DALLAS (AP) – An Army veteran killed by Dallas police after the sniper slayings of five officers amassed a personal arsenal at his suburban home, including bomb-making materials, bulletproof vests, rifles, ammunition and a journal of combat tactics, authorities said Friday.
The man identified as 25-year-old Micah Johnson told authorities he was upset about the fatal police shootings of two black men earlier this week and wanted to exterminate whites, “especially white officers,” officials said.READ MORE: Pittsburgh Public Schools: Oliver Citywide Academy To Take 'Trauma-Informed Approach' Following Deadly Shooting Outside School
He was killed by a robot-delivered bomb after the shootings, which marked the deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In all, 12 officers were shot.
In Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee, authorities said gun-wielding civilians also shot officers in individual attacks that came after the black men were killed in Louisiana and Minnesota. Two officers were wounded, one critically.
President Barack Obama and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott asked for the public’s prayers. In a letter posted online Friday, Abbott said “every life matters” and urged Texans to come together.
“In the end,” he wrote, “evil always fails.”
Johnson was a private first class from the Dallas suburb of Mesquite with a specialty in carpentry and masonry. He served in the Army Reserve for six years starting in 2009 and did one tour in Afghanistan from November 2013 to July 2014, the military said.
After the attack, he tried to take refuge in a parking garage and exchanged gunfire with police, Police Chief David Brown said.
The suspect described his motive during negotiations and said he acted alone and was not affiliated with any groups, Brown said.
Johnson was black. Law enforcement officials didn’t disclose the race of the dead officers.
The bloodshed unfolded just a few blocks from where President John F. Kennedy was slain in 1963.
The shooting began Thursday evening while hundreds of people were gathered to protest the killings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and suburban St. Paul, Minnesota. Brown told reporters that snipers fired “ambush-style” on the officers. Two civilians were also wounded.
Authorities initially blamed multiple “snipers” for Thursday’s attack, and at one point said three suspects were in custody. But by Friday afternoon, all attention focused on Johnson, and state and federal officials said the entire attack appeared to be the work of a single gunman.
With the lone shooter dead, Mayor Mike Rawlings declared that the city was safe and “we can move on to healing.” He said the gunman wore a protective vest and used an AR-15 rifle, a weapon similar to the one fired last month in the attack on an Orlando, Florida, nightclub that killed 49 people.
When the gunfire began, the mayor said, about 20 people in the crowd were carrying rifles and wearing protective equipment. That raised early concerns that they might have been involved. But after conducting interviews, investigators concluded all the shots came from the same attacker.
A Texas law enforcement official identified the man killed in the parking garage as Johnson. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he said he was not authorized to release the information.
Around midday, investigators were seen walking in and out of a home believed to be Johnson’s in Mesquite.
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Attorney General Loretta Lynch:
In Washington, the nation’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, called for calm, saying the recent violence can’t be allowed to “precipitate a new normal.”
Lynch said protesters concerned about killings by police should not be discouraged “by those who use your lawful actions as a cover for their heinous violence.”
The other attacks on police included a Georgia man who authorities said called 911 to report a break-in, then ambushed the officer who came to investigate. That sparked a shootout in which both the officer and suspect were wounded but expected to survive.
In suburban St. Louis, a motorist shot an officer at least once as the officer walked back to his car during a traffic stop, police said. The officer was hospitalized in critical condition.
And in Tennessee, a man accused of shooting indiscriminately at passing cars and police on a highway told investigators he was angry about police violence against African-Americans, authorities said.READ MORE: Pittsburgh Weather: 1-2 Inches Of Snow Expected Across Western Pennsylvania On Monday
Video from the Dallas scene showed protesters marching along a downtown street about half a mile from City Hall when shots erupted and the crowd scattered, seeking cover. Officers crouched beside vehicles, armored SWAT team vehicles arrived and a helicopter hovered overhead.
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Demonstrations were held in several other U.S. cities Thursday night to protest the police killings of two more black men: A Minnesota officer on Wednesday fatally shot Philando Castile while he was in a car with a woman and a child, and the shooting’s aftermath was livestreamed in a widely shared Facebook video. A day earlier, Alton Sterling was shot in Louisiana after being pinned to the pavement by two white officers. That, too, was captured on a cellphone video.
The Dallas shootings occurred in an area of hotels, restaurants, businesses and some residential apartments only a few blocks from Dealey Plaza, the landmark made famous by the Kennedy assassination.
The scene was chaotic, with officers with automatic rifles on the street corners.
“Everyone just started running,” Devante Odom, 21, told The Dallas Morning News. “We lost touch with two of our friends just trying to get out of there.”
Carlos Harris, who lives downtown, told the newspaper that the shooters “were strategic. It was tap, tap, pause. Tap, tap, pause,” he said.
Video posted on social media appeared to show a gunman at ground level exchanging fire with a police officer who was then felled.
The mayor said one of the wounded officers had a bullet go through his leg as three members of his squad were fatally shot around him.
“He felt that people don’t understand the danger of dealing with a protest,” said Rawlings, who spoke to the surviving officer. “And that’s what I learned from this. We care so much about people protesting, and I think it’s their rights. But how we handle it can do a lot of things. One of the things it can do is put our police officers in harm’s way, and we have to be very careful about doing that.”
Few details about the slain officers were immediately available.
Four of the dead were with the Dallas Police Department, a spokesman said. One was a Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer. The agency said in a statement that 43-year-old officer Brent Thompson, a newlywed whose bride also works for the police force, was the first officer killed in the line of duty since the agency formed a police department in 1989.
“Our hearts are broken,” the statement said.
Theresa Williams said one of the wounded civilians was her sister, 37-year-old Shetamia Taylor, who was shot in the right calf. She threw herself over her four sons, ages 12 to 17, when the shooting began.
Other protests across the U.S. on Thursday were peaceful, including in New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia. In Minnesota, where Castile was shot, hundreds of protesters marched in the rain from a vigil to the governor’s official residence.
Here in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered all flags to be flown at half-staff. They will remain that way until the interment of all five officers.
He released this statement on the events in Dallas:
“I’m greatly saddened by the horrific acts of violence that have taken place over the past several days. We have to ask ourselves, is this the type of country we want? I believe the answer is no. We must treat each other with compassion and understanding. We must seek to understand each other, our similarities and our differences. And we must never, ever let violence beget violence. When incidents like those in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas happen, it raises concerns and questions, and we must demand change and action. It is unacceptable for people to live in fear because of the color of their skin. There is no justification. Law enforcement has a trying and dangerous job to do, and they keep us safe. As officers were bringing out the best in ourselves by protecting protesters and preserving their right to assemble, they were attacked. There is no justification for that either. All of us must take steps – community leaders, elected officials, public safety professionals, each and every person – to build the country we want so that all people feel safe in their interactions with their fellow citizens. We all must denounce violence unequivocally and embrace peace. We must ensure that justice is served to those who commit attacks and gruesome crimes against fellow citizens and law enforcement. We must demand better of our country and our fellow Americans.”
In the wake of the violence across the country, Pittsburgh officials are also weighing in.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald released this joint statement:
“Today, our nation is in mourning for the deaths of so many in our community. We are hurt, angry, confused and in pain as we struggle to cope with the violence plaguing us. Our answer to the violence in our community cannot be more violence. Pittsburgh’s strength has always been in coming together to solve issues and supporting each other in times of need. We rely on that strength and we need it now more than ever. We have great faith that all of us – residents, communities, law enforcement, activists – have the capacity to come together to heal from our pain and anger, no matter how difficult that may be for us. We can do more to honor the lives of those who were killed by working together to stop the violence and have a more peaceful community.”
Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese Bishop David Zubik released this statement:
“The events of these days have riveted our attention. Hatred, violence and anger are contagious. Our love and respect for one another must be more contagious. Every person is an individual. We must not judge any person based on their race or color, their national origin, their faith tradition, their politics, their sexual orientation, their job, their vocation, their uniform. If someone does something violent, it is imperative for us to reach out to each other in kindness and with respect and refrain from blanket condemnations. We must build bridges. We must tear down walls. We must break the cycle of violence. As Pope Francis tweeted some time ago: ‘The secret of Christian living is love. Only love fills the empty spaces caused by evil.’ There can be no competition for whose life matters most. Every life is precious in the eyes of God. So must it be so for us.”
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