Five Police Officers Dead, Several Hurt at Dallas Protest — 2nd Update

By Dan Molinski in Dallas, Dan Frosch in Denver and Alejandro Lazo in San Francisco 
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DALLAS–Eleven police officers were shot by at least two snipers here Thursday night during a protest over police brutality, leaving five officers dead and wounding six, throwing the city into chaos and turning parts of downtown into a massive crime scene by Friday morning.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown said the snipers had opened fire on officers from “elevated positions” during the protests. A civilian was also wounded.

Three suspects were taken into custody, including a woman.

A fourth suspect exchanged gunfire with police in a tense, hourslong stand-off with police overnight, but that confrontation ended early Friday morning, according to a city spokesperson. Sana Syed, a Dallas public information officer, said she couldn’t confirm the status of the fourth and final suspect, but said “the standoff is over.”

The suspect had told police negotiators that “the end is coming,” and that bombs had been placed around the garage and downtown with the aim of killing more law-enforcement personnel, Chief Brown said, adding that he had asked his staff for a plan to end the standoff.

Police are working on the assumption that all four may have been involved in the attack. It appeared the suspects had knowledge of the protest route, allowing them to take up “triangulated” positions above the march and target officers.

Police were still searching for other suspects over night, just hours before thousand of workers would fill offices, restaurants and shops in the downtown.

“We still don’t have a complete comfort level that we have all the suspects,” Chief Brown said, adding a search of the area was continuing.

Police and city officials said that large areas of downtown would be closed Friday as police continued their investigation.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told Dallas residents to check with a city website and their employers to see if they would have access to their workplaces. Parts of the city are “an active crime scene,” Mayor Rawlings said, “and we are asking you to stay away from that area.”

Police didn’t release the identities of the suspects, and said their motives were unclear. The suspects were being questioned by police, but were uncooperative, Chief Brown said.

Police didn’t know “the answer of why, the motivation, who they are,” Chief Brown said.

Protesters later said they believed the shootings were linked to the national turmoil over police shootings of minorities–most recently two black men in Minnesota and Louisiana in recent days.

In the most recent police shooting, on Wednesday, Philando Castile, a school cafeteria worker, was fatally shot after being pulled over for a traffic stop in a suburb of Minneapolis and St. Paul, in Minnesota. The aftermath of that shooting was captured on video and livestreamed by the man’s girlfriend, sparking renewed anger over police brutality, and protests across the country on Thursday.

Mayor Rawlings called for unity. “We as a city, we as a country must come together and lock arms and heal the wounds that we all feel from time to time,” he said. “It’s a heartbreaking morning to lose these four officers.” Later authorities confirmed another officer had died, taking the toll to five.

Police said they apprehended two of the suspects, one of whom was carrying a camouflage bag, after an officer observed them speeding away from the area of the shooting in a black Mercedes.

Dallas Police also said “a suspicious package” had been discovered near the second suspect’s location and was “being secured” by the Dallas bomb squad.

Among the officers killed was Brent Thompson, a 43-year-old transit officer for the Dallas Area Rapid Transit, or DART. He joined the agency in 2009, and was the first DART officer killed in the line of duty, according to a statement released over Twitter by the transit agency.

Two Dallas police officers died following the attack after being rushed to local hospitals.

At least one of the wounded police officers was taken to Dallas’s Parkland Memorial Hospital.

Police had the hospital on virtual lockdown, carrying rifles, wearing bulletproof vests, and searching vehicles entering the emergency room drop-off area amid concerns of follow-up attacks on police.

“I’ve never been more proud of a police department, seeing the courage, professionalism and grit to stay on scene knowing we are vulnerable,” Chief Brown said.

President Obama was updated on the shooting, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

The protest had started out peacefully enough Thursday evening at Belo Park, downtown, one of a series of rallies against police brutality across the country from Chicago to New York. The crowd, which included families, then walked down city streets and sidewalks–many with their hands up in a gesture of surrender that has become common at such protests.

There was a heavy, and friendly, police presence. Dallas police didn’t report any arrests, and said they were there to “maintain traffic control” and “ensure the safety of demonstrators.” They also posed for photos with protesters, including one–posted to the police department’s official Twitter account–with a smiling man holding a sign that said “No Justice, No Peace.”

But as crowds marched along sidewalks, chanting and holding signs, the protest was suddenly interrupted by a barrage of gunfire, sending people fleeing through the streets and taking cover.

Devante Odom, 21, took part in the march in downtown Dallas, posting two videos of the evening to his Facebook page.

The first, before the shooting begins, features protesters marching and shouting “whose streets, our streets,” “no peace,” “hands up-don’t shoot” and “black lives matter.”

The second video shows the chaos in the aftermath of the shooting, a shaky video displaying crowds of confused people spreading through streets.

In a telephone interview, Mr. Odom said he was about 20 or 30 yards from the front of the protest when he said he saw people from the front of the crowd turn around toward him and start to run. At first, he wasn’t sure what was happening.

“I see a crowd of people just turn around and start running,” Mr. Odom said. “I thought somebody was running people over, I was just trying to get off the street, and then I heard: ‘there is a shooter, there is a shooter.’”

Mr. Odom said he ran through city streets as police helicopters roared overhead and police shouted, directing the crowd in different directions.

Mr. Odom said he reached the Omni Dallas Hotel, and across from that hotel he witnessed a police officer who had been shot in the leg being attended to by emergency personnel. He then ran around the perimeter of the hotel where he and others encountered several police with rifles.

The police ushered him and others into a stairwell that lead to a basement near the hotel and that is where he waited out the chaos with about 30 other people, he said.

Marcus Carter, 33, a Dallas cook, says he was hit in the face by flying chips of cement as the bullets hit the pavement and sidewalk near the city’s West End Station.

He said as the shooting started, panic took over, with people and police running for cover.

“After the shooting ended there were people in the train arriving to the station and I yelled at them to stay in the train, not to get out at the station.”

Michelle Lavonier, 40, San Francisco, was staying at the Crowne Plaza on Elm Street in Dallas with her 13-year-old daughter when she heard the gunshots.

“We heard the shots, they were incessant, there must have been 75, no joke,” she said. “They just kept going and going and going. And the police sirens were almost immediate.”

She posted a video of police cars swarming onto a scene from her hotel window. Shortly after, the front desk of her hotel called warning to stay away from the windows of the hotel.

Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood, who told CBS DFW he was walking at the front of the protest, said he saw two officers fall down and immediately turned around.

“I was screaming ‘Run, run, run, active shooter, active shooter.’ We felt like at any moment you could just see bullets coming off the parking garage so we just kept running.”

As the night wore on, the city quieted and some calm seemed to return to the streets.

Jarissa Dotson, 26 years old, who works in finance in a Dallas suburb, said she and her cousin came to the protest to effect change but feel that the goal has now been shattered by the cop killers. She was about 100 feet away from where the shooting happened and ran along with everyone else as the bullets rang out.

“Our intention was to band together, to have our voices be heard, to influence change to the system,” she said. “But we’ve now been robbed of all of this.”

Still, she says it clearly appears the officers in Louisiana and Minnesota murdered the black men. “But I want justice against them, those cops that were involved. Not any cop at all.”

Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Byron Tau, Neil King, Scott Calvert and Alejandro Lazo contributed to this article.

Write to Tamara Audi at tammy.audi[a]wsj.com

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