The brazen attack in downtown Dallas that killed five police officers and injured nine other people was the act of a lone gunman, an Afghanistan veteran drawn to Black Power symbology and a determination to kill white people, authorities concluded Friday.
“This was a mobile shooter that has written manifestos on how to shoot and move. He did that. He did his damage. But we did our damage to him, as well,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said after police carefully questioned and ruled out other potential suspects in the Thursday night rampage.
Investigators discovered bomb-making materials, rifles and a “personal journal of combat tactics” in the home of the black former Army reservist who struck during a demonstration against the shooting of two black men by police officers in Minnesota and Louisiana.
Authorities identified the gunman as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, a Dallas-area resident, a “loner” with no criminal history who “wanted to kill white people” and “especially white officers,” police said.
“He appears to have been a lone gunman, and at this point, we cannot see any connections to any foreign or international terrorist organization, or any inspiration from them,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said.
The shootings marked the deadliest attack on law enforcement since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and renewed the racial wounds that have opened up with increasing frequency across the country in the wake of a series of controversial police shootings.
“There has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement,” said President Obama, who was preparing to cut short his trip to Poland for a NATO summit. “There is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks, or any violence against law enforcement. Justice will be done.”
Police detonated a bomb robot to kill Johnson after they cornered him in a garage early Friday morning – an unprecedented technique for American law enforcement, but one that troops have used in Iraq to attack targets with mines.
Before his death, Johnson “bantered” with police negotiators, a federal official said, adding that the suspect appeared to have been preparing for the assault, and did not appear nervous. At one point, the gunman had told officials, “The end is coming, and he’s going to hurt and kill more of us,” Dallas Police Chief David Brown said.
“This was a well-planned, well-thought-out, evil tragedy,” the police chief said.
The mayor added: “This was a man we gave plenty of options to, to give himself up peacefully, and we spent a lot of time talking. He had a choice to come out and we would not harm him, or stay in and we would. He picked the latter.”
Police around the nation went on alert after Thursday’s shooting, with some departments ordering officers to get a partner for their patrols. Isolated shooting attacks on police Friday also raised jitters.
In Valdosta, Ga., a man called 911 on Friday to report a car break-in and thenambushed a police officer that left both the officer and the suspect wounded.
In a separate incident outside Atlanta, a police officer escaped injury Friday when a passing vehicle pulled up and a gunman fired multiple rounds at the officer, all of them missing. A suspect was later apprehended after a brief car chase.
And in a St. Louis suburb, an officer sustained critical injuries after being shot during a confrontation with a motorist. Police said the suspected shooter ran from the scene but was later apprehended.
Of the dozen officers shot – 10 men and two women – eight are Dallas police and four are Dallas Area Rapid Transit officers, officials said. Two civilians were also among the injured.
“They know the city is grieving with them,” Rawlings said.
Among those killed was DART Officer Brent Thompson, 34, who had worked for the department since 2009. He was the department’s first officer to be killed in the line of duty.
Among the four Dallas Police Department officers shot was Iraq war veteran and 32-year-old father Patrick Zamarripa, who enlisted just before the Sept. 11 attacks. He was identified on social media by family members.
The names of the other victims had not been officially released Friday afternoon, but local media identified them as Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, 48, Officer Michael Krol, 40 and Sgt. Michael J. Smith, 55.
Rawlings said that when he met with the wounded officers, he expressed support on behalf of the city and also made them a promise: “We’ll get the bad guys.”
U.S. Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch said federal agencies are cooperating in the investigation.
“We intend to provide any assistance that we can to investigate the attack and also to help heal a community that has been severely shaken and deeply scarred by an unfathomable tragedy,” Lynch said at a news conference in Washington.
“Our hearts are broken by this loss,” she said.
The protest that was underway when the shooting began involved about 800 people marching through downtown and was flanked by about 100 police officers — then the gunfire began.
“It was a peaceful protest, no question about it. The entire thing was peaceful,” said the Rev. Jeff Hood, who had helped organize the demonstration.
He said they were marching in front of several hundred people when he heard rapid-fire gunshots.
“Immediately I looked up and saw two police officers that had gone down,” he said. “I saw it. I mean, I saw people drop. I knew.”
Outside City Hall on Friday, activists said they did not recognize Johnson or his name, and had never seen him at a protest.
“Never in our wildest dreams would we think our efforts to save lives would take lives,” protest organizer Dominique Alexander said.
At least three other people were taken into custody in connection with the shooting Thursday night, but they were later released.
Officials had initially reported that multiple snipers opened fire on police, but Rawlings said Friday that Johnson was the “lone gunman in this incident,” and federal investigators concurred.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also said he had “no information about any co-conspirators.”
But he said police are working hard to “button down every corner” before they rule out the possibility that he had help.
“What we don’t know is who, if anybody, may have known what the gunman knew, what he was going to do, may have assisted him in any of his efforts,” the governor said.
At one point, the gunman had told officials “the end is coming, and he’s going to hurt and kill more of us,” Brown said.
Johnson had no ties to terror groups, a U.S. law enforcement official said, but on Facebook, Johnson expressed an interest in black separatist groups such as the New Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam and the Black Riders Liberation Party, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which describes the organizations as “hate groups.”
Brown, the police chief, said a hostage negotiator spoke with Johnson at length before he was killed about 2:30 a.m. Friday morning.
“The suspect said we will eventually find the IEDs,” Brown said, a reference to explosives. “He wanted to kill officers. And he expressed killing white people, killing white officers, he expressed anger for Black Lives Matter.”
“We saw no other option than to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension to detonate where the suspect was,” Brown said. “Other options would have exposed our officers to grave danger.”
Brown said reports that the suspect shot himself were incorrect. “The suspect is deceased as a result of detonating the bomb,” he said.