DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/KRLD) - A peaceful protest against officer-involved shootings around the nation took a sinister turn at about 9 p.m. on Thursday night, as a sniper in downtown Dallas shot 12 police officers and two civilians, killing five of the officers, according to Chief David Brown with the Dallas Police Department.
"Some officers were shot in the back," said Brown, who added that the men were attacked "ambush-style" by snipers from an elevated position. It was the deadliest day for law enforcement officers since 9/11.
One suspect died just before 3 a.m. on Friday after an hours-long standoff with police. Authorities cornered him in the parking garage of El Centro College and tried to negotiate. However, the communications broke down and police were left with few options that were safe.
Thus, police sent a bomb robot in with an explosive device, and detonated it near the suspect.
"The suspect is deceased as a result of detonating the bomb," Brown said. Earlier reports that the suspect killed himself were inaccurate. The suspect was identified by a law enforcement source on Friday morning as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, of Mesquite.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said Friday afternoon, authorities believe Johnson was the lone attacker and that the city is "safe."
Rawlings added he believes the city can start healing now.
Governor Greg Abbott said that although investigators believe Johnson was the only gunman, he thinks it's imperative to make sure that there weren't any co-conspirators or people who may have known in advance about the attack.
The U.S. Army said that Johnson was a part of the Army Reserve for six years and served for nine months in Afghanistan.
During the negotiation process, Brown explained, Johnson gave some insight into his thought process. "The suspect said he was upset about 'Black Lives Matter.' He said he was upset about the recent police shootings. The suspect said he was upset at white people. The suspect said he wanted to kill white people -- especially white officers."
Johnson also reportedly said that authorities would "eventually find the IEDs." That statement led to an extensive sweep of the Dallas area, which has so far turned hasn't turned up any explosives. Brown added, "The suspect stated he was not affiliated with any groups and stated that he did this alone."
Maj. Max Geron of the Dallas Police Department tweeted, "There are extensive sweeps of downtown for explosives underway. This will take quite a while."
Rawlings said that three other suspects are in custody -- two men and one woman. "We're not going to tell you anything about the suspects," the mayor said, citing the continuing investigation. One alleged suspect was involved in a shootout with SWAT officers before being taken into custody at around midnight. Police also arrested a woman who, they said, was in the vicinity of the college parking garage.
DART police officer Brent Thompson was identified as one of the victims killed during Thursday night's ambush. Thompson is the first officer killed in the line of duty since DART formed a police department in 1989. The 43-year-old officer worked for the department since 2009.
Chief James Miller with the DART Police Department said that Thompson married his girlfriend two weeks ago. His page on LinkedIn said that he mentored and taught counterparts in Iraq and Afghanistan in democratic policing. "He came to us from Corsicana PD," said DART spokesman Morgan Lyons. "Well respected and well liked. He was a good officer."
DART officer Misty McBride was one of those who were injured. She was taken to Baylor Medical Center at Dallas and treated for two gunshot wounds -- one in the arm and another in the abdomen -- according to McBride's father, Richard McBride. The 32-year-old officer has worked with DART for about five years. Doctors said she will recover.
A witness outside of Baylor Medical Center at Dallas told CBS 11 News he saw a wounded officer arrive at the hospital. "We were about two blocks away when we saw a cop car with a bullet hole in the door riding on its rims," the man said.
Other injured DART officers were identified as 44-year-old Elmar Cannon and 39-year-old Jesus Retana. They are expected to make a full recovery as well. Brown explained Friday morning that some of the injured officers were already released, but others require additional monitoring. Many of the victims were taken to Parkland Hospital.
Shetamia Taylor was one of the injured civilians. She brought her children to the protest in downtown Dallas, and was struck in the leg while trying to protect her children. When the shooting began, witnesses said that they heard multiple gunshots go off as protestors started running, fearful for their lives. "They were shooting down at police. I saw officers get hit," said protestor Jamal Johnson.
Yet another witness recounted how police officers yelled at her to get down. Myles added that she saw two men who were "super upset" with police right before shots rang out.
Protestors were shocked that the peaceful protest could take such a deadly turn so quickly. "Are they really shooting? This was a peaceful protest," said Myles in disbelief.
Rally organizer Cory Hughes recalled the moment when he heard at least "30 gunshots" go off. "Whoever was shooting had an assault rifle, and I know guns. The shots were in rapid succession," he said. Cory's brother, Mark Hughes was identified as a person of interest late Thursday night. He turned himself in and was released from custody early Friday.
Anyone with information about the attack is asked to call the Dallas Police Department at 214-671-3485 or submit tips online.
"We're hurting," stated Brown. "Our profession is hurting. Dallas officers are hurting. We are heartbroken. There are no words to describe the atrocity the occurred to our city. All I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens."
Public officials have echoed Brown's sentiment in statements of their own.
President Barack Obama said that America was "horrified" by the "twisted" sniper shooting. Even prior to the Dallas ambush on Thursday night, the President said, "To all of law enforcement, I want to be very clear. We know you have a tough job. We mourn those in uniform who are protecting us who lose their lives." Obama ordered U.S. flags across the nation to be lowered to half-staff in honor of the Dallas shooting victims.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Dallas law enforcement community," said Gov. Greg Abbott in a release. "In times like this, we must remember -- and emphasize -- the importance of uniting as Americans." Abbott also ordered Texas flags to be at half-staff after the Dallas shooting.
"During times like this, all Texans must stand united," said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Friday. "Please pray for the families of the officers killed and wounded in the line of duty in this horrific attack. Pray for the men and women in law enforcement across Texas and across our nation. They put their lives on the line every day for us. This is not just a Dallas tragedy, but also a Texas and an America tragedy."
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said, "The loss of the five officers in Dallas in the line of duty is a somber reminder of the heroic sacrifices these brave men and women perform each day to keep us safe. Today, we must all come together to honor their selfless service and sacrifice."
"Our law enforcement officers put themselves in harm's way every day," said Sen. John Cornyn, "and to target those who serve and protect our community in such a senseless and vicious way is shocking and reprehensible."
"This tragedy literally hits close to home. This act of evil and cowardice took place just a few miles away from where my family goes to sleep every night -- a place I've called home for more than 30 years," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling on Friday. "This is a day of mourning, a day of prayer, but it is also a day to say 'thank you' to every man and women who wears the law enforcement uniform."
"Words cannot begin to describe my sorrow for the devastation that Dallas experienced last night," said Rep. Michael Burgess on Friday. "This is not the way to move our country forward."
"Laura and I are heartbroken by the heinous acts of violence in our city last night," said former President George W. Bush on Friday. "We join our fellow citizens in saluting the fine law enforcement officers in Dallas and across the country who put their own lives on the line to keep all lives safe."
Several law enforcement agencies from around the country including Fort Worth, Houston, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles have also been expressing their condolences on social media. You too can show your support by donating to the Dallas Police Association through the 'Assist the Officer' Foundation.
Meanwhile, a significant portion of downtown Dallas remains shut down. Everyone is urged to avoid the area until the crime scene is cleared.
Click here to see what roads are closed. Authorities added that several vehicles remain parked in this restricted area. It will take a few more hours before those cars can be released.
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