Multiple people are in custody following the shooting, Dallas police said

By George Stark and Adam Carlson
July 07, 2016 11:00 PM
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Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News

Twelve Dallas police were shot by sniper fire, five fatally, in what authorities called a “vicious, calculated and despicable attack” during a Black Lives Matter protest Thursday night.

The shooting came from “elevated positions” during the event, Dallas police said. Officials confirmed Friday that five officers had been killed.

During a Friday appearance on the Today show, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said that three suspects were in custody and a fourth had been killed in a shoot-out with police. Authorities believe the suspects were “working together.”

It was not immediately clear which of the suspects is alleged to have fired on the rally.

One of the slain officers has been identified as 43-year-old Brent Thompson, a seven-year veteran of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Police Department, DART announced in a statement. Family members of officer Patrick Zamarripa identified him as another of the dead.

Two civilians were also wounded in the shooting.

The killed suspect was later identified as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, according to CBS News, the Associated Press and ABC News.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown said late Thursday that wasn’t clear if the suspects participated in the protest at any point. Rawlings said on Friday that the suspects were not cooperating with the investigation and were “being pretty tight-lipped”

On Friday morning, Brown described the tense standoff and hours of negotiating between officers and Johnson (who Brown did not name). The encounter took place on the second floor of El Centro College in downtown Dallas, Brown said.

“The suspect said he was upset over Black Lives Matter. He said he was upset over the recent police shootings,” Brown said. “The suspect said he was upset at white people, he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.”

The suspect also said he was not affiliated with any groups and that “he did this alone,” Brown said.

The suspect was killed when officers used a “bomb robot,” Brown said, adding that reports that the suspect killed himself were not accurate.

Before the shooting, hundreds of people reportedly gathered at Dallas’ Belo Garden park, marching to the Old Red Courthouse around 9 p.m local time before shots were fired.

A tweet from Dallas police had shown the rally was peaceful before the gunfire, and one witness told PEOPLE the mood had been light.

On Friday, Rawlings said: “This is a terrible blow to the city of Dallas. This is a terrible blow to the United States of America and it calls for us to come together at this time and hopefully love one another deeply.”

ABC 7 affiliate WKBW reported at least 20 gunshots were heard during the exchange with police

President Barack Obama addressed the shooting from the NATO summit in Poland, calling the tragedy a “vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement.” (Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump also reacted to the violence, as did many celebrities.)

“There is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement,” Obama said. “Anyone involved in the senseless murders will be held fully accountable. Justice will be done.”

Any citizen with information about the shooting should call 214-671-3482, police said.