Live Blog: Officials Say Dallas Gunman Acted Alone; Obama To Visit Next Week | KERA News

Live Blog: Officials Say Dallas Gunman Acted Alone; Obama To Visit Next Week

Jul 8, 2016

Law enforcement officials are investigating identified suspect Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, of Mesquite, who was killed Friday morning by police after an hours-long standoff.

The Army says Johnson  served in the Army Reserve and did one tour of duty in Afghanistan. The suspect has no criminal record, according to a Dallas police investigation.

Dallas police are investigating evidence and crime scene locations with the help of various federal, state, county and local law enforcement agencies. 

During the search of the suspect’s Mesquite home Friday, detectives found bomb-making materials, ballistic vests, rifles, ammunition, and a personal journal of combat tactics.  Detectives are analyzing the information in the journal.

Portions of the crime scene locations in downtown Dallas will remain closed to the public until Wednesday. 

The White House announced late Friday that President Obama will visit Dallas early next week.

Police Used A Robot-Delivered Bomb

In a press conference Friday morning, Dallas Police Chief David Brown confirmed police killed Johnson with a robot-delivered bomb after hours of overnight negotiations in a parking garage had failed. 

Before he died, the suspect said he was upset about recent shootings by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, and he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers, Brown said. The suspect said he wasn't affiliated with any groups and worked alone, Brown said. 

The Army says Johnson was a private first class. His service dates, as provided by the Army, are March 2009 to April 2015. The Army says Johnson deployed to Afghanistan in November 2013 and returned in July 2014.

We are updating this story throughout the day.

Friday Afternoon: What We Know

  • The Army says Micah Xavier Johnson, named as a suspect in the Dallas police shootings, served in the Army Reserve and did one tour of duty in Afghanistan.
  • Investigators can be seen at Johnson’s house in Mesquite.
  • Dallas Police Chief David Brown says the attack was “well planned.”
  • Scores of people gathered at Thanksgiving Square in downtown Dallas for a midday prayer service.
  • A robotics expert says Dallas police appear to be the first law enforcement agency to use a robot to kill.
  • Twelve police officers and two civilians were shot during the protest in downtown Dallas Thursday. Snipers opened fire around 8:45 p.m. Five officers were killed -- four from Dallas police one worked for DART, the Dallas transit system. Seven officers were injured.
  • At least one sniper carried out the attacks. Three other suspects have been arrested.       

 

See dramatic photos from the scene last night in downtown Dallas from KXAS

Flags To Fly Half-Staff

President Barack Obama has ordered flags lowered to half-staff to honor the 12 police officers and two civilians who were shot.

Obama's proclamation Friday applies to American flags flown at the White House and on all public buildings and grounds, military installations and Navy vessels. It extends through sunset Tuesday.

Gov. Greg Abbott ordered Texas flags to be flown at half-staff statewide during the same time period to honor the victims. Five of the officers were killed. The other seven and the two civilians were wounded.

'We've Got To Turn To Love'

Jeff Hood, one of the organizers of Thursday night’s protest, spoke with reporters at 11 a.m. Friday. He said the event was peaceful.

“We left that rally in a non-violent fashion; the rally was non violent,” Hood says. “There was never a moment where I felt like there was a hint of violence.”

Hood says he’s interested in creating an environment where people could “network face to face” on police brutality.

“We cannot bring about justice through violence. We cannot bring love through violence if we continue to turn to violence we are going to continue to see heartache and devastation. … Why is this happening? The only answer I know now is turn to love. We’ve got to turn to love. We’ve got to stop shooting. We’ve got to turn to love.”

A map of what happened where Thursday night in Dallas.
Credit Reuters

Attorney General: 'Let Us Help Heal One Another'

Attorney General Loretta Lynch spoke this morning at the Justice Department in Washington. She’s calling for peace and calm in the wake of the attack on the police officers, saying that violence is never the answer.

“To all Americans, I ask you, I implore you: Do not let this week precipitate a new normal in this country,” she said. “I ask you to turn to each-other not against each-other as we move forward. Let us support one another, let us help heal one another. And I urge you to remember today and every day that we are one nation, we are one people and we stand together.”

Lynch also said she is grateful to law enforcement for their work.

“To our brothers and sisters who wear the badge – I want you to know that I am deeply grateful that the difficult and dangerous work that you do every day – to keep our streets safe and our nation secure,” she said. “Our hearts are broken by this loss. And the department of justice will do all that we can to support you in the days ahead.”

Lynch says the spate of violence can't be allowed to "precipitate a new normal." Calling the Dallas attack "an unfathomable tragedy," she says those concerned about suspect killings by police should not be discouraged "by those who use your lawful actions as a cover for their heinous violence."

At a separate Friday morning press conference, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said Dallas Police trained in de-escalation before many other departments in the U.S. and that the department has one of the lowest records this year of shootings by an officer. 

Federal Officials Assisting In Investigation

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assisting in the investigation.

The agency said Friday that it won't immediately release information about the type of weapons used in the attack during a demonstration Thursday to protest the killing of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota by white police officers.

Officers at the scene of the shooting say some kind of rifle was used.

Weapons such as the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle are easy to fire and generally accurate. Little or no training is required to fire such weapons and they are widely available.

'This violence is wrong'

Some Black Lives Matter supporters are condemning the slayings of Dallas police.

New York Daily News columnist Shaun King says on Twitter that he hates police brutality but doesn't hate police. He says: "This violence is wrong on every level." Center for Media Justice director Malkia Cyril says her "heart hurts for the dead." Cyril and King also defended the Black Lives Matter movement.

She writes that it "advocates dignity, justice and freedom, not the murder of cops." King says anyone blaming Black Lives Matter "is sick." He says protesters were peaceful and the shootings "terrorized them too."  

Remembering DART Officer Brent Thompson

A DART statement Friday identified the agency's three wounded personnel as 44-year-old Officer Omar Cannon, 32-year-old Officer Misty McBride and 39-year-old Officer Jesus Retana. DART spokesman Morgan Lyons did not release details of the injuries, but said all three should recover.

Brent Thompson, 43, was a DART officer killed in a shooting at a protest in downtown Dallas on July 7, 2016.
Credit DART

Officer Brent Thompson, 43, was the first DART officer killed in the line of duty since the transit agency formed a police department in 1989. Thompson worked as a DART officer since 2009. Thompson was a newlywed whose bride also works for the police force.

DART police Chief James Spiller described Thompson on Friday as a "courageous" and "great guy."

Earlier coverage

People gathered in small groups on Dallas' tense, police-filled streets before dawn early Friday struggled to fathom the still-unsettled situation.

Resident Jalisa Jackson says: "I think the biggest thing that we've had something like this is when JFK died," evoking the November 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy on the city's streets. She calls it "surreal."

A memorial group said the slaying of five police officers in Dallas in an attack blamed on snipers was the deadliest day in U.S. law enforcement history since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which monitors the deaths of officers, reported 72 officers were killed as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. The group labels that attack as the deadliest day in U.S. law enforcement history.

Reactions From Around The State, Country, World

President Barack Obama said America is "horrified" over the shootings and there's no possible justification for the attacks.

Obama responded from Warsaw, Poland, where he's meeting with leaders of the European Union and attending a NATO summit.

Obama said justice will be done and he's asked all Americans to pray for the fallen officers and their families. He also said the nation should express its gratitude to those serving in law enforcement.

Obama said earlier there was no contradiction between supporting law enforcement and making certain biases in the justice system are rooted out.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he's cutting short an out-of-state trip to go to Dallas.

Abbott also said he spoke with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings to express his condolences and offer any assistance the city needs.

State Representative Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas) said in a statement:

"The ambush of our police officers and the murder of five officers is not only an attack on law enforcement, but also an attack of our civil liberties to assemble and share views, and the rights of our citizens to feel safe and secure in their everyday lives..."

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said in a statement that "our thoughts and prayers go out to these officers and their families, and to those who have been injured." He said his office is in close contact with local authorities and will be offering to provide whatever support they can to help victims and bring the "perpetrators to justice."

Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of one of Sterling's children, denounced the Dallas killings. In a statement issued Friday McMillon's attorneys said "responding to violence with violence is not the answer."

"We wholeheartedly reject the reprehensible acts of violence that were perpetrated against members of the Dallas Police Department. Our hearts break for the families of the officers who were lost as they protected protesters and residents alike during a rally."

What We Know At Friday Midmorning

  • Twelve police officers and two civilians were shot during the protest in downtown Dallas Thursday. Snipers opened fire around 8:45 p.m.
  • Five officers were killed -- four from Dallas police one worked for DART, the Dallas transit system. Seven were injured.
  • At least one sniper carried out the attacks. Three other suspects have been arrested.  
  • The now-deceased suspect, Micah Johnson, had served as enlisted soldier and served a tour of duty in Afghanistan, according to AP.
  • Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he does not believe that any of the wounded victims have life-threatening injuries.
  • Thursday night's shootings followed a peaceful protest over the recent fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Dallas police performed extensive sweeps of downtown for explosives, and didn't find anything.

Downtown Dallas Is Quiet 

Dallas Police Major Max Geron said traffic commanders worked on a traffic plan and will collapse the crime scene as soon as possible. However, people should expect "significant disruption" in the downtown area with many streets remaining closed into Friday evening.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.