DALLAS — A man accused in a fatal shooting spree that killed five Dallas police officers and wounded nine other people was a former Army reservist who served a tour in Afghanistan, officials said Friday.
Police used a "bomb robot" early Friday to end a multi-hour standoff in a downtown Dallas parking garage and kill a suspect identified as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, a Dallas-area resident who said he "wanted to kill white people," officials said.
Those injured in the attack included seven police officers and two civilians.
The shooting broke out late Thursday — the deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — during what had been a peaceful protest against shootings by police officers that claimed the lives of black men in Minneapolis and Baton Rouge, La. About 800 people were marching through downtown, flanked by about 100 police officers, when the gunfire began.
It remains unclear whether Johnson was the only one involved in the ambush that broke out during a demonstration to protest recent police shootings of two African American men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
At least three other people were taken into custody in connection with the shooting Thursday night, but they have not been identified and no information has been given on their possible roles in the attack.
Officials had originally said that multiple snipers opened fire on police, but said they were told by the gunman during the standoff that he was acting alone.
"This was a well-planned, well thought-out, evil tragedy by these suspects… We won't rest until we bring everyone involved to justice," Dallas Police Chief David Brown told reporters.
"We are determined not to let this person steal this democracy from us," he added.
The end to the standoff with Johnson came after attempted negotiations "broke down" and turned into "an exchange of gunfire with the suspect," Brown said at an earlier news conference Friday morning. 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 known criminal history or ties to terror groups, a U.S. law enforcement official said, and had relatives in Mesquite, Texas, which is just east of Dallas.
In a Facebook post, Johnson's sister mourned the loss of her brother and questioned why he had gone to the downtown demonstration.
"I keep saying it's not true… my eyes hurt from crying," Nicole Johnson wrote in a post she later deleted. Minutes later, she posted again. "The news will say what they think but those that knew him know this wasn't like him," she wrote. "This is the biggest loss we've had."
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.
Military records provided by the Department of Defense say that Johnson served in the U.S. Army Reserve as a carpentry and masonry specialist from March 2009 to April 2015, including a tour in Afghanistan from November 2013 to July 2014 with the 420th Engineer Brigade.
Authorities believe Johnson belonged to an informal gun club and took frequent target practice, according to a law enforcement official.
U.S. Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch said federal law enforcement agencies already 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.
In Warsaw earlier, President Obama also expressed condolences to the families of victims in Dallas.
"There has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement," Obama said. "… There is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks, or any violence against law enforcement. Justice will be done."
Brown said a hostage negotiator spoke with the gunman at length before he was killed about 2:30 a.m. The chief said the attacker said he was upset "with white people" and with recent police shootings. The suspect also said that he was not affiliated with any groups and that he acted alone, Brown said.
"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, adding that, "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.
Brown said he spoke overnight with the families of the dead officers killed as well as those who were injured, most of whom have been released from the hospital. He said three officers listed in critical condition are doing better, but that they and the department need the public's support.
Of the dozen officers shot, 10 men and two women, eight are Dallas police and four are Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) officers, officials said.
"They know the city is grieving with them," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said.
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."
One of the officers had surgery overnight and was doing well, Rawlings said. He said he spoke with another officer shot in the leg, and another shot in the arm. "The one shot in the leg – three officers from his squad had died, had gone down around him," Rawlings said. "He felt sad for the other officers, that people don't understand the danger of dealing with a protest. What it can do is put our officers in harm's way."
The shooting broke out late Thursday during what had been a peaceful protest against the recent shootings by police officers in a Minneapolis suburb and in Baton Rouge, La. About 800 people were marching through downtown flanked by about 100 police officers when the gunfire began.
Rev. Jeff Hood, 32, a Baptist minister based in Dallas, helped organize the protest the preceded the shooting as a way for people to gather and vent.
"It was a peaceful protest, no question about it. The entire thing was peaceful," said Wood, who was marching alongside a police sergeant at one point.
They were marching in front of several hundred people when Hood heard rapid-fire gunshots: pah, pah, pah-pah-pah.
"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."
Wood grabbed his own shirt, instinctively, "Because I thought I might have been shot." He had not. He looked up again, and saw the police sergeant take off down the street toward the gunshots. Hood ran the opposite direction, shouting to the crowd, "Run, active shooter!"
Hood had a small cross and held it up above the crowd, he said, guiding them like a shepherd's crook. Many of them kept asking him why the shooting happened. He wondered the same thing.
"The rest of the night I spent ministering people, trying to make some sense of what happened," he said.
Officials identified one of the slain officers as Brent Thompson, 43, who had worked for the DART Police Department since 2009. He was the department's first officer to be killed in the line of duty. Three other DART officers were injured but were expected to recover, officials said.
"As you can imagine, our hearts are broken," the transit district said in a statement. "This is something that touches every part of our organization."
The other officers who were killed were members of the Dallas Police Department, officials said.
Amanda Mann, a 35-year-old Dallas resident, said she drove downtown with friends shortly before 7 p.m. to catch the beginning of the protest in Belo Garden Park, which she had heard about through Facebook. For the first hour, it felt familiar, much like previous Black Lives Matter protests she's been to, she said.
"Until 7:45 there were just some speakers, they were positive and proactive, then they said we were going to line up and march," she said.
Mann said that around 8:30 or 8:45 p.m., as the rally was dying down and she was walking to her car near El Centro College, she heard the first barrage of shots, and then a group of protesters came running toward her, away from the gunfire. For about 40 minutes, she said, police shouted at protesters to move from one block to the next as officers tried to chase down suspects.
Mann said that at one point she lay down with a group on the grassy knoll of Dealey Plaza, a downtown park that is best known as the site of the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy. At another point, she said, she was near the county jail a few blocks away before running across the Commerce Street Bridge over the Trinity River, away from the scene.
"It was like nothing I had seen before," Mann said. "We just kept following what the police told us to do."
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The Associated Press contributed