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El Paso police lieutenant was on duty for both El Paso’s Aug. 3rd and New York’s 9/11

EL PASO, Texas-- Everyone who lived through the darkest day in El Paso's history will for ever have a story to tell about August 3rd. It's likely everyone who witnessed it whether at the scene or at home watching the news will remember where they were when they heard about the tragedy.

One man has a story to tell about Aug. 3 reflecting what was a much too familiar moment for him, as he was also a responding officer with the NYPD during the 9/11 attacks.

El Paso Police Department Lt. John Schneider was working out that fateful August morning at the west side regional command when he heard the call over the radio. Dressed in workout clothes, he geared up and jumped in his unmarked police vehicle and rushed to the scene.

"I put my police gear on and then I headed on I-10. Unfortunately you know as you are hearing the call, and it is getting upgraded, that there are more people down - and it is still active . You're stressed out you can't get there fast enough," Schneider said.

As Schneider was making his way to the scene, calls over the radio were advising that the shooter may have been seen at the mall. He redirected and drove directly to the mall to help clear the area.

During that nearly 17-mile drive Schneider had a chance to reflect on his time as a responding officer in New York during 9/11.

"I called my wife really quick. It kind of reminded me of 9/11 a little bit because its similar: I'm working, something happens, I call her 'hey this is what is going on' - just to let her know. This way she knows what I'm doing at least because I'm not going to be able to give her updates for a while," Schneider said.

He, like many other El Pasoans, are still working through emotions related to that day. Schneider and other law enforcement officers are still coping with this day one year later.

"For all of us, I think we kind of go through a little depression because our goal is to protect and serve the community and we couldn't get there fast enough to protect those 23 lives. So we feel like sometimes you let them down and you have to live with that its just part of this job its part of life," Schneider said.

As the community comes together to remember the 23 lives lost on Aug. 3, Schneider and his colleagues continue to cope through this loss. While that day changed the community forever, Schneider wants to work to make the El Paso community feel safe once again.

"We understand that when we take this job, it's 24/7, no matter what we're doing. Whether we're eating with the family when somebody calls or something like this happens, we're going to go no matter what," Schneider said.

Crime / News / Top Stories / Video

JC Navarrete

El Paso native JC Navarrete co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend newscasts and reports during the week.

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  1. On 9/11, I was getting dressed to go to work at our Seattle Field Division and saw the second plane hit. Last year,my wife and her daughter were out shopping,when I got an emergency text message from my office here. I called my wife and told her what was going on and to 10-19 ASAP

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