Dallas mourns fallen officers a day after shooting
He said he hated white people, especially police officers. And he wanted to kill them.
Late Thursday and early Friday, Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, who served in the U.S. Army Reserves in Afghanistan, was holed up in a parking garage in downtown Dallas, laughing at times, spewing hate and exchanging gunfire with police.
“He was upset about Black Lives Matter,” said Dallas police Chief David Brown, referring to 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.
Dallas police eventually sent a bomb-toting robot to Johnson’s position and detonated the C-4 explosive, killing him, a violent end to the killer’s violent attack on Dallas police that left five officers dead and seven wounded. Two civilians were also wounded in the shooting at the end of a Black Lives Matter protest march.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said some protesters wearing camouflage and protective gear were detained and questioned. But as investigators “unraveled the fishing knot,” they determined that Johnson was the only person to fire on officers from different levels of a downtown building.
Among the Dallas police officers killed is one from Fort Worth: Patrick Zamarripa, 32, a 2001 graduate of Paschal High School who had survived three tours of duty in Iraq.
Zamarripa’s father told the Star-Telegram that his son was on bike patrol during the protest, which concerned him as he watched 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 Memorial 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.”
Four of the officers killed worked for the Dallas Police Department and the other for DART, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
Officers killed include: Michael Krol, 40, who had lived in Burleson and Fort Worth; Michael Smith, 55, of Carrollton; and Lorne Ahrens, 48, of Burleson.
DART officer Brent Thompson, 43, of Corsicana, was the first DART officer to die in the line of duty.
At least 12 Dallas officers fired their weapons during the shootout, police said.
No criminal history
Dallas police said Johnson had no criminal history, but during a 12-hour search of his home in Mesquite, they found bombmaking materials, ballistic vests, rifles, ammunition and a personal journal of combat tactics.
Officers from a number of agencies are assisting in the investigation, including the FBI, U.S. marshals, Homeland Security, DEA, Texas DPS, Texas Rangers, DART and the Dallas County sheriff’s and district attorney’s offices.
Johnson had attended the “self-defense and personal protection” gym Academy of Combat Warrior Arts in Richardson and Fort Worth, gym owner and CEO Justin Everman told The Daily Beast. The gym’s Twitter account says it provides “reality based training for today’s Urban environment.”
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.
Brown said they had “no other option” but to deploy the robot toward Johnson. The suspect had earlier told the hostage negotiator that the “end was near.”
On Johnson’s Facebook page, which was eventually taken down Friday, Johnson’s profile photo showed him wearing traditional African garb and holding his clenched fist in the air. A Black Power poster, also featuring a raised fist, was among photos posted on his page.
“He said he was upset about the recent police shootings,” Brown said. “The suspect said he was upset at white people. The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.”
While Johnson repeatedly talked of his hatred for white people, his stepmother is white, according to posts on Facebook. She did not return Facebook messages or phone calls.
‘We will find you’
A somber Brown addressed the media at a Friday morning news conference to talk about the “very tragic event.” It was the deadliest attack on law enforcement officers since 9-11.
“We’re 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 I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness.”
Early media reports said three suspects were in custody, but at an afternoon news conference, Rawlings said the gunman acted alone.
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
Brown said police were 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.
The shooting occurred as a peaceful protest over recent officer-involved shootings in other cities was winding down.
Numerous cellphone videos showed protesters scurrying for cover and Dallas police running toward the gunfire.
The Rev. Jeff Hood, a peace activist who helped organize Thursday night’s rally, said he had never met or seen Johnson.
When asked how the shooter might 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.
The reaction in downtown Dallas was somewhat mixed on Friday. Some were shocked and saddened by the shooting, while others said a storm has been brewing — in Dallas and beyond.
Dallas police said Micah Johnson had no criminal history, but during an investigation of his home in Mesquite they found bomb making materials, ballistic vests, rifles, ammunition and a personal journal of combat tactics
Marlo Harris, an artist who grew up in Forest Hill but now lives in DeSoto, believes it is no accident the shootings occurred in Dallas. Harris said she spends a lot of time in Dallas and took part in the Black Lives Matter protest march Thursday night.
Harris said the Dallas-Fort Worth area has never properly addressed tensions between races.
Harris, who is African-American, predicted there could be more civil unrest until changes are made to address unfair treatment of minorities. In particular, she said, police should be required to undergo more thorough psychiatric evaluations to unearth hidden biases before they’re put on the beat.
“It’s going to get worse. It’s going to be like a tsunami,” she said of the prospect of future violence. “We’re not a violent people. We’re just tired and frustrated and want to be respected.”
But the Rev. T.D. Jakes, founder of the 5,000-seat Potter’s House in Dallas, which has a large satellite congregation in Fort Worth, downplayed the notion that Dallas was ripe for such a tragedy.
“The problems are no different in Dallas, Baltimore or any other city,” Jakes said while being interviewed on a downtown Dallas sidewalk by a reporter from Infowars.com, a conspiracy website.
Jakes said he hoped community leaders would get together and “create a platform for reasonable people to have a conversation, which we have avoided because of political correctness.”
Protest scheduled in Fort Worth
The protest was scheduled in downtown Dallas after the recent shootings of Alton Sterling, who was killed by an officer in Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile, who was killed in Falcon Heights, Minn. The shootings were captured by cellphones.
A rally was also scheduled in Fort Worth for Friday. The shootings in Dallas changed the tenor of the event.
About 15 people chanted “No Justice, No Peace” as they walked in a tight circle in front of Fort Worth police headquarters at 350 W. Belknap St.
Three police officers could be seen on the top floor of the parking garage across the street. Two bicycle officers watched from about a block away, and two uniformed patrol officers stood at the opposite end of the block.
To end the march, protesters lit candles and prayed for the families of the five dead Dallas officers and the two African-American men who were killed this week by police officers in Baton Rouge and in a suburb of St. Paul, Minn.
Protest organizer Donnell Ballard said he called on Fort Worth police to change the way they interact with the black community.
“We need to change not only the way we approach the African-American community, but all communities,” Ballard said. “There are too many of us dying. Our officers need better training so they won’t just come out and shoot people.”
The police chiefs of Fort Worth and Dallas are both black.
In the wake of Thursday night’s shooting, Fort Worth police directed officers to team up with a partner while riding patrol as an “added safety measure,” said Sgt. Mark Povero, Fort Worth police spokesman.
He said police intend to have a strong presence at rallies planned throughout Fort Worth this weekend.
“Our Intelligence Section has been monitoring social media and working with our federal partners to gain as much intel as possible about the events,” Povero said.
Hundreds of people turned out for lunchtime prayer vigils at Thanks-Giving 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.
The flags outside City Hall were lowered to half-staff Friday morning and Gov. Greg Abbott ordered Texas flags to be lowered until sunset Tuesday.
The mayor and Brown urged the community for support and prayers.
“We don’t feel support most days,” Brown said. “Let’s not make today one of those days.”
Staff writers Azia Branson, Maria Recio, Gordon Dickson, Mitch Mitchell, Diane Smith and Lee Williams contributed to this report.