters."
Also Saturday, U.S. Rep. Roger Williams and the Burleson Lions Club reacted to the news of Thursday night by naming the rescheduled Independence Day Parade in Ahrens honor, and then Ahrens' son, Magnus, was spotted by many with a ride next to Burleson ISD Superintendent Bret Jimerson on a Rotary Club parade float.
"We decided as a school district that we wanted to be sure to support the family and especially the kids," Jimerson said. "All I did was drop by to check on them, and Magnus said he wanted to be in the parade."
So, as the parade proceeded, Magnus asked of Jimerson: "All of this is for my dad?"
"Yes," Jimerson said. "This is all for your dad."
Magnus had one request, Jimerson said. He wanted to leave the parade with an American flag.
The mayor was among many who wore #BacktheBlue apparel during the parade.
"We can't help but feel a profound sense of sadness, but also pride, in this Burleson family," Shetter said. "I would encourage everyone to support this family and other officers in every way they feel comfortable."