Police: 5 officers dead, 7 wounded in Dallas ambush shooting
Dallas Police respond after shots were fired at a Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Dallas on Thursday, July 7, 2016. Dallas protestors rallied in the aftermath of the killing of Alton Sterling by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisana. and Philando Castile, who was killed by police less than 48 hours later in Minnesota. | Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News
Terry Wallace | Associated Press
DALLAS — Snipers opened fire on police officers in the heart of Dallas, killing five officers and injuring seven others during protests over two recent fatal police shootings of black men, police said.
Three people were in custody, and one suspect died after exchanging gunfire in a parking garage downtown with police, who used explosives to end the standoff. The suspect told police he was upset about the recent police shootings of black people and wanted to kill white people and police officers, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said 12 officers and 2 civilians were shot during the downtown protest march.
President Barack Obama on Friday called the ambush “a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement” in Dallas and vowed to bring the people responsible to justice.
It is believed to be the deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The gunfire broke out around 8:45 p.m. Thursday while hundreds of people were gathered to protest fatal police shootings this week in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and suburban St. Paul, Minnesota. Brown told reporters the snipers fired “ambush style” upon the officers.
Protests also were held in several other cities across the country 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 aftermath of the shooting was 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.
Video footage from the Dallas scene showed protesters were marching along a street in downtown, about half a mile from City Hall, when the shots erupted and the crowd scattered, seeking cover.
Brown said that it appeared the shooters “planned to injure and kill as many officers as they could.”
The search for the shooters stretched throughout downtown, an area of hotels, restaurants, businesses and some residential apartments. The scene was chaotic, with helicopters hovering overhead and officers with automatic rifles on the street corners.
A mother covers her children as Dallas police respond to shots being 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. Five officers were killed, police said. | Maria R. Olivas/The Dallas Morning News via AP
“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.”
One woman was taken into custody in the same parking garage where the standoff was ongoing, Brown said. Two others were taken into custody during a traffic stop.
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. He said authorities have not determined whether any protesters were involved with or were complicit in the attack.
Police 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.
“This is still an active crime scene. We’re determining how big that crime scene is,” the mayor said.
A map will be posted online showing an area which people should avoid on Friday, he said.
The FBI’s Dallas division is providing “all possible assistance,” spokeswoman Allison Mahan said.
Carlos Harris, who lives downtown, told the newspaper that the shooters “were strategic. It was tap, tap pause. Tap, tap pause.”
Demonstrator Brittaney Peete told The Associated Press that she didn’t hear the gunshots, but she “saw people rushing back toward me saying there was an active shooter.”
Peete said she saw a woman trip and nearly get trampled.
Late Thursday, Dallas police in uniform and in plainclothes were standing behind a police line at the entrance to the emergency room at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas. It was unclear how many injured officers were taken there. The hospital spokeswoman, Julie Smith, had no immediate comment.
Three of the officers who were killed were with the Dallas Police Department. One was a Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer. Police announced the fifth officer’s death early Friday morning. It wasn’t immediately clear to which department that officer belonged.
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.
Dallas Police respond after shots were fired at a Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Dallas on Thursday, July 7, 2016. | Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News