A suspect killed in a standoff with police after the deadly sniper shooting in Dallas said he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers, before he was taken out by a bomb, officials said Friday.
Gunfire erupted in Dallas on Thursday night during a peaceful protest over police violence in the country, as a hail of bullets aimed at officers came from elevated positions in the downtown area.
Five cops were fatally shot and seven others were wounded. Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, has since been identified as the attacker, who was killed by a bomb detonated by police, authorities said.
“We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was,” Dallas Police Chief David Brown said at a press conference on Friday. “Other options would’ve exposed our officers to grave danger.”
A hostage negotiator spoke with the suspect at length before negotiations broke down, Brown said.
“The suspect said he was upset about [the] Black Lives Matter [movement]. He said he was upset about the recent police shootings. The suspect said he was upset at white people… wanted to kill white people, especially white officers,” Brown said.
Johnson told police he was not affiliated with any groups and that he acted alone, warning officers that they would “eventually find the IEDs,” or improvised explosive devices, Brown continued.
“The suspect told our negotiators that the end is coming,” he said.
Police found no explosives during primary or secondary searches of the area, authorities said.
Brown declined to reveal further comments the suspect made or provide details about the suspect himself, citing the ongoing investigation.
It’s unclear how many people were involved in the shooting, but three other suspects are in custody, officials said. Brown said police’s search for further information is far from over.
“I’m not going to be satisfied until we turn over every stone,” Brown said. “We’re not satisfied that we’ve exhausted every lead. If there’s someone out there who was associated with this, we will find you and we will prosecute you and we will bring you to justice.”
Of the five cops killed in the ambush, one was a Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) officer. DART operates buses and commuter rails in the area.
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 had served as a DART officer since 2009. He married a fellow DART officer two weeks ago.
Three other DART officers were among the seven injured, many of whom have been released from the hospital to their families, Brown said.
The shooting is the deadliest single incident of U.S. law enforcement since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
President Obama, who is in Warsaw, Poland, called the attack “a viscous, calculated and despicable act on law enforcement. I believe I speak for every American when I say we are horrified.”
Brown asked for prayers for his department, saying: “We’re hurting. Our profession is hurting. Dallas officers are hurting. We are heart broken. There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city. All I know is that this, it must stop.”
He praised Dallas Police and DART officers for their heroism, saying they were “Some of the bravest men and women you’d ever want to be associated with. You see video footage after video footage (of officers) running toward gunfire (coming from) an elevated position with no chance to protect themselves … to make sure citizens can get to a place of security.”
Peaceful demonstrators were sent running for their lives after marching in response to videos released this week that showed Alton Sterling shot by police in Louisiana and Philando Castile killed by a cop during a traffic stop Minnesota.
Two civilians were also wounded in the shooting, authorities said.
The Dallas Police Department has seen decreases in excessive force complaints, arrests and officer-involved shootings as the force shifted to focus its training and practices on de-escalation and community policing. The shooting will not change that, Brown said.
"Police officers are guardians of this great democracy," he said. "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."
Mayor Michael Rawlings agreed, saying: “This police department trained in de-escalation far before cities across America did it. We’re one of the premiere community policing cities in the country and this year we have the fewest police officer-related shootings than any large city in America. We are working hard to improve and there’s always room for improvement, but we are best in class, we feel.”