Sniper Kills 5 Dallas Officers at Protest

     DALLAS (CN) – A sniper killed five Dallas police officers and wounded seven more at the end of a peaceful protest against police brutality Thursday night in what Mayor Mike Rawlings calls the city’s “worst nightmare.”
     Dallas Police Chief David Brown confirmed Friday morning that the suspect is dead: he was killed by a bomb robot. He denied that the suspect committed suicide.
     “We tried to negotiate for several hours and it failed,” Brown said. “Our bomb robot detonated a bomb where the suspect was. … Other options would have subjected officers to great danger.”
     Brown added: “He was upset about the recent police shootings, he said he was upset at white people. He said he wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers. He stated he was not affiliated with any groups, and he stated he did this alone.”
     Police identified the dead suspect as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, of Mesquite, on Friday morning. Mesquite police quickly executed a search warrant at the home of Johnson’s mother. U.S. Department of Defense officials confirmed Johnson previously served in the Army Reserve.
     Three suspects were taken into custody within hours of the shooting, but investigators now believe that Johnson acted alone.
     “A suspicious package was discovered near this suspect’s location,” Dallas police tweeted. “The package is being secured by DPD bomb squad.”
          Police arrested two people during a traffic stop of a Mercedes at Interstate 35E and Kiest Boulevard after the shootings.
     “A DPD officer observed an individual carrying a camouflaged bag, walked quickly down Lamar Street,” police tweeted. “The individual threw the bag in the back of a black Mercedes and the Mercedes sped off at a high rate of speed.”
     Teams of police in tactical gear could be seen from the street clearing and securing every room inside the community college complex, as well as each floor of the parking garage.
     Approximately 800 people were marching east on Commerce Street near the central business district at the end of the protest at 9 p.m. when at least 20 gunshots from high-caliber weapons were heard. Eyewitnesses said the shots targeted police at the perimeter of the protesters.
     Dallas Area Rapid Transit identified one of the victims as Officer Brent Thompson, 43, the first officer killed in the agency’s history. Dallas police had yet to announce the identities of its four slain officers early Friday morning.
     The protest in Dallas was one of many throughout the nation in the wake of two high-profile killings of black men by police in recent days. A video of an unarmed Alton Sterling being shot to death by Baton Rouge police went viral on Tuesday.
     One day later, a video of Philando Castile after being shot and killed by police during a traffic stop in suburban Minneapolis went viral.
     Fighting back tears, Mayor Rawlings asked citizens to focus on the police, their families, the deceased and those in the hospital.
     “We have one of the best police forces in the nation,” he said. “We have done the right things regarding civil rights … Please, let’s come together as a city.”
     Rawlings declined to answer questions about the shooting Friday morning.
     “We have got a criminal investigation going on and our No. 1 job is to keep the city safe,” he said. “So we will not answer any questions about the suspects.”
     A 36-block area downtown remained closed Friday morning as officers processed the sizable crime scene.
     In a disturbing viral video shot from a nearby building, one of four known suspects was dressed in tan long-sleeved top and white pants. He is seen firing a long rifle outside an entrance at El Centro College at an unknown target across the street. A police officer engages the suspect from behind and hides behind a pillar for cover. The suspect is shown running around the other side of the pillar and shooting the officer dead from behind.
     Brown had briefed reporters around midnight about negotiations with the suspect at a parking garage across the street.
     “This suspect we are negotiating with is exchanging gunfire with us and not being very cooperative,” Brown said. “He said that the ‘end is coming’ and that he is going to kill and hurt more of us and that there are more bombs in the garage and downtown.”
     U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch expressed her gratitude to law enforcement at a Friday press conference, saying “our hearts are broken” by their loss.
     Asking citizens to “turn to each other instead of against each other,” Lynch promised that “this is not the new normal.”
     She said her agency is working closely with state and local officials “to help heal a community that has been deeply shaken and scarred by an unfathomable tragedy.”
     “Americans are feeling helplessness, uncertainty and fear, but the answer must not be violence, the answer is never violence,” Lynch said. “The answer must be action. we must continue to guarantee every person in this country equal protection under the law.”
     Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was at the scene of the shooting early Friday morning. He described the attack as “horrific” and “calculated.”
     “I have directed my office to provide all necessary resources to support the efforts of law enforcement to investigate, prosecute and hold accountable those responsible for last night’s horrific attack,” Paxton said in a statement. “The loss of the five officers in Dallas in the line of duty is a somber reminder of the heroic sacrifices these brave men and women perform each day to keep us safe. Today, we must all come together to honor their selfless service and sacrifice.”
     President Barack Obama is in Warsaw, Poland, this morning, but ordered U.S. flags flown at half-staff in honor of the victims. The order remains in effect until sunset July 12.
     He denounced the killings as a “vicious, despicable, and calculated attack” on police.
     “I think I speak for every single American when I say that we are horrified,” Obama said.
     Presumptive presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton canceled campaign rallies scheduled for Friday after the attack. Trump called the attack a “horrific, execution-style” shooting.
     “We must restore law and order,” Trump tweeted. “We must restore the confidence of our people to be safe and secure in their homes and on the street.”
     Clinton tweeted she mourns for the deceased officers who were “doing their sacred duty” protecting protesters.
     Possible Virginia gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart has since deleted a post on Facebook assigning political blame for the attack.”Liberal politicians who label police as racists – specifically Hillary Clinton and Virginia Lt. Governor Ralph Northam – are to blame for essentially encouraging the murder of these police officers tonight,” Stewart wrote.
     The attack on Dallas police comes one year after a Mesquite man riddled police headquarters with hundreds of bullets and set bombs, then shot at pursuing police cars as he drove away in an armored van.
     James Lance Boulware, 35, reportedly blamed police for the loss of his son in a custody battle. He was killed hours later by a police sniper in a Jack in the Box parking lot in Hutchins.
     Police officers asked the city for more security after the attack, including bulletproof glass, 24-hour video surveillance at headquarters and securely fenced parking lots at all police stations.
     Photo caption 1:
     Dallas police respond after shots were fired during a protest over recent fatal shootings by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, Thursday, July 7, 2016, in Dallas. Snipers opened fire on police officers during protests; several officers were killed, police said. (Maria R. Olivas/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
     Photo caption 2:
     Police and others gather at the emergency entrance to Baylor Medical Center in Dallas, where several police officers were taken after shootings Thursday, July 7, 2016.. (AP Photo/Emily Schmall)

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