Editor's Note: The following article was originally published July 8, 2016. We are re-posting it from our archives Wednesday, July 7, 2021 on the fifth anniversary of the ambush of police in Dallas that killed five officers, including Corsicana's Brent Thompson.
CORSICANA, Texas – Brent Thompson knew violence as a police trainer in Iraq and Afghanistan, but friends in his hometown said the last thing he’d expect is to be killed by a sniper on American soil.
“This one hits home because he is one of our own,” said Navarro County, Texas sheriff Elmer Tanner. “My heart just breaks.”
Thompson, 43, was one of five police officers assassinated in downtown Dallas Thursday night by what investigators said was a sole gunman near the conclusion of a protest march against recent police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
A divorced father of seven children and also a grandfather of two, Thompson served for nearly seven years on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit police force, a duty that included helping keep people safe during the peaceful protest that ended in unimaginable tragedy.
Colleagues said he remarried only two weeks ago, to a fellow transit officer, and was in great spirits about the future.
“Brent was a great officer,” said James Spiller, DART police chief. “He was an outstanding patrol officer as well as a rail officer. We have the highest respect for him.”
Thompson grew up in Corsicana, just 50 miles south of Dallas, graduating from Corsicana High School in 1990 and from the local Navarro College Police Academy in 1997. His older brother, R. Lowell Thompson, is the local district attorney, and his father, Sam Thompson, is the retired athletic director of the Corsicana Independent School District.
Ten years ago, Brent led a team of American police trainers sent by DynCorp, a military contractor, to mentor Afghan and Iraq police forces. He described the experience as teaching the concepts of democratic policing on his LinkedIn profile.
Thompson launched his law enforcement career with the Navarro County Sheriff’s Department, later joining the local school district police force.
Monica Moody, who graduated from high school with Thompson, wrote on Facebook that he was a “friend to many, a father, a brother, a son, a brave and honorable man who served our country and community. I don’t have the words to express the sadness I feel. I can only pray for his family and loved ones.”
Lavon Denson, a Navarro College police officer, said she had spoken with Thompson only three weeks ago.
“This one hits me hard,” said Denson. “I’ve known him so long. Brent started at DART when I started police academy. He saw me one day after I graduated and say, ‘You made it! Good girl!’”
Julie Reeves, a justice of the peace officer, cried when she learned of Thompson’s death. She said their children grew up together in Corsicana.
“Brent was a great guy, a great friend,” said Reeves. “He was the example of what a police officer stood for. He was always kind, never one to talk down to anyone; not even the people he dealt with in his line of duty.”