Five Dallas police officers were killed and seven more injured just before 9 p.m. on July 7, as at least two snipers fired on the officers from elevated positions. The shooting of the five officers (four of whom were with the Dallas Police Department and another who was with DART, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit agency) occurred shortly after a Black Lives Matter protest had ended. The protest had been organized largely in response to the police-involved shootings of two black men, Philando Castile and Alton Stirling, earlier this week in Minnesota and Louisiana, respectively.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown said during a news conference that before the shots rang out the event had been peaceful and that members of the police department had met with protest organizers several times before the event.
“The suspect said he was upset about Black Lives Matter. He said he was upset about the recent police shootings,” Brown said at the news conference.
Police SWAT officers cornered the suspect, who has been identified as Micah Johnson, about 2 a.m. Friday in a downtown parking garage and detonated a robotic explosive device near the man after he refused to surrender. Before he died, Johnson told officers he was acting alone, but the police said investigators are still trying to identify other potential shooters. Johnson was a Dallas resident and former Army reservist who had no criminal history or known ties to terrorist groups.
“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,” Brown was quoted by CNN. “Other options would have exposed our officers to grave danger. The suspect is deceased as a result of detonating the bomb.”
Brown also confirmed earlier reports that there had been more than one sniper. “Working together with rifles, [the shooters] triangulated at elevated positions in different points in the downtown area where the march ended up going,” Brown said.
“We have yet to determine whether or not there was some complicity with the planning of this, but we will be pursuing that,” the chief added.
When reporters asked Brown about the gunman’s motive, he replied:
We can’t get into the head of a person that would do something like this. We negotiated with this person that seemed lucid during the negotiation. He wanted to kill officers, and he expressed killing white people, he expressed killing white officers, he expressed anger for Black Lives Matter. None of that makes sense. None of that is a reason, a legitimate reason, to do harm to anyone. So the rest of it would just be speculating on what his motivations were. We just know what he said.
It is perhaps ironic that Johnson’s anger against the Dallas police was fueled by the Black Lives Matter campaign when the head of that department, Chief Brown, is black.
CNN quoted a statement from retired FBI Special Agent Steve Moore, who believes the scope of the attack indicated that it required advance planning. “This was an attack planned long before — waiting for an opportunity to go,” Moore said. “I think there was so much logistically, ammunition-wise. They may not have planned the location, they may not have planned the vantage point. But they had prepared for an attack before last night’s shooting is my guess.”
In an interview with NBC’s Today show on Friday morning, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said: “This is a terrible blow to the city of Dallas. This is a terrible blow to the United States of America.”
The mayor called the shooting Dallas’ “worst nightmare” and asked that all residents “come together and support our police officers.”
That the police were definitely the shooters’ targets was made evident by a statement made to NBC 5 News in Dallas by Cortney Washington, of Dallas. “I saw all the cops were bending over. There had to have been five or six cops, and they were all getting shot down. It was right after the rally, we were walking to the car,” said Washington. “They kept shooting. It was coming — we didn't know where it was coming from. And I didn’t see anybody else get shot. It was just the cops. I didn’t see nobody else get shot.”
The Dallas protest was organized by Dominique R. Alexander, an ordained minister and the head of the Next Generation Action Network, according to the New York Times. Alexander told the Times that the organization “does not condone violence against any human being, and we condemn anyone who wants to commit violence.”
A visit to the Next Generation Action Network’s website shows that the group’s logo consists of a bright red clenched fist of the type favored by communist-affiliated revolutionaries during the 1960s.
Some black civil rights leaders, including Reverend Cecil “Chip” Murray, Najee Ali, and Earl Ofari Hutchinson, have criticized the tactics of Black Lives Matter organizers. Marchers using a BLM banner were recorded in a video chanting, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon” at the Minnesota State Fair last year.
In response to that incident, the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, an organization of more than 8,500 officers around the state, released a statement calling the chant “deplorable and threatening.”
Following the fair, the St. Paul Police Federation’s president, Dave Titus, posted on the Facebook page of the union representing rank-and-file officers: “The SPPD dedicated great resources to ensure the safety and passage of a BLM march to the Fair — even though that march had no legal permit.... Nonetheless, federation members worked within the rules outlined by city and department management to ensure everyone’s safety and freedom of speech, even though some of that speech was outrageous and disgusting.”
Titus, a 22-year veteran of the St. Paul Police Department, said he believed the chant “promotes death to cops.”
A July 8 tweet from the Black Lives Matter twitter account expressed disapproval of the Dallas shootings: “#BlackLivesMatter advocates dignity, justice and freedom. Not murder.”
A July 8 report from Breitbart News — citing a report the same day in the U.K. newspaper the Mirror — noted that a group called the Black Power Political Organization appeared to take credit for the Dallas police shootings. The message posted on the page, which has since been removed but was accessed though its cache, read: "More Will Be Assassinated In The Coming Days! Do You Like The Work Of Our Assassins? Get Your Own Sniper."
However, Bretibart did make this cautionary statement, lest the reader jump to hasty conclusions: "It should be stressed that it can not be confirmed whether this group or the Facebook account is actually connected to the Dallas massacre."
Of particular interest to those deciphering the Dallas tragedy is the mention on the cached Facebook page of the Black Power Political Organization of two radical groups — the New Black Panther Party and the Huey P Newton Gun Club. The latter is a paramilitary organization that has had a visible presence in Dallas for several years. It was founded by Charles Goodson and Darren X, the national field marshall of the New Black Panther Party.
The group is named after Huey P Newton, the co-founder of the militant Black Panther Party who was shot and killed in Oakland, California, in 1989 by a member of a rival organization, the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF).
As of this writing, we have seen no evidence that the Huey P Newton Gun Club was involved in the police shooting.