America was reeling today at the news that at least one sniper wielding a rifle had shot and killed five law enforcement officers in downtown Dallas Thursday night during a protest of this week’s controversial police shootings of African-American men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
It was the deadliest day for law officers since Sept. 11, 2001, when 72 officers died. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings called it “our worst nightmare,” reports the Dallas Morning News. Seven other officers were wounded, three of them critically.
A sniper, who exchanged gunfire with police in a downtown parking garage, was killed at about 3 a.m. when a police robot detonated an explosive device after negotiations broke down. Authorities said the man told negotiators that he was upset over the recent police shootings of African-Americans and “wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.” Media sources identified him as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, of Mesquite, Texas. Johnson, a veteran of the U.S. Army, apparently had no criminal record or known ties to terrorism.
“He has told our negotiators that the end is coming and he’s going to hurt and kill more of us, meaning law enforcement,” said Police Chief David Brown.
Authorities now believe he was the lone gunman, after earlier reports suggested there were two snipers.
Later Friday morning, Brown said, “We’re hurting, our profession is hurting. There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city. All I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens.”
The shooting happened at about 9 p.m. in a downtown section filled with hotels, restaurants and government buildings. About 1,000 people participated in the protest, which was winding down.
The shooter opened fire from an elevated position in what police described as a well-planned ambush that targeted white uniformed police officers. Brown said the sniper must have had some advance knowledge of the march route. Once again, horrific videos of the scene circulated widely on social media.
President Obama, speaking in Poland, called it “a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement.”