Multiple snipers killed five Dallas police officers, including one from Dallas Area Rapid Transit, and wounded seven others in a shocking coordinated attack toward the end of a peaceful protest of two fatal police shootings of black men in separate incidents earlier this week in Baton Rouge and near St. Paul, Minnesota.
Initial reports were that five officers were killed and six injured. But on Friday, the Dallas mayor told CNN that five officers were killed, another seven injured, and that two civilians had been hurt in the attack as well.
On Friday, police released the name of one of the victims, Dallas police officer Brent Thompson, age 43.
Three suspects have reportedly been taken into custody, including one woman. Late in the evening police were engaged in negotiations with a fourth shooter cornered on the second floor of the El Centro College parking garage, who has claimed “bombs are all over the place” and that “the end is coming.”
A “suspicious package” was discovered earlier and secured by the Dallas Police bomb squad.
“The suspect that we are negotiating with that has exchanged gunfire with us over the last 45 minutes has told our negotiators that the end is coming, and he is going to hurt and kill more of us, meaning law enforcement. And that there are bombs all over the place in this garage and in downtown,” Dallas Police Chief David Brown told reporters.
A blast from the parking garage was reported, but it is unknown whether police fired flash grenades or one of the claimed bombs had been detonated. At 2:21 a.m. local time, local media reported police were saying the threat had been “neutralized.”
According to police, at least four snipers from elevated positions were involved in what appears to be a strategic cross-fire attack directed at police. There has been no word on the condition of the surviving officers.
The shooting happened as protests were winding down about two blocks from Dealey Plaza. Video showed the crowd suddenly running for cover.
The barrage of gunfire was captured on this video posted to Facebook:
The shooting was captured from a second location in another video posted to YouTube:
Video posted to YouTube captured the shooting from a parking garage adjacent to where officers were hit. Warning: Some viewers may find the language offensive:
Similar protests were taking place around the country, most without incident. In New York, about 1,000 people marched down Fifth Avenue, occasionally scuffling with police.
Crowds milled in the streets outside the convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where Alton Sterling was fatally shot while police grappled with him in a parking lot Tuesday. Protesters briefly shut down the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago.
Dallas police released a photo of a man they describe as a person of interest in the shootings. Shortly afterward, a man claiming to be the brother of the man of interest told NBC his brother was not involved. While he had open-carried his AR-15 to the rally, when the shooting began, his brother told him to quickly surrender it to the police. The man has since turned himself in to authorities.
Police are asking anyone with information about the shootings to call 214-671-3485.
The first gunshots rang out about 9 p.m. Scores of police officers swarmed downtown following the first shooting, which took place along Main Street between and Market and Lamar streets, a block from the Old Red Courthouse building. Hundreds of people who attended the rally were trapped in place downtown for hours.
Witnesses reported hearing 50 or more rounds fired just before 9:00. Protesters and police alike took cover when shots rang out. It is not clear how many people were hurt. Victims were being taken to Parkland and Baylor hospitals.
Late in the evening, families of wounded officers began arriving at the local hospitals.
At least one civilian was injured. She was identified by family as Shetamia Taylor, and she was shot while shielding her children from the gunfire.
Chief Brown released the following statement Thursday evening before the first suspect was taken into custody: “Tonight it appears that two snipers shot ten police officers from elevated positions during the protest/rally. Three officers are deceased, two are in surgery and three are in critical condition. An intensive search for suspects is currently underway. No suspects are in custody at this time. We ask that any citizen with information regarding the shootings tonight call 214-671-3482. We will provide more information once it is available. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers tonight.”
Just before 11 p.m. Brown said an 11th officer was injured in a shootout with one of the snipers. Later, a fourth officer, from DART, was pronounced dead.
“We believe that these suspects were positioning themselves to triangulate on our officers and planned to injure and kill as many law enforcement officers as they could. Some officers were shot in the back,” Brown said.
The gunmen also engaged police officers at street level. In the YouTube video, below, one of the gunman is shown advancing on an officer positioned behind a pillar, where he opens fire with what appears to be an automatic weapon, killing the officer. (Warning: While the video was taken at a distance and the subjects cannot be seen clearly, the violence is graphic.)
The ATF and FBI have joined the investigation.
Airspace over Dallas was closed to all air traffic by the FAA.