A black man who expressed anger over recent police shootings has opened fire at a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Dallas, killing five police officers and injuring seven others, authorities say. The suspect was killed after an hours-long standoff.
The attack happened at about 9 p.m. CT near the end of a Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Dallas. About 800 people had taken to the street to protest the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota.
The protests were peaceful until the shooting began. Dallas Police chief David Brown said the suspect wanted to “kill white people” and had expressed anger over recent police shootings involving African-Americans. Brown would not provide any information on other suspects, but added that the gunman said he had acted alone and was not part of a group.
A state official identified the gunman as Micah Xavier Johnson, a 25-year-old man who was described as a recluse and had no prior criminal record. Johnson was killed when police sent in a robot and detonated an explosive device following an hours-long standoff with police.
“The suspect said he was upset about Black Lives Matter,” Chief Brown said. “He was upset about the recent shootings. The suspect said he was upset at white people. The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.”
Shots were fired from elevated positions near the rally, specifically targeting the more than 100 police officers who were assigned to protect the rally. The gunfire prompted hundreds of people to flee in panic.
“At 8:58, our worst nightmare happened,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said at a press conference. He confirmed that 14 people were shot, including 12 police officers and 2 civilians. Of those, at least five police officers were killed and several others remain in hospital but are expected to live. Some of the victims were shot in the back, he said.
“We believe that these suspects were positioning themselves in a way to triangulate on these officers from two different perches in garages in the downtown area and planned to injure and kill as many law enforcement officers as they could,” Chief David Brown said.
After the shootings, police cornered two suspects on the second floor of the parking garage at El Centro College in downtown Dallas. Police were negotiating with them until just after 11 p.m. CT, when gunfire erupted at the garage and one suspect – a woman – was taken into custody.
The standoff continued for several more hours until just after 2 a.m. CT, when reports indicated that the second suspect was killed after police sent in a robot and detonated an explosive. Police did not immediately provide further information, but units began leaving the scene.
Two additional suspects were arrested after their vehicle was pulled over near the downtown area. Their involvement in the attack, if any, remains unclear.
At one point, Dallas Police also released a photo of an armed man described as a person of interest, but he later turned himself in to police without incident. The man was later released and is no longer considered to be a suspect.
At a news conference on Friday morning, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch condemned the shooting and stressed that “the answer is never violence,” but “calm, peaceful, collaborative, and determined action.” She said the Department of Justice would provide Dallas officials with every resource necessary to fully investigate the matter and to heal a community in mourning.