Officers identify suspect in shootings during Dallas protest against police violence

BY and    | Updated: Jul 8, 2016 at 1:14 PM
Dallas police detain a driver after several police officers were shot in downtown Dallas, Thursday, July 7, 2016. Snipers apparently shot police officers during protests and some of the officers are dead, the city's police chief said in a statement. Photo via AP Photo/LM Otero

Dallas police detain a driver after several police officers were shot in downtown Dallas, Thursday, July 7, 2016. Snipers apparently shot police officers during protests and some of the officers are dead, the city’s police chief said in a statement. Photo via AP Photo/LM Otero

Twelve police officers were shot, five fatally, in Dallas late Thursday near the scene of protests against police violence, according to multiple news reports. Two civilians were also wounded.

Officers engaged in a standoff and traded gunfire with a suspect inside a downtown parking garage, the Dallas Police Department said early Friday.Shortly after sunrise on Friday, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings confirmed this suspect was killed after officers used explosives to “blast him out.”

The mayor also said a dozen officers were shot during the incident, the Associated Press reported.

As negotiations deteriorated with one of the suspects, he told officers he wanted to kill white people, held no group affiliations and that the Black Lives Matter movement and recent police shootings upset him, said Dallas Police Department Chief David Brown, adding that the suspect told officers they would eventually find explosives. Brown said the suspect did not commit suicide as some reports suggested. Fearing more lives could be endangered, Dallas police ended the standoff by attaching explosives to a bomb robot and detonating them near the suspect.

“We’re not going to let a coward who would ambush police officers change our democracy,” Brown said during the Friday news conference.

The suspect was identified Friday as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, a man with no criminal history or ties to terrorism, the Associated Press reported. The U.S. Army confirmed that Johnson had been an enlisted member of the military who served in Afghanistan.

The incident started Thursday around 8:45 p.m. CDT, according to the Associated Press, in downtown Dallas as hundreds marched in dissent of the fatal police shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Falcon Heights, Minnesota. The gunfire broke out near Market and Main streets, The Dallas Morning News reported, not far from John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza. The shooting started as the protesters, who had been otherwise peaceful, began to disperse.

Mayor Rawlings mourned the loss of the officers early Friday. “To say that our police officers put their life on the line everyday is no hyperbole, ladies and gentlemen,” Rawlings said.

Early on, Police Chief David Brown said three Dallas officers and one DART officer were killed in the shooting, adding that three suspects were in custody, including one woman. Two of the suspects were apprehended after trying to leave the area in a car. In an initial statement, Brown said two additional officers are in surgery, and three are in critical condition. A fifth officer died early Thursday morning.

Alleged video of the shootings spread quickly on Twitter and Facebook.

Editor’s note: This video contains foul language

SWAT team members were called to the scene and police searched the city for the gunmen, combing through hotels, restaurants, businesses and residential apartments, the Dallas Morning News reported. Dallas Police Major Max Geron tweeted before sunrise Friday that primary and secondary sweeps found no explosives at the scene.

“This is a very emotional time for our department and across country as it relates to this incident. We are reaching out to families,” Brown said at a news conference. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a directive to the Texas Department of Public Safety director, offering “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 in a statement.

This story will be updated.

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