As it happened: 5 officers killed in Dallas shooting, Obama says US ‘horrified’

  • Reuters, Dallas
  • Updated: Jul 08, 2016 16:16 IST
Dallas Police respond after shots were fired at a Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Dallas. (AP)

Five police officers were fatally shot and seven wounded in one of the worst shootings of police in recent US history, by snipers who targeted them during rallies in Dallas to protest against the fatal shooting of two black men by police this week.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown told a news conference that two snipers in elevated positions shot 11 officers, killing five, in what appeared to be a coordinated attack. Some of the victims were shot in the back.

3:55 pm: No explosives found in downtown Dallas after primary and secondary sweeps, said Reuters quoting a police spokesman.

2:50 pm US President Barack Obama on Friday denounced the “despicable” attacks in Dallas in which snipers shot dead five police officers during a protest against police shootings of black men.

“There has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement,” Obama said during a press conference at a NATO summit in Warsaw, adding that the officers were “targeted” by multiple suspects.

1:50pm: A suspect involved in the standoff with Dallas Police is dead, said Reuters quoted the Dallas Morning News.

1:30pm: Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has identified its officer who was fatally shot when snipers opened fire during a downtown Dallas protest.

DART said early Friday morning that 43-year-old officer Brent Thompson was killed in the Thursday night shootings. He’d joined the DART Police Department in 2009. DART says he’s the first officer killed in the line of duty since the agency formed a police department in 1989. The statement says “our hearts are broken.”

DART says the other three DART police officers shot during the protest are expected to recover from their injuries. Also killed during the shootings were four Dallas police officers.

12:40pm: A family member says a protester who was shot when snipers opened fire on police at a rally in Dallas was shielding her sons when she was injured.

A sister of 37-year-old Shetamia Taylor says Taylor was at the protests Thursday night with her four sons, ages 12 to 17. Theresa Williams says that when the shooting began, Taylor threw herself over her sons. She was undergoing surgery early Friday after being shot in the right calf.

12:35pm: Texas governor Greg Abbott says he’s cutting short an out-of-state trip to go to Dallas. He said in a release early Friday morning that he would be heading directly to Dallas. The shootings happened Thursday night in downtown Dallas.

12:31 pm :

US President Barack Obama, visiting Poland for a summit of the NATO defence alliance, was briefed on the shooting of police officers in Dallas, Texas, in which snipers killed at least four policemen, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

“The president has been updated on the shooting of police officers in Dallas,” Earnest told reporters. “He asked his team to keep him updated on the situation as they get additional information.”

12 PM : Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he’s cutting short an out-of-state trip to go to Dallas after four police officers were killed and seven others injured when snipers opened fire during protests.

Abbott said in a release early Friday morning that he would be heading directly to Dallas. The shootings happened Thursday night in downtown Dallas.

Abbott also says he’s spoken with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings to express his condolences and offer any assistance the city needs.

US Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said in a statement that “our thoughts and prayers go out to these officers and their families, and to those who have been injured.” He said his office is in close contact with local authorities and will be offering to provide whatever support they can to help victims and bring the “perpetrators to justice.”

11:55 am:

Dallas police say a person of interest whose picture had been circulated has turned himself in. Police earlier had circulated a picture of a man in a camouflage T-shirt who carrying a long gun.

Police had no update on whether that person was indeed a suspect.

A man who identified himself as the brother of the man whose photo was circulated says his brother was not one of the shooters. He told television station KTVT that once the shootings had started, his brother had turned the gun over to a police officer.

11:30 am :

Dallas Police Chief David Brown says three people are in custody after snipers opened fire on police officers during protests and says a fourth person is exchanging gunfire with officers.

Brown said that authorities are negotiating with a suspect in a downtown parking garage who has been exchanging gunfire with officials. The chief said the suspect is not cooperating and has told negotiators he intends to hurt more law enforcement officials.

11:25 am:

AFP quoted officials as saying a suspect in a deadly shooting warned negotiators there were “bombs all over the place” in downtown Texas, officials said.

Brown earlier told a news conference that two snipers in elevated positions shot 11 officers, killing three, in what appeared to be a coordinated attack. A fourth officer died, police said later on Twitter. At least one more was in surgery. Some of the victims were shot in the back.

“Our worst nightmare has happened,” Mike Rawlings, mayor of the Texas city, told a news conference. “It is a heartbreaking moment for the city of Dallas.”

Television footage showed a heavy police presence, with officers taking cover behind vehicles on the street.

The shooting happened as largely peaceful protests unfolded around the United States after the shooting of Philando Castile, 32, by police near St. Paul, Minnesota, late on Wednesday. His girlfriend posted live video on the internet of the bloody scene minutes afterward, which was widely viewed.

Castile’s death occurred within a day of the shooting of Alton Sterling, 37, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Sterling was killed during an altercation with two white police officers. Graphic video of that incident caused an outcry on social media.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Dallas law enforcement community and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit officers killed and injured this evening,” Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement.

In Chicago, protesters shut down a stretch of the Dan Ryan Expressway - one of Chicago’s main arteries - for about 10 minutes on Thursday.

In New York, several hundred protesters blocked traffic in Times Square in the heart of Manhattan, chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot.” More than a dozen arrests were made, the New York Police Department said.

In St. Paul, about a thousand people gathered outside the governor’s mansion, chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, those killer cops have got to go,” and other slogans.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton made a brief appearance in an attempt to quell the crowd. He said earlier a state investigation was already under way.

“Would this have happened if the driver and the passengers were white? I don’t think it would have,” Dayton told reporters, speaking of the Castile shooting.

“So I’m forced to confront that this kind of racism exists, and it’s incumbent upon all of us to vow and ensure that it doesn’t happen and doesn’t continue to happen,” he said.

State investigators later identified Minneapolis area police officer Jeronimo Yanez as the patrolman who fatally shot Castile during a traffic stop.

“Racial disparities: Obama”

US President Barack Obama described the killings as tragedies.

“All of us as Americans should be troubled by these shootings, because these are not isolated incidents. They’re symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system,” he said after arriving in Poland for a NATO summit.

The use of force by police against African-Americans in cities from Ferguson, Missouri, to Baltimore and New York has sparked periodic and sometimes violent protests in the past two years and has spawned the Black Lives Matter movement.

Anger has intensified when the officers involved in such incidents have been acquitted in trials or not charged at all.

“I was already fuming when I woke up this morning over Baton Rouge, but for it to happen here again just pushed me right over the edge,” said truck driver Thomas Michaels, 42, who was among the protesters in St. Paul.

“We live in a racist society where black lives don’t matter, my kids lives don’t matter and I’m sick of it. I don’t even know if it can be fixed,” he said.

Another protester, retail worker Tanya McDonald, 28, said: “What gets me is how many people are failing to see that this is happening almost every day. We’re dying, we’re being killed off by people hiding behind a badge and no one’s doing anything to stop it.”

The Washington Post said Castile was at least the 506th person and 123rd black American shot and killed by police so far in 2016, according to a database it has set up to track such deaths.

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