Racial anger. Weapons. A brain capable of planning a horrific killing spree and evil enough to think it’s a fine idea.
All of those elements and more came into play Thursday night in Dallas, when an unknown number of people shot and killed five police officers and wounded nine other people during an otherwise peaceful protest of recent police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
The one known assailant, Micah Xavier Johnson – a 25-year-old who served as an Army carpenter in Afghanistan – died early Friday after police ended a tense standoff by setting off a robot-detonated bomb.
During the standoff, Johnson told a hostage negotiator that his goal was to kill white officers to avenge the deaths of African Americans at the hands of police. Johnson said he didn’t belong to any movement, including Black Lives Matters, and that he acted alone, a contention police continue to investigate.
Regardless of the motive, the result was the deadliest day for police officers since Sept. 11.
We’ll update as key news breaks:
3:08 — BOMB INGREDIENTS FOUND IN SHOOTER’S HOME
Materials used to create an explosive device, along with bullet-proof vests, rifles, ammunition and a personal journal detailing combat tactics were found Friday in the Mesquite, Texas-home of Micah Xavier Johnson, who police say shot five Dallas police officers Friday.
Johnson, who died following a police standoff early Friday, told authorities “there are bombs all over the place, in this garage and downtown.”
So far, Dallas police have not found any explosive devices.
2:44 — DALLAS POLICE VIEWED AS INNOVATIVE
Dallas Police Chief David Brown was at the White House earlier this year, part of an event honoring police agencies that had taken steps to improve race relations.
According to a story in the Washington Post, Dallas Police Chief Brown led a push to make his department more transparent and a key player in the community in the wake of a 2012 shooting that nearly sparked civil unrest in that city.
Since then, issues such as the number of complaints against police and the city homicide rate have improved. The steps taken by Dallas police are, in fact, reforms sought by many in the Black Lives Matter movement and others seeking reforms. And the Dallas PD was name-checked by President Barack Obama on Thursday, hours before the shootings, when he was responding to police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
On Friday, Chief Brown indicated his agency will continue to work toward being a community player.
“Police officers are guardians of this great democracy… The freedom to protest, the freedom of speech, the freedom of expression — all freedoms we fight for, with our lives. It’s what makes us who we are as Americans. And so we risk our lives for those rights.
“So we won’t militarize our policing standards, but we will do it in a much safer way every time, like we chose to do it this time.”
2:31 — DIFFERENT SHOOTING, SIMILAR MOTIVE?
The motive for a random shooting in Bristol, Tenn., early Thursday might have been the same as the race-based frustration that sparked the shootings of five police officers hours later in Dallas.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Friday that suspected shooter Lakeem Keon Scott, 37, was troubled by recent events involving African-Americans and law-enforcement officers when he killed a news carrier and wounded three other people, according to the CBS affiliate in the region.
The TBI also said Scott was armed with an automatic-style weapon and a pistol at the time of the attack.
2:17 — SHOOTER’S ROLE COMING INTO FOCUS
Increasingly, it appears Micah Xavier Johnson was the sole shooter in Dallas.
Though Dallas police haven’t released the three people they arrested Thursday immediately after the shootings, and senior officials told the New York Times that they’re not positive they’ve “exhausted every lead” to sort out what roles, if any, those in custody played in the killings, they also told the Times that it appears Johnson was the sole shooter.
Johnson claimed to be the sole shooter when he was talking with a police negotiator before he was killed by a remote-controlled bomb delivered by a police robot.
1:04 — LOCAL RESPONSE
Local police agencies aren’t on a particularly high alert. Just two departments switched to two-man patrol cars today, and none reported any credible threats.
Instead, they said, officers and deputies in Orange County need to remain on high alert, much as they have since the summer of 2014, when racial unrest and protests against police brutality in Ferguson, Mo., resulted in several confrontations involving law enforcement.
Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said Friday that her department will work to make sure deputies and the public are safe.
“The reality is you go out on the street and somebody decides to take you out, that’s hard to guard against,” Hutchens said. “Now we have to worry about copy cats.”
See the full story with Hutchens here.
12:59 — FALLOUT BEGINS
President Barack Obama, on a previously scheduled trip to Poland, responded to the shootings in Dallas, calling it a “vicious, calculated, and despicable attack on law enforcement” and a “wrenching reminder of the sacrifices they make for us.” Though Obama noted that “when people are armed with powerful weapons, it makes attacks like these more deadly and more tragic,” he emphasized that “today, our focus is on the victims and their families.”
Others suggested the shootings might spark more violence.
Former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh wrote this on Twitter: “This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you.” He later deleted the tweet and told the Chicago Tribune he wasn’t suggesting an attack on Obama.
12:34 — WHAT HAPPENED
Details could change as police and others explain more of what they know, but here is some of what is known so far:
1. The first shots were heard just before 9 p.m., Dallas time, as a protest of the killing of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota was drawing to a close. The protest, one of many held around the country Thursday, had previously been peaceful.
2. At least one sniper shot 12 police officers and 2 civilians from elevated positions along the protest route, according to Dallas police and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. Multiple sources have identified the shooter as Micah Xavier Johnson, a 25-year-old Army veteran who served at least one tour in Afghanistan. The nine people who were injured are expected to survive.
3. After the shooting spree, Johnson staged a multi-hour standoff with police. The standoff ended when police sent in a so-called bomb robot and the resulting explosion killed the suspect.
4. Johnson told police that he was “upset about Black Lives Matters,” but wasn’t connected with that group or any group. Dallas police said Friday that Johnson told them he was “upset with white people” and that he “wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.”
5. Police are still looking for additional suspects and are not confident they have yet identified or located all of the individuals who may have been involved.
12:17 P.M. — THE FALLEN
Here’s a quick update from the Associated Press on a couple of the victims. Others have not yet been identified:
One was a newlywed. Another had survived multiple tours in Iraq. Both were fathers.
The stories of the officers gunned down in a sniper attack in Dallas during a protest over recent police shootings of black men emerged Friday as their identities became known.
Brent Thompson, 43, had worked as an officer with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit authority for the last seven years. There he found love, marrying another transit officer within the last two weeks.
Thompson had six grown children from a previous marriage and had recently welcomed his third grandchild, according to Tara Thornton, a close friend of Thompson’s 22-year-old daughter, Lizzie.
Thompson previously worked for DynCorp International, a private military contractor, serving from 2004 to 2008 as an international police liaison officer in Iraq. Thompson worked as the company’s chief of operations for southern Iraq, where he helped train teams covering Baghdad. He also worked in northern Iraq and in Afghanistan, where he was a team leader and lead mentor to a southern provincial police chief.
“He was a brave man dedicated to his family,” said Thornton. “He loved being a police officer. He instantly knew that’s what he wanted to do. He knew he wanted to save lives and protect people. He had a passion for it.”
Patrick Zamarripa had an urge to serve — first in the Navy, where his family said he did three tours in Iraq, then back home in Texas as a Dallas police officer.
“Patrick would bend over backward to help anybody. He’d give you his last dollar if he had it. He was always trying to help people, protect people,” his father, Rick Zamarripa, told The Associated Press by phone Friday.
“As tough as he was, he was patient, very giving.”
Zamarripa, 32, was married with a toddler and school-age stepchild. After doing security work in the Navy, a police career seemed a natural fit once he returned to Texas in 2009. Zamarripa joined the Dallas force about five years ago and recently was assigned to downtown bicycle patrols, his father said.
Zamarripa realized policing was a dangerous job. His father recently put him in touch with an in-law who works elsewhere in government, hoping his son might leave the force.
“‘No, I want to stay here,“’ he said, according to his father. “‘I like the action.“’
Zamarripa is survived by his wife, Kristy Villasenor, whom he’d known since high school; their 2-year-old daughter, Lyncoln, and a 10-year-old stepson.