“Women with children and babies and everybody was chaotically running”
On Thursday night, multiple Dallas police offers were shot, five fatally, in an ambush-style attack by an alleged team of snipers during a protest rally against the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. According to several reports, 11 officers were shot in total. It remains unclear how many attackers were involved.
Police chief David Brown said in a statement of the night’s events, “Tonight it appears that two snipers shot 10 police officers from elevated positions during the protest/ rally. Three officers are deceased, two are in surgery and three are in critical condition.”
Brown updated his statement soon after revealing a tragic fourth, and later fifth, death. “With heavy hearts, we are devastated to report a fourth officer has died. The person of interest, whose pictures have been circulated just turned himself in.”
Shots began to ring out around 9 p.m., in the midst of a vocal but peaceful protest. According to the New York Times, there were roughly 800 protestors and 100 police officers. As with the horrific deaths of both Sterling and Castile, this event too unfolded live across social media.
Immediately following the shootings, the Dallas police took to social media to share photos and videos of the suspect, whom they now refer to as a person of interest. The second suspect is also reportedly in custody.
Richard Adams, a bystander at the protest, told the local ABC affiliate, the protest was "a lovely, peaceful march," prior to the shooting. He added, "Everybody just stopped -- 'Run, run for your lives!' Women with children and babies and everybody was chaotically running. And then, maybe I was a half-a-block away, calming down a little bit when we heard it again. [...] There must have been five times tonight -- whenever we thought we were safe, people said 'Run, people were shot!'"
Chief Brown said at a news conference that the four snipers appeared to have triangulated at the end of the march’s route for maximum impact. After exchanging gunfire, police negotiatiors spoke with one of the suspects. Brown said the suspect “told our negotiators that the end is coming and he’s going to hurt and kill more of us, meaning law enforcement, and that there are bombs all over the place in this garage and downtown.” Downtown Dallas is now being thoroughly swept for bombs.
President Obama spoke publicly on Friday morning: “When people say black lives matter, that doesn’t mean blue lives don’t matter. It just means all lives matter.” This appears to be the deadliest attack on law enforcement personnel since September 11, 2001.
NOTE: This post has been edited to add further detail.