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Snipers execute worst police killing in the US since 9/11

Last updated on: July 09, 2016 03:05 IST

The man, named as Micah Xavier Johnson, a 25-year-old Army reservist, was responsible for the deadliest attacks on law enforcers in America since 9/11 – shooting 12, killing 5. 

Five police officers were killed and seven others injured by snipers on Thursday in "ambush style" firing in the US city of Dallas during a protest against the fatal police shootings of black men this week, making it one of the deadliest attacks on law enforcers in America since 9/11.

The main suspect has been identified as 25-year-old Micah Johnson, who was later killed in a blast caused by a robot-controlled explosive device sent in by officers. Johnson was army reservist and Afghan veteran, officials said.

The shooting began near one of the busiest parts of the city's downtown, filled with hotels and restaurants.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown said two snipers fired "ambush style" from an elevated position late last night. The shootings, which police described as a "terrorist incident", sent hundreds of people fleeing through the streets in panic.

Brown said officers cornered one of the suspects and tried to negotiate with him for several hours before talks broke down. After an exchange of gunfire, officers attached explosives to a robot and detonated them near the suspect.

The official said the suspect told negotiators that he was upset about recent shootings involving police officers.

"The suspect said he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers," he said.

The suspect also told police that he was working alone.

"We're hurting. Our profession is hurting. Dallas officers are hurting. We are heartbroken. There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city. All i know is that this must stop -- this divisiveness between our police and our citizens," Brown said.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said police have swept the area where the standoff took place and found no explosives. Police said earlier three other suspects were in custody in connection with the shooting, though Brown said they were still investigating.

"I'm not going to be satisfied until we turn over every stone," he said. "If there's someone out there associated with this, we will find you."

According to the police chief, the suspects have threatened to have placed a bomb in the downtown area and that his department was coordinating with federal agencies.

Six police officers and a civilian injured in the attack.

As the tragic shooting incident continued to unfold, US President Barack Obama was briefed about the incident, according to the White House.

Obama, who is in Warsaw for the NATO Summit, denounced the "despicable" attacks in Dallas.

He ordered flags on all government buildings to be flown at half staff until July 12 to honour the victims.

"There has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement," Obama said, adding that the officers were "targeted" by multiple suspects.

"We are horrified over these events," he said, "and we stand united with the people and the Police Department in Dallas."

Citing statistics that showed black people were far more likely to be arrested and shot by police, Obama said African-Americans are 30 per cent more likely than whites to be pulled over. “After being pulled over, African-Americans and Hispanics are three times more likely to be searched.”

It was the deadliest single attack on law enforcement since the September 2001 terror attacks, when 72 officers died, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Mayor Mike Rawlings said both the White House and Texas Governor Greg Abbott had offered to help. 

Live TV video showed protesters marching along a street in downtown, about half a mile from City Hall, when the shots erupted and the crowd scattered, seeking cover.

Witness Ismael Dejesus said he filmed the shooter from his hotel balcony about 50 yards away. He described the gunman as wearing tactical pants and a tactical shirt. He had a weapon with a “pretty big magazine,” he said.

“He got out of there, walked over to the pillar, put a magazine in and started firing,” he said. “It did look planned. He knew where to stand, he had ammo ready.”

“I was walking next to the officer who was helping with the protest, all of a sudden I saw six to eight shots,” one witness told KTVT. “It looked like two officers went down.”

Marie Saavedra, a reporter with ABC Dallas affiliate WFAA tweeted, “MANY gunshots heard in video I captured in #Dallas, just before 9p as rally marched through downtown.”

Clarissa Myles told CNN affiliate KTVT she eating at McDonalds nearby when the chaos began.

“Everyone was screaming, people were running,” she said. “I saw at least probably 30 shots go off.” 

-- With inputs from Agencies

Seema Hakhu Kachru
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