A protest on Thursday night in downtown Dallas over the recent police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota descended into chaos when at least one gunman opened fire, killing and wounding multiple police officers.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said Friday that 12 officers were shot, five fatally. Eight of the injured cops worked with Dallas police and the remaining four were members of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) police department. The seven injured officers have been released from the hospital. At least two civilians were also wounded.
Dallas police chief David Brown said the officers were shot "ambush style" in the attack, which occurred just a few blocks from where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Initially, authorities reported that at least two "snipers" had shot at the cops from elevated positions, but Mayor Rawlings and Chief Brown said Friday morning that they would not be providing any further details on potential suspects or individuals they have questioned.
"We've got a criminal investigation going on and our number one job is to make sure the citizens of Dallas are safe, so we're not going to tell you anything about the suspects," Rawlings said. "We will when it's the right time, and now is not the right time."
During an earlier press conference just after midnight on Friday, Brown said police believe there were multiple shooters who were "triangulated at different positions and different points in the downtown area."
One suspect was killed after an hours-long standoff in a parking garage, during which he shot at police and claimed to have explosives. Chief Brown said they employed a hostage negotiator and used a device for detecting bombs. According to the police chief, negotiations fell apart and the suspect died early Friday morning after a bomb was detonated.
"We don't exactly know the last moments of his death, but explosives did blast him out," Rawlings told the Associated Press.
Brown said the suspects in custody have not been cooperative, and that investigators are still working to determine a motive. He said it seemed like the gunmen "planned to injure and kill as many officers as they could."
"We're waiting for the suspects to break and let us know what they were doing," the chief said.
In the press conference on Friday morning, Brown said the suspect who died in the parking garage told police he was upset about Black Lives Matter and the recent shootings of black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota. The suspect said he "wanted to kill white people," especially white police officers, Brown told reporters. He also claimed he acted alone.
The first gunshots rang out at around 8:45pm local time. Videos from the scene showed the panicked crowd attempting to flee.
Dozens of gunshots could be heard on another video that showed police officers scrambling to respond and taking cover behind vehicles.
The Dallas Morning News mapped the location of the protest and where shots were fired.
Shortly after the gunfire started, police released a photo of a "person of interest," a man wearing a camouflage shirt and carrying a rifle.
Soon after the image was released, however, activist Cory Hughes told local news broadcaster CBS-DFW that the person pictured is his younger brother Mark, who was participating in the protest. Texas is an "open carry" state, with gun laws that allow members of the public to carry rifles at demonstrations and elsewhere.
Hughes said his brother surrendered his rifle to police shortly after the gunfire erupted, and video footage later surfaced that appeared to corroborate his account.
Facebook video of DPD's original person of interest, handing over his weapon to authorities Via facebook live videohttps://t.co/hDmeV6T4sz
— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) July 8, 2016
Hughes posted on Twitter to say he was at the police station with his younger brother, who he said "had nothing to do with this."
The incident in Dallas came amid protests nationwide over recent shootings of black men by police. On Wednesday, Philando Castile was fatally shot by police while he was in a car with his partner and a child in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. Footage of the aftermath of the incident was viewed by millions on Facebook. A day earlier, police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, shot Alton Sterling while he was pinned to the pavement. That incident was captured on cellphone videos and widely shared.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a statement saying he had directed the Texas Department of Public Safety director to offer "whatever assistance the City of Dallas needs at this time."
"In times like this we must remember — and emphasize — the importance of uniting as Americans," Abbott said.
President Barack Obama spoke about the deadly shooting from Poland, saying he had been in touch with Mayor Rawlings and that the federal government would be on hand to help.
"I believe I speak for every single American when I say that we are horrified over these events and we are united with the people and police department in Dallas," Obama said.
The president firmly avoided jumping to any conclusions about the violence.
"We still don't know all of the facts. What we do know is that there has been a vicious, calculated, and despicable attack on law enforcement," Obama said.
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