Maria Zamarripa, her television tuned to the murderous rampage in Dallas, grabbed her phone to frantically text her stepson: “Can u please let us know if you are OK?”
When Dallas police Officer Patrick Zamarippa never replied, she immediately thought the worst.
“I got that gut feeling when I texted him,” Maria Zamarripa recalled Friday inside the family’s suburban Texas home. “I knew.”
Her premonition proved sadly prescient: The five-year police veteran and father of a beautiful 2-year-old girl was among the five officers killed Thursday night in a racist rampage.
The 32-year-old Mexican-American cop was a Navy veteran who served three tours in Iraq — only to die on the Dallas streets during a peaceful protest march, said devastated family members.
“You always think of somebody that would die in war or get killed in Iraq in a foreign country. But not here,” Maria Zamarripa, 50, told the Daily News the day after his killing.
Zamarripa was the oldest of three children and “the ideal big brother,” said Maria Zamarripa.
A television in the home remained tuned to the news coverage of the Dallas attack, and a wall inside was covered in crucifixes of different colors and shapes.
His dad Rick, who was weeping Thursday night while waiting to hear from Patrick, recalled a father-son fishing trip where the youngster caught his first catfish.
“He always wanted to impress his dad,” Rick said wistfully. “I said, ‘You don’t have to impress me. I love you. I’m your dad.’”
Patrick, who grew up in Saginaw, was remembered by his parents as a kind and helpful guy who loved life.
“Patrick’s the kind of guy that would bend over backward to help,” said Rick. “If he has $1 and you needed it, he’d give it to you. He’s the type of person that would do without so you can have.”
Moments after Maria sent a second text at 10:33 p.m., the phone rang with a summons to Parkland Hospital. Their greatest fears were confirmed upon arrival: Patrick was pronounced dead at 9:17 p.m.
“No! No! No!” screamed Rick.
Zamarripa was a devoted fan of the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys, and his girlfriend Kristy was at a Rangers’ game when the ambush began.
He was also helping to raise Kristy’s older son. “He loved being a dad,” Maria said.
Friends and family of the slain officer poured out condolences on social media.
“Love you brother. Couldn’t be prouder. We’ll see you again,” his step brother, Dustin Martinez, tweeted with a photo of Zamarripa in his police uniform.
“We will never forget you. Thank you for your courage. Rest in peace, Patrick Zamarripa,” tweeted Ben Rogers.
The last time Maria saw her stepson, he was picking up his daughter at her house — and discovered the girl was learning to talk.
“We were just happy to hear her putting words together and he had a big smile on his face,” she said.
Zamarripa was proud of his Mexican heritage, loved to golf, and, most of all, loved being on the police force.
“He loved being a cop,” said Maria. “He loved helping people.”
Desiree Cosineau reporting in Saginaw, Texas