Before being killed by police early Friday, one of the suspects told a hostage negotiator that he was upset about recent police shootings and angry at white people, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said.
“He was upset about Black Lives Matter,” said Brown, referencing the movement that began after the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and intensified this week after officer-involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota.
The suspect said he wanted to kill police officers, especially white ones, Brown said.
Several media outlets identified the killed suspect as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, possibly of Mesquite.
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Johnson served in the U.S. Army Reserves from March 2009 to April 2015, according to records obtained by the Star-Telegram.
He was a carpentry and masonry specialist who held the rank of private first class and was activated in September 2013 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was deployed to Afghanistan from November 2013 to July 2014, Army officials confirm.
The Associated Press reported that police were at Johnson’s two-story brick home in Mesquite Friday morning.
Two of the deceased have been identified as Dallas Police Officer Patrick Zamarripa, a Fort Worth native and war veteran, and DART Officer Brent Thompson, a recently married grandfather.
Zamarripa’s father told the Star-Telegram that he knew his son was on bike patrol during the protest and was watching the tragedy unfold on TV.
Rick Zamarripa sent his son a text message, asking, “Patrick, are you OK?” but never heard back.
One of his son’s friends came by and told the dad to go to Parkland Hospital in Dallas.
“I was hoping that he was OK,” the father said. “His buddy wouldn’t tell me. He turned red and I knew.”
‘We will find you’
A somber Brown addressed the media at a Friday morning news conference to talk about the “very tragic event” that left five police officers dead, and seven officers and two civilians injured. It is the deadliest attack on law enforcement officers since 9-11.
“Were hurting, our profession is hurting, Dallas officers are hurting,” Brown said. “We are heartbroken. There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city. All is known is that this must stop, this divisiveness.”
Four of the officers killed were with the Dallas Police Department, the other worked for Dallas Area Rapid Transit, or DART.
Anyone with information on Thursday night’s shootings should call Dallas police at 214-671-3485
An unknown number of suspects are in custody and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said no information would be released on those suspects because it’s an ongoing investigation. He said the safety of Dallas was a top priority.
Brown said police are still actively pursuing leads and would not say if other suspects remain at-large.
“If there's someone out there associated with this, we will find you and we will prosecute you and bring you to justice,” Brown said.
Brown: Snipers’ strategy was ‘cowardly’
The shooting came as a peaceful protest over recent officer-involved shootings in other cities was winding down.
Just before 9 p.m. Thursday, as protesters walked by the intersection of Main and Lamar streets, two snipers began firing on officers with automatic weapons.
Numerous cellphone videos detailed the horror as it unfolded, showing protesters scurrying for cover and Dallas police running toward the gunfire to rescue their fallen comrades.
Brown called the snipers’ strategy “cowardly.”
“We have to be right 100 percent of the time in the way we police this city,” Brown said. “Suspects like this only have to be right once. They don't have to work very hard to do cowardly acts like this.”
The Rev. Jeff Hood, who helped organize Thursday night’s rally, said he had never met or seen Johnson.
When asked how the shooters may have known the route used during the protest, Hood said organizers have used a similar route through downtown “dozens of times.”
“I got no sense this was going to be anything other than what it's always been,” Hood said. “At these protests I've never had problems with the police department. That's what I can't get over. I was sitting there talking to a sergeant when all this started.”
Dallas police arrested two suspects near the El Centro College parking garage and another was cornered inside the garage.
If there's someone out there associated with this, we will find you and we will prosecute you and bring you to justice.
Police Chief David Brown
After a few hours of intense negotiations with the cornered suspect, which included exchanges of gunfire, Dallas police deployed a robot with a bomb to the suspect’s location and detonated the bomb, killing him.
Brown said they had “no other option.” The suspect had earlier told the hostage negotiator that the “end was near.”
Protest scheduled Friday in Fort Worth
The protest was scheduled in downtown Dallas after the recent police shootings of Alton Sterling Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minn. The shootings were captured by cellphones.
Another protest is planned for Friday evening in Fort Worth. The protest, which begins at 6 p.m. at 350 W. Belknap Street, will include a prayer vigil, organizers said.
All is known is that this must stop, this divisiveness.
Prayer vigils were held at lunchtime at Thanksgiving Square in Dallas and Burnett Plaza in Fort Worth.
A large area of downtown Dallas remained closed Friday, as police helicopters buzzed above the area.
Late Friday morning, a DART spokesperson said one of the three injured DART officers, 39-year-old Officer Jesus Retana, had been released from the hospital. Two others, Officer Omar Cannon, 44, and Officer Misty McBride, 32, remained hospitalized.
Dallas police have not released the identities of the officers shot.
The flags outside City Hall were lowered to half-staff Friday morning. President Barack Obama called Rawlings from Poland at some point during the night with words of encouragement.
Gov. Greg Abbott ordered Texas flags to be lowered to half-staff until sunset Tuesday.
“As Texans and Americans mourn the loss of our men and women in uniform, we must continue to remember that police officers put their lives on the line every day to ensure our safety and our freedoms,” Abbott said in a news release.
The mayor and Brown urged the community for thoughts and prayers.
“We don't feel support most days,” Brown said. “Let's not make today one of those days.”
Staff writers Azia Branson, Diane Smith and Lee Williams contributed to this report.