Christopher Northcliffe loved being out in nature.
Whether he was gardening with his daughter, Emily, or taking walks with his wife, Christy, in Lick Creek Park, the Texas A&M graduate couldn’t resist fresh air and the beauty of the world.
So it was only natural on Tuesday that Northcliffe’s family and friends strolled through Lick Creek Park as they remembered Northcliffe, who was killed seven years ago as an innocent bystander during a gun battle between authorities and a man receiving an eviction notice. Brazos County Constable Brian Bachmann also died in the shootout in College Station that day.
Despite Tuesday’s heat, about two dozen people walked the sandy, shaded trails in the park, where a bench honoring Northcliffe that was dedicated by the Texas Master Naturalists sits. A walk has been held in the park every year since 2013, weather permitting.
“One [reason] I do this is that it keeps me distracted, although my job teaching keeps me distracted,” Christy Northcliffe said, noting that she assists disabled students who attend Bryan ISD. “It also helps people remember who Chris was.”
Thomas Northcliffe, 27, said he honors his father on a regular basis by working hard and being creative. His dad, who studied mechanical engineering at Texas A&M, loved to build things. Thomas has vivid memories of his father helping him fashion scrap metal into a costume, and Thomas says he still likes to build and create, just as his father would have.
Emily Northcliffe shared pictures of her family’s animals, including a cat they’ve had for 18 years. Pets have been cathartic for her, she said.
“I think I’ve been coping decently,” she said. “I [adopted] a cat in 2014, and she really helps.”
Christy Northcliffe has been vocal about gun regulations since her husband’s death. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which happened shortly after Christopher’s death, she reached out to organizations, including Moms Demand Action and Everytown For Gun Safety, who both offered her comfort and emotional support. She has remained supportive of these organizations and tries to speak out about gun violence in honor of her husband’s memory.
“Mom has always been passionate,” Thomas Northcliffe said. “If you want change, show you want change. She and Dad would protest the death penalty at every execution, and it has been about guns since.”
While a formal event was not organized this year to honor Bachmann, his name is featured on the national memorial for fallen officers in Washington, D.C.
Bryan police Sgt. Jason James remembers his good friend Bachmann as a funny person who always had a good story to share. The two were among a friend group of officers who work for local agencies and had lunch every Friday. James said that group still meets for lunch on occasion and remembers the good times with Bachmann.
James said the shootout that killed Northcliffe and Bachmann and injured four others is used as a teaching point for police departments in training exercises across the country, thanks to efforts by the College Station Police Department.
“It’s all about learning from these instances,” he said. “Pretty much any call that we [police] go to is not going to be the same as the last. But we do look back at what we could have done differently.”
James said he hopes people will take time out of their day this week to perform at least one extra act of kindness in his Bachmann’s memory, and Christy Northcliffe expressed gratitude for the support her family has received.
“I want to thank everybody for supporting our family,” she said. “And I would ask them to look at gun responsibility. I can say that hate doesn’t stop the violence — it’s understanding and love. I want people to remember that Chris was a kind, intelligent, sweet person; a great father and wonderful friend.”