Nothing can ease the grief of the families of the five Dallas police officers who were killed by a sniper during a protest this summer. But a New York charity is trying to ease their financial concerns this holiday season by paying off their mortgages—or helping them buy homes.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, founded after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to support veterans, first responders, and their families, raised about $610,000 for the families. Some of that money was used to pay off the home loans of Sgt. Michael Smith and Dallas Area Rapid Transit Police Chief Brent Thompson, a newlywed, giving their families some much-needed financial security.
“It takes the burden off the minds of surviving family members,” foundation spokeswoman Catherine Christman told realtor.com®. “They know the homes are going to be there. It’s one less thing for them to worry about.”
Smith’s widow, Heidi Smith, told reporters on Monday that she and her daughters “would just like to thank everyone that made this possible for us to stay in our home that Michael worked so hard to provide for us.”
Emily Thompson, a fellow DART officer who had been married to Brent Thompson for only about two weeks, also thanked the group.
“This is amazing,” she said. “Wonderful.”
The family of Sr. Cpl. Lorne Ahrens had no housing needs, Christman said, and Officer Michael Krol was single with no children, so their families were given $100,000 each. The foundation is also working to help the widow of Officer Patrick Zamarripa buy a home.
The Dallas police officers were killed during a Black Lives Matter protest in response to recent police shootings.
“It could not be more fitting than at Christmastime we are providing homes for these families who are so deserving,” Christman said.
The group also paid off the Iowa mortgage for the widow of Sgt. Anthony Beminio, the Des Moines police officer and father of three who was gunned down in November rushing to the scene where a fellow officer had been shot.
“At the end of the day, this pain is not going away anytime soon,” the foundation’s Chief Operating Officer John Hodge told Fox affiliate KDFW. “We’re trying to relieve a small portion of the pain.”
An additional $10 million was raised for the Texas officers’ families by the Assist the Officer Foundation and the Dallas Foundation. The money will also go toward helping the nine other Dallas officers hurt in the attack.
“We owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to the officers who lost or risked their lives to keep us safe,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told reporters this week. “Out of one of the darkest days in our city’s history, we have seen an incredible outpouring of love and support from organizations and individuals all over the world.”