Five officers were killed and six others injured Thursday night in downtown Dallas after a protest over two recent fatal police shootings. A suspect was reported dead early this morning.
Gunfire broke out around 8:45 p.m. Thursday. Protesters were marching along a street in downtown when the shots erupted and the crowd scattered, seeking cover. Scores of police and security officers were on hand.
At a 12:30 a.m. news conference, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said one suspect was cornered in a garage. The suspect has told police negotiators "that the end is coming," Brown told reporters.
“[He told us] he’s going to hurt and kill more of us, meaning law enforcement, and that there are bombs all over the place across downtown so we are careful in our tactics so we don’t injure or put officers in harm’s way, including citizens of Dallas," Brown said. Three hours later, The Dallas Morning News reported that suspect was dead.
Brown says the snipers fired upon officers "ambush style" from "elevated positions" at the end of the march.
“We believe that these suspects were positioning themselves in a way to triangulate on these officers from two different [areas] in garages in the downtown area and planned to injure and kill as many law enforcement officers as they could,” Brown said.
Late Thursday night, a suspect was in custody and a person of interest had surrendered. Dallas police were questioning two occupants of a vehicle after an officer saw a person throw a bag into the back of the vehicle and speed off.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told reporters that Thursday night was "a heartbreaking moment for the city of Dallas."
“At 8:58, our worst nightmare happened,” Rawlings said. “Our … officers were fired upon by shooters.”
He continued: "I ask everybody focus on one thing right now and that is Dallas police officers, their families, those who are deceased, those who are in the hospital fighting for their lives. Let’s all come together in support of our police officers.”
Brown said people involved in the shootings will be "brought to justice."
Dallas police asked residents to call 214-671-3485 with any information about the shootings.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit reports on Twitter that four DART transit officers were among the officers shot and that one officer -- 43-year-old Brent Thomposon -- is among the dead.
It has been a devastating night. We are sad to report a fifth officer has died.— Dallas Police Depart (@DallasPD) July 8, 2016
'I don't know what happened ... I was taking cover'
Javier Giribet-Vargas, a KERA intern, was covering the protests when the shots began. “I don’t know what happened, but by the Bank of America building, there was a shooting; I ran, I dropped my phone."
Dozens of Dallas police cars arrived immediately. Officers were out in force, wearing helmets, shields and holding assault weapons.
"I was taking cover and I could hear on the police radio that there was an injured person who was shot in the chest and that the suspects could have been in a black SUV," Giribet-Vargas says. "The police were saying through the radio that the shots might have come from the parking garage of one of the buildings."
'Our hearts are broken'
The first victim identification came early Friday morning: DART officer Thompson had joined the DART Police Department in 2009.
DART says he's the first officer killed in the line of duty since the agency formed a police department in 1989. The statement says "our hearts are broken."
DART says the other three DART police officers shot during the protest are expected to recover.
DART grieving the loss of Ofc Brent Thompson, 43, killed during Thurs protest. First DART officer killed in line of duty. Joined DART 2009.— dartmedia (@dartmedia) July 8, 2016
Person of interest surrenders
Dallas police say a person of interest whose picture had been circulated has turned himself in.
Police earlier had circulated a picture of a man in a camouflage T-shirt who carrying a long gun.
Police had no update on whether that person was indeed a suspect. However, Brown said authorities had three people in custody. One is a woman and two are people who were in a car stopped on a road.
A man who identified himself as the brother of the man whose photo was circulated says his brother was not one of the shooters. He told television station KTVT that once the shootings had started, his brother had turned the gun over to a police officer.
Shutdowns expected in downtown Friday morning
Dallas officials ask residents to visit dallascitynews.net before heading to work Friday morning. Parts of downtown Dallas may be closed due to it being an "active crime scene."
El Centro College
El Centro College in downtown Dallas was placed on lockdown for several hours Thursday night. At 1 a.m. Friday, the lockdown was still in effect. Around 2 a.m., the lockdown was lifted. College officials didn't know the number of students and employees who were in the buildings. The college will be closed on Friday.
Hundreds of people had been marching through downtown Dallas to protest the recent fatal police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota. Rawlings says 800 people were demonstrating, and that 100 officers were at the scene.
Dee Smith was downtown with three friends for the protest, which she described as peaceful.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” Smith told KERA. “We did see, it was a cop, parked his car next to up and drew his gun and took off running. And right after that we heard gun shots. We didn’t know what happened, we just know we were trying to get away from the danger.”
Carl Davis from Dallas was heading to work in downtown. He got off a bus when he entered chaos.
“And when I stepped off, I saw all the cops, and all the sudden I heard the pop, pop, pop, pop and all the sudden I started running, started trying to slide behind some little cover right quick," Davis said. "I went to the [Rosa Parks] Center over there and the next thing you know, they had us come out, and we’re over here now.”
Dozens of police cars scrambled to the scene. They're now stationed in downtown. Officers were taking cover at the scene. They were huddled behind their squad cars. Police were keeping reporters back and cautioning them to take cover.
State Sen. Royce West told KDFW-TV, Fox 4, that he was at the rally and that it was peaceful. He suggested outsiders were there to “disrupt what was a peaceful rally.”
Shooting aired live on Facebook
KDFW just interviewed a witness, Michael Bautista, who heard gunshots and saw bullets hit police cars. “It’s just been very crazy tonight. It feels like a war zone," he told the TV station.
Bautista was at the scene as the shooting happened and aired footage on his Facebook page.
“There’s an officer down," Bautista said at the scene. "They’re moving in on somebody. I think they might of got somebody.”
“Don’t worry, I’m behind a tree," he said as he narrated what he saw. "I think another officer is down around the corner over here. They got SWAT over here. I can’t really get any closer. I’m safe, man. Don’t worry about it.”
'Everything just fell apart'
Wyatt Rosser attended Thursday night's march and talked with KERA about what he saw:
"The Black Lives Matter rally … started out as, what was to me, the biggest and most inspiring rally I've been to in Dallas. Speakers were great and everything and was peaceful and beautiful until the end of the march. … There were really beautiful speakers, a lot of great things were said and it felt really unifying and we were all standing in solidarity and that happened, and everyone just scattered and we broke apart. That was probably the most intense and disheartening thing for me, how symbolic it was being linked in arms, feeling this really strong moment and then hearing gunshots and then everything just fell apart. …
"These shooters are definitely radicals that are not representative of what we were gathering for or standing for and speaking about. This was by far the most peaceful and unifying BLM rally I've been to. There was no talk of violence or fighting back. There was talk of standing up for your rights and coming together as people and protecting yourselves, yes, but there was no kind of rhetoric spoken by the speakers or people in the audience that would have encouraged this to happen. …
"These few radical shooters took everything over and stole the spotlight with violence that's not representative of what the majority of us was standing for tonight."
The group that organized Thursday night’s march issued a statement:
“Next Generation Action Network (NGAN) expresses its condolences for the officers whose lives lost following tonight’s peaceful protest. NGAN organized a peaceful protest to address community concerns regarding two recent police involved shootings. NGAN, nor its President, Minister Dominique Alexander do not condone violence in any form. … These cowardly acts were committed by individuals in no way affiliated NGAN.”
Dallas police just issued a statement to media: “We have received your requests about the shooting downtown. Please be patient while we sort through all of this information as this is clearly still an active scene. We will get information to you as soon as we can.”
DART light-rail and bus service has been suspended. Trinity Railway Express service has stopped at Victory Station.
Four DART police officers were shot in downtown Dallas. 1 deceased, others not life-threatening. No IDs yet. Updates via twitter.— dartmedia (@dartmedia) July 8, 2016
The Associated Press contributed to this report. KERA's Stephen Becker, Bill Zeeble, Stephanie Kuo, Lauren Silverman, Stella M. Chavez, Stephanie Kuo and Eric Aasen contributed to this report, as did BJ Austin and Javier Giribet-Vargas.
We will update this story.