Snipers Kill Police at Black Lives Matter Rally in Dallas

Five cops were shot to death and six others were wounded during the protest. One suspect vowed to kill more during a standoff.

Dallas police move to detain a driver after a shooting in downtown Dallas, Thursday, July 7, 2016. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Police move to detain a driver after a shooting in downtown Dallas, July 7th. | Photo by LM Otero/AP

What started as a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas ended in a staggering amount of chaos and bloodshed on Thursday night as at least two snipers opened fire in an apparently premeditated attack on local police officers.

Thunderous gunshots began echoing through the city’s downtown area shortly before 9 p.m., according to video and audio footage that quickly spread on social media. Dallas Police Chief David Brown told reporters at a late-night news conference that the shooters had triangulated near cops and unleashed a torrent of gunfire from an elevated position.

Police said five officers were fatally shot, and six others were wounded. One civilian — later identified by family as a mother who was at the march with her sons — was also wounded. Brown had to cut short his remarks to the media; the gunmen were still on the loose, and investigators were trying to determine if the snipers had also planted explosive devices somewhere downtown.

Dallas authorities released photos of one man who was initially deemed a person of interest in the devastating attack; he was shown clearly carrying an assault rifle at the protest. He soon turned himself in, however, and news reports emerged indicating that he was not involved in the incident.

Shortly before 12:30 a.m., authorities announced that a suspect who had exchanged gunfire with police was in custody, and a suspicious package was being investigated by the Dallas Police Department’s Bomb Squad.

An hour later, Brown offered a disturbing update: The number of potential suspects involved in the attack had grown to four, including one man who vowed to end a 45-minute standoff with cops at a downtown garage with even more terror. “The suspect … has told our negotiators that the end is coming, and he’s coming to hurt and kill more of us,” Brown said. The shooter, who traded gunfire with Dallas police, allegedly claimed that there were bombs throughout the garage and downtown Dallas.

Brown said a female suspect was in custody, along with the two men who were in the Mercedes per the tweet above. He said it was investigators’ assumption that those three people and the gunman in the garage had all worked together to plan and carry out the ambush.

The chief said the shooters seemed to have “some knowledge” of the protest route, but it was unclear if they were affiliated in any way with the activists who marched through the city on Thursday evening.

An eyewitness, Ismael DeJesus, recorded footage from his hotel window of one of the snipers fatally shooting a Dallas police officer near a pillar of a building across the street. DeJesus told CNN that the gunman had “high-capacity” magazines, some of which tumbled out of his pockets. DeJesus said he thought the man was wearing body armor under his clothes; he claimed the officer shot the man in the back, “but it didn’t faze him.”

The stunning violence played out against a backdrop of sky-high tensions across the country in the wake of a pair of incredibly controversial shootings by police. Protesters took to the streets in Philadelphia and many other cities on Wednesday night in response to shocking video footage of police in Baton Rouge fatally shooting a 37-year-old Louisiana man named Alton Sterling while he was pinned on the ground. The outrage over that incident was still simmering when footage emerged of Philando Castile, a school nutrition worker in Saint Paul, Minnesota, bleeding heavily after he’d been fatally shot in a car by a Minnesota policer officer. Protesters again took to the streets in cities throughout the U.S. Thursday. In Philadelphia, demonstrators were peaceful.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings called for unity as the shock over Thursday night’s slaughter gave way to heartache early Friday morning. “It’s heartbreaking to lose these four officers who proudly served our citizens,” he said. “To say that our police officers put their lives on the line every day is no hyperbole. It’s a reality. We, as a city, we as a country, must come together, lock arms and heal the wounds that we all feel from time to time.”

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