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2016-07-14

Texas mourns Dallas

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Courtesy photo
Texas Governor Greg Abbott lit Texas Governor’s Mansion in blue the evening of Friday, July 8, in honor of the fallen law enforcement officers killed in the attack on Dallas police Thursday. The Governor's Mansion will remain lit for five nights, one night for each of the fallen officers.



While providing security for a Black Lives Matter protest against police violence on Thursday, July 7, 12 police officers with the City of Dallas were ambushed by snipers in an attack that was subsequently described as “planned and coordinated.” Five officers were killed and another seven wounded – some reportedly in critical condition. One slain officer worked for Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). Two civilians were hit as well. It has been described as the bloodiest day for law enforcement since Sept. 11, 2001.
The shooting occurred just before 9 pm as the combination rally and protest was concluding.
A preliminary investigation indicated that a two-person sniper team had apparently fired from an elevated position in a parking garage during the attack. Hours after the incident began, one shooter had been killed and three other suspects taken into custody.
Conflicting reports
As the investigation progressed, however, it became clear that only one suspect, utilizing a military “shoot and move” technique, was responsible for the carnage. There have been no reports on the disposition of the trio of suspects who were detained.
That night, a video had surfaced showing the sniper, armed with a long gun, sneak up behind a police officer and shoot him repeatedly.
During a press conference the morning of Friday, July 8, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said that the lone suspect, identified as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, of Mesquite, had earlier barricaded himself in a parking garage. After several hours of negotiations, talks broke down with the still-armed man. Johnson, it was reported, would only speak with an African-American negotiator.
At that point, police equipped a remote-controlled robot – commonly used to disarm bombs – with a pound of C-4 explosive and directed the vehicle in close proximity to the suspect. After gunfire was exchanged, the explosive was detonated, killing the suspect. He was confirmed dead at 3:06 am, Friday, July 8.
As expected, questions have been raised regarding the “ethics and morality” of dispatching the suspect with a remote-controlled bomb.
At the press conference, Brown defended the unorthodox tactic, saying, “We saw no other option. Other options would have exposed our officers to grave danger.” Later, he added that if faced with the decision again, he would make the same decision.
‘… wanted
to kill white officers’
Brown also revealed that during the failed negotiations, Johnson had admitted that he had “wanted to kill white people, especially white (police) officers,” in retaliation for recent police shootings in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis and in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
Johnson also said – truthfully as it turned out – he had “acted alone” without affiliations to other groups and that IEDs (improvised explosive devices) had been planted in the downtown area.
A thorough search of the perimeter by agents with ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) and FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) revealed no hidden explosive devices.
Later that afternoon, a White House spokesman released a statement noting that it had been determined that the killings were unrelated to domestic or international terrorism. President Barack Obama directed that flags be flown at half-staff for four days. At the time of the attack, Obama was attending a NATO conference in Poland.
Johnson had previously served a tour of duty in Afghanistan with the United States Army Reserve. He had no criminal record. A search of Johnson’s home, which he shared with his mother, revealed an arsenal of bomb-making material, firearms and body armor that he had reportedly assembled for years.
Tragedy timeline
According to information provided by the Dallas Police Department Twitter and Facebook accounts, the first officer was killed at 10:23 pm. At 10:29 pm, three others were reported killed with a fifth fatality occurring at 1:47 am.
Overnight and into the morning, troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) provided assistance on scene, including perimeter and aerial support and evidence collection. The department also provided DPS counselors for victim services support for law enforcement personnel involved in the shooting.
DPS Director Steven McCraw noted, “The Texas Department of Public Safety mourns the loss of our fellow law enforcement officers as well as those injured in the line of duty in Dallas.
“We join the people of Dallas, our brothers and sisters in law enforcement, and the families and friends of those impacted by this attack in trying to grasp the reality of this senseless tragedy.”
‘Pray for Dallas’
In a prepared statement, Congressman Lamar Smith wrote: “I am deeply saddened by the orchestrated attack on Dallas police officers who devoted their lives to serving and protecting their community. There has been a tragic loss of life this week. In this heartbreaking time, we should all join together to pray for Dallas and our nation.”
Texas flags were ordered lowered to honor the lives and public service of the slain officers. Flags remained at half-staff through sunset on Tuesday, July 12.
Additionally, on Friday evening, the Texas governor’s mansion was lit in blue to honor the fallen law enforcement officers killed in the Dallas attack. The governor’s mansion remained bathed in blue for five nights – one night for each of the fallen law enforcement officers.