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Slain Dallas police officer had close family ties in Alaska

  • Author: Michelle Theriault Boots
  • Updated: July 10, 2016
  • Published July 10, 2016

On Thursday night, longtime Eagle River residents William and Sue Ahrens got a text message from one of their sons.

He had heard about a sniper attack on law enforcement at a protest in Dallas. William Ahrens' son Lorne was a police officer there.

Did they know if he was safe?

William texted his son and got no response.

Later that night, the couple learned that Lorne Ahrens, 41, had died. He was one of five police officers killed in the worst loss of life of law enforcement since Sept. 11.

Dallas Police Officer Lorne Ahrens, son of William and Sue Ahrens of Eagle River. (Courtesy of the Ahrens family)

His father and stepmother are mourning the death of their son, a tattooed man with a gap-toothed grin and a 6-foot-5-inch, 300-pound frame who was known as a devoted police officer and father.

On Sunday, William Ahrens wasn't up for talking to another reporter about the loss of his son. His wife, Sue Ahrens, spoke about her stepson.

Lorne Ahrens was raised in Southern California, where he lived before moving to Dallas more than a decade ago to fulfill his dream of working as a police officer, said Sue Ahrens.

His father and stepmother moved to Eagle River in 1983 to escape crowded Southern California, she said. Lorne visited Alaska with his family, but just once, she said.

The couple runs a business, Delta P Pump and Equipment. William Ahrens is also a pilot who is involved in running the Birchwood Hangars Association. They are active members of the Anchorage Baptist Temple. Their Alaska community — especially their church congregation — has surrounded them with love since news of Lorne's death came out. 

In the days since the killings, Ahrens' colleagues have offered stories about his last moments at work: Lorne, they have told Ahrens, heard the gunshots and ran toward them. That didn't surprise her. He was "passionate" about police work, she said.

"His first response was, I'm going to get there," Ahrens said.

Lorne Ahrens was also the devoted father of a 10-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy, Sue Ahrens said. He volunteered weekly in his daughter's classroom and coached his son's soccer team.

"His children were his life," she said. "People always say that, but his really were."

The couple is gathering old photos and preparing to travel to Dallas for the memorial service. Stories about Lorne on and off the job keep trickling in. Maybe it was his big size or his demeanor. But at first, everyone seemed to believe he'd survive being shot, including his wife.

When they spoke to Lorne's wife while he was in surgery after the shooting, it was to make plans for visiting when he recovered.

"I said oh, I  could get Bill down there tonight," Sue Ahrens said. "And she said oh no, it'll be days before he can talk. He's got a tube in his mouth. She completely expected him to pull through."

It's still hard to believe he's gone, she said.

"Everybody said, 'Not Lorne, he's invincible.'"

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