Sniper attack in Dallas - Eleven officers shot, five dead

Friday, 8 July, 2016 - 12:15

Five officers have been killed after at least eleven officers were shot by snipers in downtown Dallas, Texas, in one of the worst mass police shootings in US history.

The shootings, carried out by two snipers from elevated positions, occurred at around 9 p.m. Thursday as a protest rally was drawing to an end. Hundreds of people had gathered downtown Dallas to protest the police shootings of two African-American men in as many days in Minnesota and Louisiana.

A large number of police vehicles and personnel gathered at the sprawling crime scene.
"We believe that these suspects were positioning themselves in a way to triangulate on these officers from two different perches in garages in the downtown area, and planned to injure and kill as many law enforcement officers as they could," Police chief David Brown said. "Some were shot in the back."

Police said that officers had three suspects in custody and that a suspicious package was found at a suspect's location. The arrests were made following an exchange of gunfire with Dallas SWAT teams.

Police had earlier posted the photo of a man on Twitter, describing him as one of the suspects.

Brown later said that officers were negotiating with a shooting suspect at a garage near El Centro College. The suspect told officers that bombs have been planted in multiple locations and that "the end is coming." The chief said the suspect had exchanged gunfire with police and vowed to kill more officers.

Police are trying to arrest the suspect alive and make him give information about other suspects and their plans.

Bomb squad teams are sweeping the downtown in search of possible bombs.

The man, who was initially identified as a person of interest in the photo, turned himself in for questioning.

Texas Governor Greg Abbot said he had directed the state public safety director to offer whatever assistance was needed in Dallas.

“In times like this we must remember - and emphasize - the importance of uniting as Americans,” he stated.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (AFT) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have joined the investigation.

The US Federal Aviation Administration restricted airspace over Dallas following the deadly shootings.

“No pilots may operate an aircraft in the areas covered by this NOTAM,” it said in a notice. “Only relief aircraft operations under direction of Dallas Police Department are authorized in the airspace.”

The Dallas rally was part of demonstrations in several other cities in reaction to the fatal police shootings of Philando Castile in a St. Paul suburb on Wednesday and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge the day before.

The officers were targeted hours after President Barack Obama slammed the use of force by police, saying all Americans should be troubled by the recent shootings of African Americans.

“These are not isolated incidents,” Obama said. “They’re symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system. And I just want to give people a few statistics to try to put in context why emotions are so raw around these issues.”

Speaking in Poland, Obama said the people of color were right to feel that they are not being treated the same as whites.

“To be concerned about these issues is not political correctness. It’s just being an American,” the president said. “And to recognize the reality that we got some tough history and we haven’t gotten through that history yet.”

Obama also addressed the growing protests in several cities following the police-involved incidents.

“I would just ask those who question the sincerity or the legitimacy of protests and vigils and expressions of outrage…. I just ask folks to step back and think,” he said. “What if this happened to somebody in your family? How would you feel?”

Police initially said that four officers had lost their lives in the gunfire. A fifth officer later died in hospital.