Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick joined a handful of other Texas Republican officials Friday in blaming former Black Lives Matter protests for the shooting in Dallas Thursday night that left at least five police officers dead.
"I do blame people on social media with their hatred towards police," Patrick said during an interview on Fox News on Friday. He added that, despite the "peaceful" nature of last nights protests, he blames former Black Lives Matter events for the incident.
He also blames protesters at the event critical of law enforcement for expecting protection from them when shots were fired.
“I do blame people on social media with their hatred towards police.”— Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick
"All those protesters last night, they ran the other way, expecting the men and women in blue to turn around and protect them," Patrick said. "What hypocrites!"
Patrick wasn't the only Texas Republican to link the Black Lives Matter movement to the shooting in Dallas on Friday. State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, tweeted similar allegations.
"Clearly the rhetoric of Black Lives Matters encouraged the sniper that shot Dallas police officers," he wrote.
In a separate tweet, he said the "hands up, don't shoot" rhetoric often used in Black Lives Matter events "is a lie" the media needs to dispel.
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, also pointed to the movement as a source of tension during an appearance on Fox Business and said President Obama has been "divisive" in his handling of tensions between African-Americans and law enforcement.
"He always comes out against the cops, but then he would usually be wrong," Gohmert said. "This administration has supported Black Lives Matter, as even as its leaders have called out for killing cops."
Such rhetoric appeared at odds with a message of unity that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott pushed Friday.
“In the coming days, there will be those who foment distrust and fan the flames of dissension,” he wrote in an open letter first published by The Dallas Morning News. “To come together - that would be the greatest rebuke to those who seek to tear us apart.”
Organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement quickly condemned the Dallas shooting and took issue with efforts to blame the movement on it.
"Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it," the group wrote in a statement Friday. "Yesterday’s attack was the result of the actions of a lone gunman. To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible."
Abby Livingston and Jim Malewitz contributed to this report.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly quoted Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's criticism of protesters in Dallas. What he actually said was "What hypocrites!"
For more on this story, see President Obama’s remarks on the Dallas police shooting, how Dallas police used a robot to kill a suspect for the first time in the U.S., and how some say Dallas police and community relations were improving before Thursday’s attack.