A storms moved across Balch Springs Saturday afternoon police officers dashed from tent to tent trying to stay dry. Dozens of officers, firefighters, and neighbors were setting up an end of summer bash for the community as the showers came and went. They didn't know how many of the city's residents would show because of the weather, but soon they found out.
A half hour before the party was set to start hundreds of families were already gathered. Volunteers handed out backpacks for children and free cheeseburgers for hungry crowds. Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber said the turnout was overwhelming.
"We are a community. There is a real closeness here," Haber said.
For the last four months, Balch Springs has been the focus of national media after a police officer shot and killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards who was unarmed. Edwards was leaving a house party when Officer Roy Oliver shot and killed him. Days later, Oliver was fired and charged with murder.
Teresa Stephens brought her two teenage sons to the community party. She watched and cheered as her 15-year-old played a pickup game with police officers.
"We need police officers and they need us as well," Stephens said.
Like many of the people in Balch Springs Stephens says her town has been defined by the fatal police shooting. She says Edwards' death was a tragedy but does not represent everyday life in her hometown.
"That was a tragic incident but it was an isolated incident. I have never had problems with the police," Stephens said.
Firefighters and city leaders also attended the event. Officers set up a screen to show a movie for families in the park as the sun went down. Music blasted as couples and children danced and played games.
"We just want people to come together to know each other," Haber said.
By the time the party started the storm clouds had moved out. And as the sun went down the crowds were still there.
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