Tragic event brought our community closer together

Note: This blog was published as a guest column in Sunday’s edition of The Eagle.

No one in our community will ever forget the senseless act that claimed the lives of Chris Northcliffe and Constable Brian Bachmann, and left several others injured. Nor will we forget the extraordinary way our residents responded to one of the more painful events in our history.

As we begin to heal, it’s appropriate to recognize and offer our sincere appreciation to those who put themselves in harm’s way that day to ensure that more lives were not lost. The timely and valiant actions of College Station police officers and firefighters revealed remarkable courage and professionalism.

The tragic events of Aug. 13 were a sobering reminder of the dangers our first responders face each day. These selfless professionals have dedicated their lives to keeping our streets safe and responding to emergencies, always placing our safety above their own. Regrettably, we take their heroism, bravery and service for granted too often. 

In the last few days, I’ve heard countless stories about conscientious residents going out of their way to thank our police and firefighters for their valor and faithful service, and I hope that heartfelt appreciation continues long after the pain of that fateful day subsides. The first responders’ families — who fully understand the risks their loved ones face every day — deserve our thanks, too.

We’re also profoundly grateful for the rapid response and invaluable assistance of the Bryan Police and Fire Departments, Texas A&M University Police, Brazos County Sheriff’s Department and Brazos County Constables. Along with numerous state and federal agencies, these groups responded quickly and professionally to a volatile crime scene. 

In addition, many other organizations, individuals and city departments provided valuable assistance.  Specifically, I’d like to recognize the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, Public Communications Office and the College Station Independent School District for going beyond the call of duty.

Within minutes of the incident, Parks and Recreation cleared patrons and converted the Lincoln Center into a police command post, and Public Communications began coordinating the distribution of information that was essential in calming a chaotic situation. Meanwhile, CSISD immediately offered its administrative conference room as a media center to handle the multitude of local, state and national news representatives that soon arrived to report on this terrible event.

Finally, the outpouring of support from our citizens and businesses was simply astounding.  Whether it was donating money, food, supplies, or providing emotional support and comfort for the victims and their families, our residents rose to the occasion. No one who has lived here for any length of time was surprised by the response, which was simply a reflection of the timeless values this community always displays.

With thankful hearts, we’ll continue to honor Constable Bachmann and remember Mr. Northcliffe, and we wish speedy and complete recoveries for Barbara Holdsworth and Officer Justin Oehlke. 

This awful tragedy could easily have changed our town for the worse, but the people who live here and those who protect us refused to allow that to happen. We’re undoubtedly poorer for those we lost, but we’re also infinitely richer for the inspiring way this dreadful event brought us all closer together.

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