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Dallas gunman identified after shock killings

Thursday’s attack came at the end of an otherwise peaceful march to protest police killings of two black men

Published: Updated:

A black US military veteran of the Afghan war who said he wanted to “kill white people” acted alone in a sniper attack that killed five police officers during a Dallas protest decrying police shootings of black men, officials said on Friday.

Seven other police officers and two civilians were wounded in the ambush in downtown Dallas on Thursday night, officials said. Police killed the gunman, identified by authorities as 25-year-old Micah Johnson, with a bomb-carrying robot after cornering him in a parking garage, ending an hours-long standoff.

A search of Johnson’s home in the nearby suburb of Mesquite found “bomb-making materials, ballistic vests, rifles, ammunition and a personal journal of combat tactics,” Dallas police said in a report on Friday. Police said Johnson had no previous criminal history.

Dallas Mayor Michael Rawlings said Johnson had written “manifestos” on military-style tactics, and social media postings left by Johnson showed he subscribed to a militant black nationalist ideology.

Thursday’s attack came at the end of an otherwise peaceful march to protest police killings of two black men this week in Minnesota and Louisiana, the latest police killings of black men over the last two years that have triggered outrage, soul-searching and debates over the role of race.

In Dallas, hundreds of screaming demonstrators ran for safety as police officers patrolling the rally took cover, believing initially that they had come under attack by several shooters.

By late afternoon on Friday, however, investigators had concluded that Johnson, armed with a rifle, was the lone gunman.

“At this time, there appears to have been one gunman, with no known links to or inspiration from any international terrorist organization,” US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told reporters in New York.

In Dallas, Rawlings said the shooting “came from one building at different levels from this suspect.”

One man was arrested on “unrelated weapons charges” at the scene, and several people were detained for questioning, but police said they were released by day’s end on Friday.

Still, Governor Greg Abbott and other officials said they were looking for evidence of any possible co-conspirators.

The ambush marked the highest death toll for US police in the line duty from a single event since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Gunman angry about police killings

The attack was certain to complicate rising tensions between minority communities and law enforcement following a string of high-profile killings of unarmed black men at the hands of police across the country over the past two years, giving rise to the Black Lives Matter protest movement.

The violence came just over a week before the start of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where Donald Trump is expected to become the party’s official nominee, and police in Cleveland on Friday tightened their security plan for the convention.

Other police departments across the country, including New York, Chicago and St. Louis, responded to the attack by requiring officers to patrol in pairs rather than alone.

Thursday’s attack was especially devastating for the people of Dallas, a city that struggled for decades to heal from the scars left by the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, blocks away in Dealey Plaza.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown called the ambush “a well-planned, well-thought-out, evil tragedy.” He added, “We are determined to not let this person steal this democracy from us.”