Friday, July 08, 2016

11 Officers Shot, 4 Dead, SWAT in Standoff After Shooting
By Claire Z. Cardona Follow @clairezcardona
Breaking News Producer, Dallas News
08 July 2016 01:34 AM

What we know so far

*  3 Dallas police officers, one DART officer killed

*  Seven officers and one civilian wounded

* Dallas police are engaged in a shootout with a man in the El Centro garage who threatened to kill more officers and said bombs were spread throughout the garage

* A woman near the shootout in the garage is in custody and a person of interest turned himself  in to police

Snipers fatally shot three Dallas police officers and one DART officer, and wounded several others as a demonstration against shootings of black men by police wrapped up Thursday night.

Dallas police Chief David Brown said about 8:58 p.m., at least two snipers shot 11 officers and one civilian from elevated positions with rifles during the rally in downtown.

Two officers were in surgery earlier in the night and three were in critical condition, police said.

Three other DART officers were wounded but their injuries were not believed to be life-threatening, said Morgan Lyons, a spokesman for DART.

The officers were shot "ambush style," Brown said, with some shot in the back.

"Give our officers strength to catch these suspects and bring them to justice tonight," he said.

About 1:20 a.m., an explosion went off at El Centro. It was unclear whether police detonated a suspicious package they found earlier or if it was something else, such as a flashbang intended to distract the suspect who remained in the parking garage.

At a 12:30 a.m. news conference, Brown said officers had been exchanging gunfire for 45 minutes with a man the garage who was not cooperating.

"He has told our negotiators that the end is coming and he's going to hurt and kill more of us --meaning law enforcement -- and that there are bombs all over the place in this garage and in downtown," Brown said.

A woman who was in the same area as the man in the standoff was taken into custody, he said.

He said police aren't certain they have all the suspects.

People are encouraged to stay away from downtown. Those who work in the area should check to check to see if their buildings will be open Friday.

Brown said he was proud to "be a part of this great noble profession," and to see the courage of the officers, some of whom ran toward gunfire to help the injured.

Mayor Mike Rawlings called for unity amid the tragedy.

"We as a city, we as a country must come together, lock arms and heal the wounds that we all feel from time to time," he said. "Words matter, leadership matters at this time. I'm proud of our chief."

Rawlings asked for everyone to focus on the officers, their families and those fighting for their lives.

"It is a heartbreaking morning to lose these four officers who proudly served our citizens," Rawlings said. "To say that our police officers put their lives on the line every day is no hyperbole, ladies and gentlemen, it's a reality."

About 11:30 p.m., a person of interest in a photo circulated by the city and Dallas police turned himself in, police said.

Another alleged suspect in a shootout with Dallas SWAT officers was taken into custody, police said.

A suspicious package was discovered near the location of the suspect in the shootout and is being secured by the Dallas police bomb squad.

Earlier in the night, Brown said at one suspect was cornered on the second floor of the El Centro parking garage, Brown said.

Shortly before midnight, a Dallas police officer saw an individual carrying a camouflaged bag, walking quickly down Lamar Street. The person threw the bag in the back of a black Mercedes which then sped off, police said.

Officers followed the vehicle southbound on Interstate 35E and performed a traffic stop at I-35E and Kiest Boulevard, police said.

Police questioned both occupants of the vehicle and they were released, KXAS-TV (NBC5) reported.

The shooting victims were taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital and Baylor University Medical Center, KXAS-TV (NBC5).

Anyone with information about the shootings is asked to call Dallas police at 214-671-3485 and submit tips to

Brown has long touted strong police-community relations in the city.  Protests and rallies have typically been peaceful.

Thursday night's shooting will strain an already tight Dallas police force. Since October, 195 officers have left the Dallas Police Department. Many of those have retired, but more than 50 officers left to work at other police agencies.

In recent months, many officers have been working overtime and non-patrol officers have filled patrol shifts to respond to calls.

Bystanders reported hearing multiple shots fired shortly before 9 p.m. in the area of Market and Main streets.

People are being asked to leave the immediate downtown area, some are walking and others are running. People are sheltering in place in buildings around downtown. Police were clearing floors of the Omni Hotel, but they were allowed to return about 30 minutes later.

KDFW-TV (Channel 4) reports that crime scene tape is up at Baylor where multiple police units are on scene. There is also a heavy police presence at Parkland.

After injured officers were rushed to area hospitals, five DART officers gathered in a downtown hotel where they watched updates on an upstairs television.

They declined to comment on the night's events. After the suspect was reported to be in custody, they walked together back outside, solemn faced, and headed south on North Lamar Street toward a police barricade on Elm Street.

DART has suspended all bus and rail service in downtown. TRE service will stop at Victory Station.

El Centro College's main campus in the 800 block of Main Street was placed on lockdown. All classes are canceled for Friday.

Gunfire could be heard late Thursday night at El Centro, WFAA-TV (Channel 8) reported.

"Everyone just started running," said Devante Odom, 21. "We lost touch with two of our friends just trying to get out of there."

Stay-at-home mom Renee Sifflet of Dallas stood at the corner of Commerce and Houston, waiting for the chaos to die down so she could retrieve her three teenage kids, who were in hiding.

"I brought them here for a positive experience, something they could say they were part of when they're older, " she said. "Then it turned negative."

When they started running, she said, she actually lost track of her 15-year-old son for two frightening minutes in the mayhem. "Thank God he has a cell phone," she said.

Carlos Harris, who lives downtown said the shooters "were strategic. It was tap tap pause. Tap tap pause."

Harris, who said he was in the military, said he heard someone fire back with an AR-15.

Before the shots were fired, the demonstration was peacefully walking down Main Street.

"The cops were peaceful," he said. "They were taking pictures with us and everything."

Sharay Santora, who was at the rally, said the gunfire sounded like a string of firecrackers. Santora said after the first round of shots, there were a few minutes of calm, and then the firing began again.

Stacey Brown, 30 and Bianca Avery, 34, were standing behind Dealey Plaza when they heard the shots.

"This was peaceful. This was peaceful," Brown said. "We were headed back to our cars to go home. But we turned that corner [at Main Street] and all hell broke loose."

"I heard a shot and all of a sudden people are running ... children everywhere, everything," Avery said.

Facebook activated its crisis safety check Thursday night for people in the area of the shootings to let others know they are safe. 

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