When the shots rang out in downtown Dallas on July 7, Sgt. Ivan Gunter thought it was fireworks. “They were far away,” he said. “And then, as the shots continued, you realized these aren’t fireworks.” When the shooting stopped the night of the ambush, three of the eight officers under his command were dead. Another three were injured. Gunter has long been a proponent of the type of heavy ballistic gear that could have saved one or more of the five officers killed that night, reports WFAA-TV in Dallas.
Gunman Micah Johnson used a semi-automatic assault file to carry out the attack. Gunter purchased his own heavy ballistic gear. Ceramic plates on the front and back of the custom-fit vest can protect against rifle rounds. It goes on over an officer’s uniform shirt with the regular bulletproof vest underneath it. Regular vests provided by the department will not stop rifle rounds. Gunter also has a standard, military-issue Kevlar helmet that helps protect against those high-capacity rounds. For six years, Gunter has been taking it upon himself to help officers buy the gear by coordinating orders in bulk. The gear is fitted to each individual officer’s measurements. It costs about $550 for the vest, plates, and helmet. Gunter makes no money doing it. The police department announced this week that they’re buying about 200 rifle plates, rifle plate vests, and helmets for its officers so they can be better prepared for the worst.