Police: Dallas gunman ID’d as Micah Johnson; said he wanted to ‘kill white officers’
“The suspect said he was upset at white people. The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers,” Dallas Police Chief David Brown said at a news conference. “The suspect said he was upset about Black Lives Matter. He said he was upset about the recent police shootings.”
Johnson allegedly opened fire Thursday night on what had up to that point been a peaceful demonstration over the police shooting deaths of black men this week in Minnesota and Louisiana.
The hail of gunfire sent the demonstrators screaming in terror and a police manhunt culminated with the suspect cornered by police in a downtown Dallas parking garage. After hours of attempted negotiations failed, Brown said police sent in the robot bomb to protect more officers from harm.
Robotics expert Peter W. Singer told the Associated Press this is the first instance of a robot being used to kill a suspect. Brown said he say no other way to ensure the safety of his officers.
Brown said that during their standoff, Johnson told officers he was acting alone, but police said investigators are still trying to identify other potential assailants. The chief declined to provide specifics. “We’re going to keep these suspects guessing,” Brown said.
A profile of Johnson began to emerge Friday as media outlets dug into public records and scoured his social media profile pages for possible clues to what triggered the deadly attack. Police have so far not released any details on a motive for the ambush and shooting.
According to an Army spokesperson, Johnson served in the Army Reserve from March 2009 until April 2015. Records list his occupational specialty as a carpentry and masonry specialist. He was deployed to Afghanistan in November 2013 and July 2014 which earned him a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal among other awards.
A Facebook photo dated April 30 of this year shows Johnson pictured with Professor Griff of the hip-hop group Public Enemy, known for its politically charged music and critique of police treatment of the African American community. A 1989 single title “Fight The Power” is the group’s best known song.
October 2010 photos on Johnson’s mother’s Facebook page show a young man dressed in U.S. Army fatigues posing with a pistol. It could not be immediately confirmed if the soldier is Johnson. Johnson’s most recent address is listed as a home belonging to his mother, located in the suburb of Mesquite about 20 miles outside downtown Dallas.
The collage below appeared on the Facebook page of Johnson’s sister, Nicole Johnson, who posted several times on her page to express disbelief over her brother’s apparent role in the tragedy.
“I keep saying its not true…my eyes hurt from crying. Y him???” Nicole wrote in a post. “And why was he downtown smh”
“We may fuss or fight but at the end of the day i love him!!,” she wrote. “He’s definitely army strong but also a entertaining, loving, understanding, not to mention handsome friend, brother, son and etc!! Idk what I’d do without him. Happy Birthday my homeskillet biscuit!!!!
#Still waiting for you to return home!”
Fourteen people in all were wounded in Thursday night’s ambush. The victims included two civilians.
Brown said Thursday night that police believed the attack was coordinated among as many as six snipers, who, “working together with rifles, triangulated at elevated positions in different points in the downtown area where the march ended up going.”
Members of the police department had met with protest organizers several times before the event, Brown said at an earlier, overnight news conference and the tenor of the march was peaceful.
“We have yet to determine whether or not there was some complicity with the planning of this, but we will be pursuing that,” Brown said.
There was confusion early on in the investigation and in its efforts to quickly identify a suspect, police posted a photo of a gun-toting man who was later found to be the brother of one of the demonstration’s organizers. The man, identified as Mark Hughes, turned himself into police when he realized he had been identified as a person of interest and was released after being questioned for about 30 minutes, CBS News reported.
“I could easily have been shot,” Hughes told the network. He was interviewed in Dallas with his brother Cory Hughes. Both were downtown to participate in the protest.
Mark Hughes was carrying an AR-15-like gun on a shoulder holster, which is legal in Texas. After shots rang out downtown, Corey Hughes said, “I told my brother, give your gun to [police] because we don’t want an accident.”
Witnesses posted several videos and images from the attack, in which several rounds of rapid gunfire can be heard as pedestrians run screaming for cover.
Witnesses said they believed that the shooter or shooters ambushed officers from a multi-story parking garage.
“The cops had no idea who was shooting at them,” Jamal Johnson told KTVT-TV in Dallas. “Everyone knew it wasn’t a firework — it was an actual shot.”
The shooting broke out just hours after President Obama — reacting to the shootings deaths of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana this week — posted an emphatic message on Facebook calling upon all Americans to confront persistent racial disparities between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
“To admit we’ve got a serious problem in no way contradicts our respect and appreciation for the vast majority of police officers who put their lives on the line to protect us every single day,” he wrote. “It is to say that, as a nation, we can and must do better to institute the best practices that reduce the appearance or reality of racial bias in law enforcement.”
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said the White House and Texas governor’s office both called to offer support.
“It is a heartbreaking morning to lose these four officers,” a visibly shaken Rawlings said prior to the fifth fatality. “To say police officers put their life on the line every day is no hyperbole ladies and gentlemen, it’s a reality. We as a city, we as a country must come together and lock arms and heal the wounds we all feel from time to time.”
Police were requesting that all citizens clear downtown streets in the aftermath of the shooting, but pockets of citizens continued to confront officers on city streets during the wee hours of the morning. The Omni Dallas Hotel, located a few blocks from the mayhem, displayed “Back The Blue” in gigantic neon letters around its building.
(This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.)