By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
FORT WORTH — Patrick Zamarripa’s life was one of service.
As a child, he served as an altar boy at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Fort Worth. Following graduation from Paschal High School, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving three tours in Iraq. When Zamarripa returned home to Texas, he became a police officer in Dallas.
His aunt, Lanette Martinez said that’s just who her 32-year-old nephew was — someone who was hugely compassionate.
“He did so many good things for so many people,” Martinez said. “Patrick served his community. He served his family. He served who he knew. He served who he didn’t know. And he served the Lord in everything he did.”
Speaking at a candlelight vigil for her nephew on July 10 in Fort Worth, Martinez recalled when Zamarripa came to the aid of a single mother who had purchased a home that had past ties to drug trafficking.
“All day and all night, people would come to the home looking for drugs,” Martinez said.
Martinez said when the woman reached out for help, her nephew answered.
“He didn’t go one night. He didn’t go two nights. He didn’t go three nights. He went as many times as he could to check on this mother and her children,” she said. “He would sit outside her house to make sure she was safe and her children were safe. That’s the kind of police officer that Patrick was. He would do anything for anyone.”
Zamarripa joined the Dallas police force six years ago. Deputy Chief Albert Martinez, a parishioner at St. Jude Catholic Church in Allen, supervised Zamarippa’s division. He called him an “outstanding officer.”
“He did so many things,” he said, recalling Zamarripa recently talking to and feeding a homeless person downtown. “For those of us who are Christians and who are Catholics, we know that Patrick saw Jesus Christ in that person. That is the kind of person the Zamarippa family brought to us.”
The deputy chief said the Dallas department is suffering from the losses of officers such as Zamarippa.
“We’re hurting,” he said. “We will mourn him. We will cry for him. With my heart heavy, though, he will not be forgotten.”
Sgt. Ivan Gunter, a parishioner at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church in Oak Cliff, served as a supervisor in Zamarripa’s unit. He said Zamarripa was easy to like and will be hard to forget.
“He was funny, quick-witted and a sports fanatic,” Sgt. Gunter said. “He would joke around a lot, but in reality, he had a heart of gold. It was a blessing to have him in my unit.”
Sgt. Gunter also recalled Zamarripa as being a devoted father and family man as well as a man of faith.
“His kids, his family, they meant everything to him. I watched him sacrifice for them countless times,” he said. “I knew he was a faithful man, a Catholic. You know the person by their actions.”
Daniel Cedillo, a retired Fort Worth firefighter whose sons attended school with Zamarippa at All Saints Catholic School in Fort Worth, remembered Zamarripa as being a young man who was always quick to offer a smile.
“He was one of the most pleasant, smiling individuals I’ve ever met,” he said. “He was a really good kid.”
Zamarripa’s mother, Valerie Zamarripa, arrived at the candlelight vigil hugging a portrait of her son and clutching a St. Michael the Archangel candle.
“My son carried an image of St. Michael the Archangel in his wallet,” she said, adding that her father, Larry Martinez, told them that St. Michael would always take care of them. “My son was a very good person. He loved all people, and he loved his work.”
Family members struggled to process the news as it was learned July 7. Daniel Zamarippa, the fallen officer’s uncle, admitted he felt a range of emotions.
“When it first happened, I was angry. Now I’m just sad because the world is losing a good person. He was doing what he loved to do and protecting people that he didn’t know,” he said. “And what tears me apart is the person who shot him was so full of hate. We have got to learn to teach people not to hate, but to love.”
The uncle said he eventually turned to his faith to deal with tragedy.
“My faith makes me strong,” he said. “We need to stay strong. If we don’t, hate will continue and the devil will divide us. We don’t want that; I don’t want that. God is love.”
Zamarripa was a devoted fan of the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers. The biggest passion in his life, though, was his family — Kristy Villaseñor, the love of his life whom he had known since high school; their 2-year-old daughter, Lyncoln; and a 10-year-old stepson, Dylan.
“He was a wonderful dad,” his aunt said. “They were the loves of his life.”
Carmen Harris, a lifelong friend of Zamarripa’s mother, said his generosity, faith and kindness came natural to him. His maternal grandfather, who passed away in 2015, was beloved in the community and known for praying the rosary and playing guitar for many of those who passed away.
“His signature song was ‘One Day at a Time,’ ” Harris said. “Now I like to think Patrick is singing with him again.”