Who Was Sgt. Michael J. Smith? Here's The Dallas Shooting Victim's Story

Two Fridays ago, Dallas police chief David Brown and Mayor Mike Rawlings held a joint press conference to comment on and memorialize five members of the city's police department who were shot and killed the night before in a harrowing, apparent sniper ambush during an anti-police brutality protest. Five officers were killed, seven more injured, and the attack has triggered an outpouring of sympathy and support. And now, all five of their identities have become public, including that of DPD Sgt. Michael J. Smith.

Smith, a resident of Carrollton, Texas, was killed in the gunfire along with Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens and officers Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, and Brent Thompson. The killing of these five officers made the Dallas police ambush one of the deadliest single events for American police ever, and it appears to have been a "lone-wolf" attack ― despite initial confusion and reports of multiple collaborators, as of this writing, law enforcement authorities believe it was carried out by just one man.

It was a grisly and awful night that's going to be burned into the national consciousness for a long time. It brought an end to Smith and his colleagues' lives, and their long policing careers ― Smith himself was reportedly a 28-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department.

According to Dallas' local NBC affiliate, the 55-year-old Smith was also a veteran of the U.S. Army, where he served for seven years. He was reportedly the 26th police officer slain by gunfire this year (41 such fatalities happened in 2015), and according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, he's survived by his wife and their three daughters.

The killings of Smith and his four fellow DPD officers have ushered in an immense amount of support, both from within the Dallas community and across the country. That's in keeping with what was a notably positive environment prior to the deadly shootings on Thursday ― while the attack took place in the midst of an anti-police brutality protest, it was by all accounts wholly peaceful, with numerous reports of sympathetic and friendly interactions between the assembled officers and the demonstrators.

Basically, Smith's death was a towering, high-profile tragedy, alongside both his colleagues, and of course, the pair of black men slain by police earlier that week ― Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile of Minnesota ― whose deaths precipitated the massive protests in the first place.