Police: 5 officers dead, 7 hurt in Dallas protest shooting

Dallas was in shock and beset by uncertainty early Friday after gunmen shot and killed five police officers and wounded seven during a peaceful protest over fatal police shootings of black men in other states, police said, in bloodshed evoking the trauma of the nation's tumultuous civil rights era.

Police Chief David Brown blamed "snipers" and said three suspects were in custody while a fourth had exchanged gunfire with authorities in a parking garage downtown and told negotiators he intended to hurt more law enforcement officials.

Advertisement

Early Friday, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said the fourth suspect had died.

"We don't exactly know the last moments of his death but explosives did blast him out," Rawlings told The Associated Press.

He said police swept the area where the standoff took place and found no explosives.

Police did not identify any of the suspects or mention a possible motive.

The shooting began about 8:45 p.m. Thursday while hundreds of people were gathered to protest the fatal police shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and suburban St. Paul, Minnesota. Brown told reporters the snipers fired "ambush style" on the officers. A civilian was also wounded, Rawlings said.

Brown said it appeared the shooters "planned to injure and kill as many officers as they could." Video from the scene showed protesters marching along a downtown street about half a mile from City Hall when shots erupted and the crowd scattered, seeking cover.

The attacks made Thursday the deadliest day for U.S. law officers since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which tracks on-duty deaths.

It also drew a comparison with the November day in 1963 when a U.S. president was slaughtered by a sniper on a Dallas street only a few blocks away.

"I think the biggest thing that we've had something like this is when JFK died," resident Jalisa Jackson downtown said early Friday as struggled to fathom the still-unsettled situation. Officers crouched beside vehicles, SWAT team armored vehicles arrived and a helicopter hovered overhead.

Protests were held in several other U.S. cities Thursday night after a Minnesota officer on Wednesday fatally shot Philando Castile while he was in a car with a woman and a child, the shooting's aftermath livestreamed 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.

Thursday's shootings occurred in area of hotels, restaurants, businesses and some residential apartments only a few blocks from Dealey Plaza, where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

The scene was chaotic, with officers with automatic rifles on the street corners.

"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.

Brown said police don't have a motivation for the attacks or any information on the suspects. He said they "triangulated" in the downtown area where the protesters were marching and had "some knowledge of the route" they would take.

Video posted on social media appeared to show a gunman at ground level exchanging fire with a police officer who was then felled.

Authorities have not determined whether any protesters were involved with or were complicit in the attack and were not certain early Friday that all suspects have been located, Brown said.

Rawlings said at the news conference that authorities will likely ask some people to stay away from downtown Dallas on Friday. Rawlings said a map would be posted online showing an area where people should avoid on Friday.

Early Friday morning, there were dozens of officers of the corridor of the ER at Baylor Medical Center, where other injured officers were taken. The mayor and police chief were seen arriving there.

Four of the officers who were killed were with the Dallas Police Department, a spokesman said. One was a Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer. The agency said in a statement that 43-year-old officer Brent Thompson was the first officer killed in the line of duty since the agency formed a police department in 1989.

"Our hearts are broken," the statement said.

Theresa Williams told The Associated Press that the injured civilian was her sister, 37-year-old Shetamia Taylor.

Williams said her sister was at the protests Thursday night with her four sons, ages 12 to 17.

When the shooting began, Taylor threw herself over her sons, Williams said. She was undergoing surgery early Friday after being shot in the right calf.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement saying he has 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.

Other protests across the U.S. on Thursday were peaceful. 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!" In Minnesota, where Castile was shot, hundreds of protesters marched in the rain from a vigil to the governor's official residence. Protesters also marched in Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia.

President Barack Obama said America is "horrified" over the shootings and there's no possible justification for the attacks.

Speaking from Warsaw, Poland, where he was meeting with leaders of the European Union and attending a NATO summit, the president said justice will be done and he's asking all Americans to pray for the fallen officers and their families. He also said the nation should express its gratitude to those serving in law enforcement.

___

Associated Press writers Jamie Stengle, Paul Weber and Emily Schmall in Dallas; Amy Shafer, Sarah Rankin and Benjamin Dashley in Chicago; and Kathleen Hennessey in Warsaw, Poland, contributed to this report.

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The Most Rev Bishop Michael Curry, primate of the Episcopal Church, speaks during the wedding ceremony of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle in Windsor, near London, England, Saturday, May 19, 2018. (Owen Humphreys/pool photo via AP)
Fabricated and impersonal, too many Catholic preachers hide themselves, forgetting that personality matters in preaching,
In this image made from video, Archbishop Philip Wilson, center, heads to Newcastle Local Court, north of Sydney, Australia Tuesday, May 22, 2018. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation via AP)
Philip Wilson was found guilty of failing to inform police about allegations of the sexual abuse of minors by a priest in the 1970s.
Gerard O’ConnellMay 22, 2018
The Holy Spirit might be the forgotten person of the Holy Trinity.
James Martin, S.J.May 21, 2018
Pope Francis walks past cardinals as he leaves a consistory in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican June 28, 2017. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis is trying to ensure that those who elect his successor are humble men committed to “a church of the poor and for the poor.”
Gerard O’ConnellMay 21, 2018