EXCLUSIVE: Alex Witt, who calls himself a brother to the late Dallas police officer Patrick Zamarripa, known as “Zam,” who was killed in an ambush attack on Dallas police on July 7, 2016 – one month before his 33rd birthday – is carrying on Zam’s legacy in a big way.
The U.S. Navy Veteran, who served a tour of service in Iraq, is the owner of the Chicago fitness gym, 10.40.10, and is the current CEO of Battle Bars, a Veteran-owned-and-operated protein bar company.
Through Battle Bars, Witt and his business comrades are honoring Zam’s legacy four years after his death via their “Nominate A Hero” initiative and are doing so through charitable efforts in partnership with Operation Enduring Warrior, whose mission is to “honor, empower, and motivate our nation’s wounded military and law enforcement veterans through physical, mental and emotional rehabilitation.”
“Operation Enduring Warrior – man these guys and girls are incredible,” said Witt, who joined Veteran U.S. Army Commander and Combat Engineer Ian Sparks, and his numbers-crunching brother, Colin Sparks.
Witt bought into Battle Bars after a logistics company he helped grow to over 250 employees was acquired by a top 10 third-party logistics firm.
“We wanted to find a charity that we could partner with who is similar to us in growth being they’re a smaller charity but with huge goals that are aligned with ours. We have such a great connection with these guys that it just makes sense.”
Witt told Fox News that Zam’s memory was one worth cherishing.
Zam was a father to two children when he was killed during a protest mere minutes after the diehard Dallas Cowboys fan had purchased food at a local 7-Eleven for a homeless man whose wallet was stolen.
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“Zam and I served in Iraq together, and he was like the first person that I met on my team in the Navy and he always liked to bust my balls,” Witt recalled. “In a way how a buddy would bust your balls and you knew he was a cool dude; he was making sure that you knew he was going to give you some s—.
“But it was cool, right. We’d be in Iraq and he was always the guy joking, always the guy who was very prideful in his country,” Witt pressed. “I mean – very, very prideful. On July 4, before he died, he has a now-viral tweet that said ‘Happy birthday to my beloved America.’ You can’t script that – like the guy was just the coolest dude that you could ever meet. Like how you and I were joking right away, that’s how he was. He was just a guy you could just get along with.”
Witt said he and Zam would often visit each other and attend games in Chicago, where Witt is a huge Bears and Cubs fan – as well as in Zam’s hometown of Dallas, where he cheered for his dear Cowboys and Texas Rangers Major League Baseball club.
“We were always going back and forth with each other,” Witt recalled. “He came to Chicago for the Bears versus Cowboys and we had a great time – a couple of time. Then I’d go down there for the Bears and Cowboys in Dallas and we’d always be ragging each other.”
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Witt explained that he and Zam were set to attend an interleague game between the Cubs and Rangers at the famed Wrigley Field in Chicago during the week of July 14. But instead of knocking back Micheladas and hot dogs with his pal, his brother, “I was burying him. And that was a really tough thing to do,” Witt said.
Such is part of the reason behind Battle Bars’ mission to prop Zamarippa’s legacy high.
“I let this guy into my life and we definitely confided in each other and said certain things that I would never say to anyone else, you know, just because it’s between him and [me],” said Witt. “But when that happens, you know, that’s something that you just can’t get back.
“So the only thing that I felt like I could do was develop a plan in my mind to get his name out there and then honor other officers like him and do things for the community for good that I think that he would want – that I think that he would be proud of.”
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Witt also championed Zam’s wife and the mother of his children, Kristy Zamarripa, whom Witt has vowed to look after in Zam’s absence.
“They’re still beaten up over it,” he said of Officer Zamarripa’s death. “I think the family is handling it in their own way. You know, Kristy is just – she’s tough as nails. She’s got two young kids that she’s raising on her own.”
Added Witt: “It’s important to me that I’m in their life on a regular basis and it’s important to our military guys and girls that served with Pat [Zamarripa], that we’re in their lives and consistently showing them some support and showing that when the kids grow up and are kind of free-thinkers – that they can say, ‘Hey, my dad was pretty awesome and really cool.”
Zam was Battle Bars’ first honoree in their “Nominate A Hero” campaign and Witt said he would want nothing more than to write a check to Operation Enduring Warrior in Zam’s name and has made it a mission to strive to meet that goal.
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“Zam used his gifts for good,” Witt said. “He was an LGBTQ supporter and was one of the good police officers out there. I think about it all the time. I mean, I have a necklace that I’m wearing right now with his badge. I have tattoos with his badge number – like he’s literally in my blood, man.”
He maintained: “This guy – it sounds weird to say – but if he didn’t die, I don’t know where I would be. I know where I’d be in the sense that we still would have sold our business, but I don’t know if I would be on the same path. I probably would have tried to get him to get out of law enforcement. You know, I probably would have tried to get him to come into business with me and do something cool.
“But at the end of the day, weird s— happens in life that puts you on a path and I think that my path is one that…” Witt paused to collect his thoughts. “Look, anyone who tells you that they don’t care about money, they’re lying. You want to be a millionaire; you want to make money because the right people need to have money to do the right things with that money. And that’s what I believe.
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“I want to build our brand up. I want Battle Bars to be a $100 million brand in three years. That’s my goal. I stare at it on my wall and I want to write that check to our charity, Operation Enduring Warrior, for a million bucks. I literally go to bed every night thinking about it and I wake up every morning thinking about it. Right. Like, presenting a check to these guys for a million bucks, would just – it would just make my life.”