Friday, July 08, 2016

Dallas Police 'Ambush': 12 Officers Shot, 5 Killed During Protest
NBC News

A suspect who was killed by police after snipers shot 12 Dallas officers, five fatally, "wanted to kill white people, especially white officers," Dallas Police Chief David Brown said.

The city's downtown was in lockdown Friday after the violence, which happened during a protest over the deadly police shootings of black men elsewhere in the country this week.

The ambush marked the deadliest day for law enforcement since Sept. 11, 2001.

Three people were in custody and a fourth suspect exchanged gunfire with authorities in a parking garage at El Centro Community College into the morning, Brown said.

The fourth suspect was killed in the early hours of the morning, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told MSNBC.

"The good news: He's gone off the face of the Earth," Rawlings said.

Earlier, the suspect had told police negotiators that "the end is coming" and that "there are bombs all over the place in this garage and downtown," Brown said.

President Barack Obama, who was in Poland for a NATO meeting, condemned the "vicious, callous and despicable attack."

"I believe I speak for every single American when I say that we are horrified over these events and that we stand united with the people and the police department in Dallas," the president said.

The chaos started Thursday night, when at least two snipers fired from an elevated position on police officers minutes before 9 p.m. local time (10 p.m. ET), Brown said. He called it an "ambush-style" shooting.

"We believe that these suspects were positioning themselves in a way to triangulate on these officers from two different perches in garages in the downtown area, and planned to injure and kill as many law enforcement officers as they could," he told a news conference — noting that some victims were shot in the back.

Other suspects might still be at large. "We're hopeful that we have got everybody, but we don't know that for sure," Rawlings told NBC's TODAY.

He said the suspects in custody were "being pretty tight-lipped," but their motives were clear. "It's simple ... they wanted to kill police officers. And sadly, they did."

Rawlings didn't elaborate any further on the motives or on who the suspects were, and said authorities were "not ruling anything out," including terrorism.

The FAA ordered a temporary flight restriction over Dallas and there were extensive sweeps of downtown for explosives, but none were found.

The casualties included eight Dallas police officers and four Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) officers, the mayor told NBC News Friday morning. Earlier, officials had said only 11 officers had been shot.

Four of the five slain officers were Dallas police, and the fifth was a DART officer. A civilian was also wounded, authorities said.

About 800 people were at the demonstration, and around 100 police officers were assigned to the event and the surrounding area. The shooting occurred after the demonstration ended and as a march was taking place just several blocks from Dealey Plaza, where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

"Our worst nightmare happened," Rawlings said earlier. "It is a heartbreaking moment for the city of Dallas."

"We heard shots, we smelled gunpowder, and that's when everything got really intense and surreal," a witness told MSNBC. "We just started to run and grab kids."

Police distributed a photo of a man they called a "person of interest." The person in that photo turned himself in, police said, and was later released. It does not appear he was part of the four suspects later mentioned by Brown.

Attorney General Kamala Harris said the shootings in Dallas were "a grave reminder of the dangers our law enforcement officers face each day in service of their communities."

The violence put other cities on alert as well. The NYPD's Counterterrorism Bureau said in a statement it was "monitoring the developing events" in Dallas.

The demonstration in Dallas was one of several held across the country Thursday over the police shootings of two black men, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Tuesday and Philando Castile Wednesday in a St. Paul, Minnesota suburb.

In St. Paul, a crowd estimated to be more than a thousand strong gathered outside a school where one of those men killed, Philando Castile, worked as a kitchen supervisor.

In Baton Rouge, mourners gathered in a "second line" parade for Alton Sterling, who was killed by police Tuesday in an incident recorded on video by a bystander. The Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into that shooting.

"It can be any brother or sister out here. This ain't just started; they've been killing us," Chermicka Brown, a friend of Sterling's who joined protesters outside the store where he was shot, told NBC affiliate WVLA in Baton Rouge. 

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