DALLAS — A sniper shot and killed five Dallas police officers and wounded seven others Thursday night during a peaceful protest over the recent fatal police shootings of black men in other cities.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told media that officials believe 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson, who died in a standoff with police officers, was the only shooter.
“We believe, given the facts we have today, that Mr. Johnson, now deceased, was the lone shooter,” he said.
Police Chief David Brown said Johnson said he wanted to kill white people, particularly white officers.
Johnson was killed in a parking garage when police detonated an explosive about four hours after the attack began. Authorities said the explosive was attached to a robot to protect officers.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said officials were not ruling out that others may have known about Johnson’s plan or helped him in some way.
Three suspects were arrested but later cleared.
“There has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement,” President Barack Obama said in an early-morning Friday address from Poland.
“We are horrified over these events,” the president said.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Friday morning, “The answer (to frustration) is never violence.”
One of the officers killed worked for the Dallas Area Rapid Transit. He has been identified as 43-year-old Brent Thompson. According to the Dallas Morning News, he joined the department in 2009.
Three of the injured officers also worked for DART.
The Dallas shooting was the deadliest day for law enforcement since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The number of dead officers could rise as multiple were in critical condition. Police also said one civilian had been shot.
ABC News reported some of the officers were shot in the back.
Brown said they believed Johnson threatened to plant a bomb in the downtown area. Police found a suspicious package near the suspect involved in the shootout, and it was secured by the bomb squad.
Two more were reportedly found nearby and police were working to secure those. A sweep for more devices was expected to take hours.
Brown said in an early Friday morning press conference that officers were involved in a shootout in a second-floor garage with Johnson and were trying to negotiate with him. Johnson told police that he was going to kill more officers, and that there were bombs located all around the garage and around downtown Dallas.
That shootout ended about 1 a.m. Arizona time, when Johnson died.
The gunfire broke out around 8:45 p.m. Live TV video showed protesters marching along a street in downtown when the shots erupted and the crowd scattered, seeking cover.
“Everyone just started running,” Devante Odom, 21, told the Dallas Morning News. “We lost touch with two of our friends just trying to get out of there.”
Carlos Harris, who lives downtown, told the newspaper that the shooters “were strategic. It was tap, tap, pause. Tap, tap, pause,” he said.
Scores of police and security officers were on hand. Police and others hunched behind cars outside a parking garage. Officers with guns drawn were running near and into the parking garage as police searched for the shooter.
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Downtown Dallas was expected to be shut down for the investigation on Friday.
Friday classes were canceled at nearby El Centro College. The facility was already on lockdown prior to the protest and both staff and students were kept inside for hours while the shooting situation unfolded.
The gunshots in Dallas came amid protests nationwide over the recent police shootings.
On Wednesday, a Minnesota officer fatally shot Philando Castile while he was in a car with a woman and a child in a St. Paul suburb. The aftermath of the shooting was purportedly live streamed in a widely shared Facebook video.
A day earlier, Alton Sterling was shot in Louisiana after being pinned to the pavement by two white officers. That, too, was captured on a cellphone video.
In midtown Manhattan, protesters first gathered in Union Square Park, where they chanted “The people united, never be divided!” and “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now!”
A group of protesters then left the park and began marching up Fifth Avenue blocking traffic during the height of rush hour as police scrambled to keep up.
Another group headed through Herald Square and Times Square where several arrests were reported.
Michael Houston, a 20-year-old Brooklyn student, said anger and lack of action brought him to the protest. “It’s the definition of insanity,” Houston said. “How can we expect anything to be different when nothing changes.”
Lawrence Amsterdam, 35, another student from Brooklyn, decried what he called the police injustice. “It’s supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. But the way I see it, it’s murder first and ask questions later,” Amsterdam said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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