Suspect ‘targeted whites’
Shooter killed by bomb
DALLAS: Events in this city where five police officers were fatally shot and seven others wounded during a protest over fatal police shootings of black men in other states was the bloodiest day for US law enforcement since the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Thursday’s bloodshed, which unfolded just a few blocks from where President John F Kennedy was slain in 1963, also evoked the trauma of the nation’s tumultuous civil rights era.
Police Chief David Brown initially blamed “snipers,” and authorities said three suspects were in custody and a fourth dead.
By late Friday attention was focused on a man who was killed by law enforcement with a robot-delivered bomb in a parking garage where he had exchanged fire with officers. Before dying, the police chief said, the suspect declared to officers that he was upset about recent shootings and wanted to kill whites, “especially white officers.”
The suspect also said he was not affiliated with any groups and stated that he acted alone, Brown added.
None of the suspects was identified, and the police chief said he would not disclose any details about them until authorities were sure nobody else was involved.
The shooting began about 8.45pm on Thursday while hundreds of people were gathered to protest the week’s fatal police shootings in Baton Rouge and suburban St. Paul. Brown told reporters the snipers fired “ambush-style” on the officers. Two civilians were also wounded.
Brown said it appeared the shooters “planned to injure and kill as many officers as could.”
Video from the scene showed protesters marching along a street near City Hall when shots erupted and the crowd scattered, seeking cover.
Officers crouched beside vehicles, armoured SWAT team vehicles arrived and a helicopter hovered overhead.
The Dallas shootings occurred in an area of hotels, restaurants, businesses and some residential apartments only a few blocks from Dealey Plaza, the landmark made famous by the Kennedy assassination.
The scene was chaotic, with officers with automatic rifles on the street corners.
Brown said the suspects “triangulated” officers in the downtown area where the protesters were marching and had “some knowledge of the route” they would take.
Video posted on social media appeared to show a gunman at ground level exchanging fire with a police officer who was then shot.
Mayor Mike Rawlings said one of the wounded officers had a bullet go through his leg as three members of his squad were fatally shot around him.
“He felt that people don’t understand the danger of dealing with a protest,” said Rawlings, who spoke to the surviving officer.
“And that’s what I learnt from this. We care so much about people protesting, and I think it’s their rights. But how we handle it can do a lot of things. One of the things it can do is put our police officers in harm’s way, and we have to be very careful about doing that.”
Early yesterday morning, dozens of officers filled the corridor of the emergency room at Baylor Medical Center, where other wounded officers were taken.
The mayor and police chief were seen arriving there.
Four of the officers who were killed were with the Dallas Police Department, a spokesman said. One was a Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer. The agency said in a statement that 43-year-old officer Brent Thompson, a newlywed whose bride also works for the police force, was the first officer killed in the line of duty since the agency formed a police department in 1989.
“Our hearts are broken,” the statement said.
Theresa Williams said one of the wounded civilians was her sister, 37-year-old Shetamia Taylor, who was shot in the right calf.
She had thrown herself over her four sons, ages 12 to 17, when the shooting began.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott directed the Texas Department of Public Safety to offer “whatever assistance the City of Dallas needs.”
“In times like this we must remember – and emphasise – the importance of uniting as Americans,” Abbott said.
Other protests across the US on Thursday were peaceful, including in New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia. In Minnesota hundreds of protesters marched in the rain from a vigil to the governor’s official residence.
President Barack Obama said America is “horrified” by the shootings, which have no possible justification. He called them “vicious, calculated and despicable.”
Speaking from Warsaw, Poland, where he was meeting leaders of the European Union and attending a Nato summit, the president asked all Americans to pray for the fallen officers and their families.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which tracks on-duty deaths, said the fatal shootings made Thursday the bloodiest day for US police since the 2001 September 11 attacks. – ANA-AP
A police officer is comforted at Baylor University Hospital after Thurdsay’s shooting attack in Dallas.