As a peaceful protest over the fatal police shootings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana was winding down Thursday night in Dallas, police officers were ambushed in a shooting that left five dead. Before he was killed by a police bomb in a standoff, 25-year-old suspect Micah Xavier Johnson said he was upset about recent police shootings and wanted to kill "especially white officers."
Now some local leaders are pointing out that the targeting of Dallas officers was ironic as well as tragic. The Dallas police department has received praise in the past for its community outreach efforts and transparency.
"We did community policing before anybody, we had de-escalation training before anyone. We had this year the lowest amount of police involved shootings than any major city in the country, and so it's very ironic that our police were protecting those that were exercising their freedom of speech and they lost their lives doing their jobs," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said Friday on "CBS This Morning."
Seven other police officers and two civilians were wounded in the attack.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown pleaded for support in a news conference Monday morning.
"Please join me in applauding these brave men and women who do this job under great scrutiny, under great vulnerability. Who literally risk their lives to protect our democracy," Brown said. "We don't feel much support most days. Let's not make today most days. Please, we need your support to be able to protect you from men like these who carried out this tragic, tragic event."
Former Dallas police officer Pete Schulte, who visited one of the wounded officers at the hospital, said most of the cops were shot while advancing toward the gunfire.
"I don't think people understand what these officers do when they put on their badge and gun every day. They're not out to go try to shoot people, they go out to help people," Schulte said. "That's what they were doing last night -- they were having a protest, they were engaging, they were taking pictures with the marchers going down and all of a sudden, the gunshots rang out and they saw one suspect."
One of the organizers helping lead the peaceful protest Thursday night was Pastor Michael Waters. He said he was not aware of anything at the rally that might have set off the violence.
"In fact, the police officers who accompanied us did a tremendous job in ensuring that we were safe," Waters said. "We were in direct conversation and collaboration to make sure that all persons who participated in the march stayed within the bounds of that march."
Former Dallas cop John Matthews, now the executive director of Community Safety Institute, said Dallas law enforcement overall had a "positive" relationship with minority communities.
"I think for several decades we've been working on building that community partnership and building that trust," Matthews said.
Matthews acknowledged that citizens across the country are upset about recent police shootings, not only from this past week in Louisiana and Minnesota, but over the past few years.
"But there's a way you can express your opinion about that," Matthews said. "There's a way you can reach out to your local law enforcement and build some bridges. You don't arm yourself with weapons and attack and ambush officers during a peaceful demonstration."