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Dallas, rattled by police murders, had made strides in community policing

More emerged Friday about Micah Johnson, the Army reservist believed to be behind the sniper slayings of five Dallas police officers in a city that was, by all accounts, making strides in cop/community relations. Until this week’s tragedy, the Dallas Police Department had the fewest officer-related shootings of any large U.S. city this year. Hari Sreenivasan reports from Dallas.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    This has been a day of great tragedy in a city that has known great tragedy before.

    Last night's sniper ambush in Dallas left five police officers dead, the worst loss for American law enforcement since 9/11. It happened just blocks from where President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

    Hari Sreenivasan begins our coverage from Dallas.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    A barrage of gunfire, the wail of police sirens, signals that downtown Dallas had morphed into a combat zone. The shooting sent hundreds of people running for their lives. They had been peacefully marching against fatal police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana.

  • JASON MCDANIEL, Dallas Resident:

    They just started going off, I mean, just, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow. And then everybody started running everywhere. As we were leaving, we heard the automatic fire, the dah, dah, dah, dah, the back-to-back fire. And it was — it just was wild.

  • MAN:

    Somebody's really armed to the teeth.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    The horror was quickly up on social media for the world to see. A gunman was spotted shooting a rifle at police from behind a pillar.

    Later, officers cornered a suspect in a nearby parking garage. After four hours of failed negotiations, police detonated a bomb on a robotic vehicle, killing the man.

  • Dallas Police Chief David Brown:

  • DAVID BROWN, Chief, Dallas Police Department:

    He said he was upset about the recent police shootings. The suspect said he was upset at white people. The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Investigators identified him as Micah Johnson of Mesquite, Texas. He had served six years in the Army Reserve, with one tour in Afghanistan. He told police he had acted alone, and organizers of the Dallas protest said they had never heard of him.

    The Black Lives Matter movement issued a statement on its main Twitter page, saying it — quote — "advocates dignity, justice and freedom, not murder."

    Authorities initially said three suspects were in custody. They gave no other details as the day went on. Meanwhile, much of downtown Dallas was cordoned off as a crime scene, although officials did allow a prayer vigil. And police Chief Brown appealed for support and unity.

  • DAVID BROWN:

    All I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens. We don't feel much support most days. Let's not make today most days.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Until last night, the Dallas Police Department had the fewest number of officer-related shootings of any American city this year. Still, this city of 1.3 million people is rattled, and wondering what comes next.

    Some of those concerned residents were at Elaine's Kitchen in South Dallas.

  • WALTER REED, Dallas Resident:

    You never know what kind of police is going to pull behind you. And same way, you know, I don't know what's on the minds of anybody that wants to cause a harm to a police officer, because if they can kill one person, they can kill any person.

  • CHERRUNDA WHITE, Dallas Resident:

    For some people, they see things, what's going on in the world, and think, I guess, they can take it into their own hands or retaliate, but, of course, violence isn't the answer.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings called for calm today, and he vowed greater protection for police in the future.

    The Dallas killings echoed around the world as well. President Obama got the news in Poland at a NATO summit.

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    Let's be clear. There is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement. The FBI is already in touch with the Dallas police, and anyone involved in these senseless murders will be held fully accountable.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    In Washington, Democrat John Lewis of Georgia and the Congressional Black Caucus made an appeal for reconciliation.

    REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), Georgia: I really believe that we must come to that point in our country where we respect the dignity and the worth of every human being. We can do it. But leaders must lead.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    And Attorney General Loretta Lynch also sought to reassure the country, after the tumult of recent days.

  • LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. Attorney General:

    Do not let this week precipitate a new normal in this country. I ask you to turn to each other, not against each other, as we move forward.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Elsewhere, protesters did stand united last night, marching peacefully in New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia to demand justice for black victims killed by police.

    There was even one in Washington, D.C., last night before I headed home, Judy, that we stopped by, and streamed on Facebook live.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    So, Hari, I know you have been learning more this evening about this sniper, this gunman. What have you been able to learn?

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    We knew that the 25-year-old had been in the Army Reserve. We knew now — we know now during the day that he was — also had a tour in Afghanistan.

    But what we're also learning is that, according to police, that he had been plotting this for quite some time. At his home, they found a detailed combat journal. They found a lot bomb-making material. They found ammunition and rifles. This is according to the police chief today.

    Again, they don't think that there are any known ties to international organizations or even black nationalist organizations, but this is a picture that is going to be filled in more and more over the next couple of days.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    So, Hari, I know you have only been there today, but what is your sense of how the community is dealing with this and what are you learning about the relations there between the people and the police force?

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    You know, I used to live here for a few years back when I worked for another network, but one of the things that was interesting is that this is a police department that's actually made significant strides in trying to enforce community policing, trying to get in touch with their communities.

    Over the last several years, they have decreased the number of officer-related incidents of violence. They have decreased the number of arrests. They have decreased the number of complaints of use of force. This is, by all measures throughout the country, this is a force that's trying to do things right.

    There is actually a greater deal of trust between the Dallas Police Department and the citizens here than there was 10 years ago.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Which is what makes it so ironic.

    Hari Sreenivasan, reporting for us from Dallas, we thank you.

    Police reported attacks in three more states today after the Dallas ambush. They said a suspect in Valdosta, Georgia, ambushed an officer who answered a 911 call. Both were wounded. A suburban Saint Louis man critically wounded a policeman during a traffic stop. And in Bristol, Tennessee, officers wounded a suspect after he fired at them.

    The events in Dallas drew quick reactions from the presidential candidates.

    Republican Donald Trump said, in a statement: "It is a coordinated, premeditated assault on the men and women who keep us safe. We must restore law and order."

    And Democrat Hillary Clinton said in a tweet: "I mourn for the officers shot while doing their sacred duty to protect peaceful protesters."

    We will have an interview with Secretary Clinton right after the news summary.

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