DALLAS, Texas — The ambush began with gunshots that killed five officers and sent screaming crowds scrambling for cover. It ended when a Dallas police bomb squad robot killed a gunman after negotiations failed.
Investigators have identified the dead suspect: 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson of Mesquite, Texas.
But they’re still trying to answer key questions. Chief among them: Was anyone else involved in the shootings, which began Thursday night during a protest against police violence and left parts of downtown Dallas under siege for hours? And are any other suspects on the loose?
The deadly gunfire erupted in Dallas as videos showing two African-American men shot by police in Louisiana and Minnesota spurred protests and debate over police use of force across the country.
Five police officers were killed and seven others were injured in the ambush. It was the deadliest single incident for U.S. law enforcement since September 11, 2001. Two civilians also were injured in the shootings, the Dallas mayor’s office said.
Reaction poured in on Friday, July 8th from local and national politicians, police associations and more:
Statement from Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch:
“Over the weekend, everyone will talk about these hideous shootings. The shootings by police, the shootings of police. Facts will emerge, emotions will still crackle like spark plugs.
Pundits and politicians will armchair quarterback every one of these shootings but the problem with armchair quarterbacking is that the answers always come from an easy chair- not the field.
Victims, families and entire cities need our prayers right now. But when we’re done praying, I suggest we get out of easy chairs and onto the field. You can’t play unless you’re on the field. You can’t make change, get to know your teammates, learn the game plan, unless you’re on the field. So let’s renew our commitment to our state and our communities by actually knowing our neighbors: getting on the field. We’ll have to put down our phones and delay our binge-watching. We may go places where we feel weird because people have never met us before. But let’s make an effort to know our Wisconsin neighbors.
Let’s not succumb to the evil of fear hate, and suspicion. Let’s renew our commitment to community, and reject hate and darkness.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.”
Statement from Congresswoman Gwen Moore:
“This week, across our country, Americans are once again mourning the lives of those who were tragically taken from us through senseless violence. Sadly, these feelings of grief are becoming all too familiar for far too many families. However, despite such sorrow and anger, we must continue to rebuke the increasingly loud and boisterous voices that seek to turn us against one another.
Pain can often immobilize us, leaving us feeling powerless in the face of great adversity, but our nation is strong. We have the resources to prevent these tragedies before they happen. We have the means to keep our communities safe, and we have the tools to support and protect those responsible for keeping us safe. What we need now is the capacity and political will to recognize injustice and to ensure that justice is truly for all.
I grieve for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. I grieve for the families of the Dallas police officers who were struck down while serving their community. I grieve for our country as we try to navigate through these dark times. And although I recognize that such darkness has the potential to create a considerable void between and within us, I take comfort in knowing that together, we can fill this space with light, love, and understanding.”
Statement from ACLU of Texas:
“Last night police officers in Dallas were gunned down while protecting community members exercising their right to protest peacefully. The protesters were publicly challenging the epidemic of Black men being killed by individuals wearing the same uniform as those safeguarding the peaceful protest. If the night had gone as the protesters and police planned, this would have been a demonstration of what makes our country great: a citizenry publicly proclaiming their objection to government wrongs, and public officials protecting the citizenry’s constitutional right to air their anger and disapproval. Tragically, this quintessential example of democracy was ripped apart, and the nation awoke today to learn of more shootings and more deaths.
We are reminded of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King: “Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all.” Over the past three days, the body count has risen to seven. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile—whose deaths people filled the streets of Dallas to protest—did nothing to warrant their deaths. The five Dallas police officers did nothing to warrant their deaths. Add to that the more than 50 officers killed in the line of duty and the 121 Black people killed by law enforcement earlier this year, and it’s clear that the violence is escalating. How much is enough?
We call on the mayors of Texas cities to meet this crisis head on: Bring together the heads of law enforcement agencies committed to protect and serve, the leaders of organizations who fight for equality and justice, and local activists who work daily to defend vulnerable communities across this state. The time is now for a deliberate and substantive dialogue aimed at building trust and solidarity among all Texans. We must work together to ensure the senseless violence the nation witnessed this week—and over the past year—is met with reason, honest reflection and action. We cannot wait a moment longer to start this journey.”
Statement from Milwaukee Police Association:
“Today… last evening, certainly a dark day for our nation. The attack on police should be viewed as an attack on ALL. There is no justifiable reason to attack and kill those that have pledged and demonstrated a willingness to give their life in the protection of others.
There is no room for political rhetoric. Disenfranchised groups, nor guns committed the mayhem – clearly criminal thugs are to be blamed.
To suggest other is reprehensible! The killings were a direct result of an unfettered festering, and sometimes supported “blame” society. If not condemned this will continue.
Our civic leaders, elected officials ALL and appointed leaders must step forward… unconditionally repudiate this behavior and call for unequivocal unity.
The Milwaukee Police Association members pray today for the Dallas families and grieve for the loss… a lost loved family member that happened to be a police officer.”
Statement from Wisconsin Professional Police Association:
“On behalf of Wisconsin’s law enforcement community, the WPPA extends its deepest condolences to all those affected by the despicable shootings in Dallas last night that tragically resulted in the senseless deaths of five officers. Two civilians and seven officers were also injured in the attack, including Dallas Police Officer Gretchen Rocha, a Beaver Dam native who only moved to Texas a month ago with her husband and their infant daughter. Our hearts go out to all of these victims and their loved ones.
In light of the Dallas tragedy and the controversies stemming from the recent officer-involved shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota, and elsewhere, much more is needed than thoughts and prayers alone. While the expressions of grief, disgust, and anger that are being expressed by many today in the wake of these disturbing incidents are entirely understandable, it’s critically important that we resist the temptation to propagate the rushed finger-pointing, hyperbolic vilifications, and ideological grandstanding that has overwhelmingly marked the media coverage and public dialogue on issues related to policing in America.
Nationally, the number of officers shot and killed in the line of duty so far this year is more than 40% higher than at this same point in time last year. Just in Wisconsin, the number of assaults on officers was 65% higher in 2015 than in 2008. These facts are alarming, not only because they are indisputably true, but also because they have not been a meaningful part of the broad national conversation needed to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. If nothing else, the current environment ought to make abundantly clear that much must be done in order for us to even begin that conversation in earnest.
There needs to be a greater and more deliberate emphasis on the dynamics that go well-beyond the sensationalism that all-too-often preoccupies the attention of the media, which often takes for granted the fact that there can be no greater calling than that of anyone who risks their life to protect the lives of others. There needs to a more-informed acknowledgment that the unconfirmed and incomplete viral videos of controversial police encounters still under investigation, while troubling, may not be wholly representative of what actually occurred. And there needs to be a recognition that it is unacceptable for anyone to paint an entire profession with the broad brush of prejudice.
It must be possible for us to maintain these views while also openly and honestly exploring how to repair the systemic detrimental impacts of institutional racism wherever it exists. While all of that is difficult, to be sure, especially considering how it is far easier to resort to extreme views more likely to garner the attention of the evening news, it’s also unavoidable if we truly wish to chart a different path in our history.
Today, however, we must mourn.
May that grief not serve to undermine the invaluable service of the officers that keep our communities safe and the families that enable that devotion. May we find a way to collectively embrace one another as Americans and emerge from this tragedy as a stronger people, while not forgetting that those aspirations are largely made possible by the dedicated men and women who risk their lives on a daily basis in service to others. And may we as a nation not lose sight of the fact that in that valor, whether it goes viral or not, there is hope for a more peaceful tomorrow.”
Statement from Senator Van Wanggaard:
“I ask that everyone pray for the officers’ families who gave their lives to protect the rights of others. Please pray for all emergency service personnel to keep all of our guardians under God ‘s protection. Pray that in this time of increased tension between police and certain communities, that God’s wisdom and guidance will keep all lives safe, and reduce senseless violence.
We must remember that we are all on the same side. Both the community and law enforcement want a peaceful environment, respecting every person’s rights and the law. Most importantly, each of us wants to return safely to their loved ones at the end of the day. Too many have not lately.”
Statement from Rep. David Bowen:
“At times there are clear reasons to give up hope that we as a community and a nation might treat Black citizens equally and equitably to their White brothers and sisters who engage with law enforcement and live on to make it back home to their families. Whether it’s a conversation, a verbal warning, a ticket, or an arrest, every person deserves the chance to get to that next step in the process. The same goes for officers who are committed to serving our residents. Every time they clock in for a shift, they deserve the chance to clock out and return to their families. No one deserves to have his or her life taken in a situation that can be prevented with other courses of action.
This could be one of those times. We all are contemplating if this is too hard to solve and heal. But giving up means giving up on ourselves and the brighter and better future our community and our country deserve. This added trauma and heightened tension prevents us from building authentic, positive relationships between our communities of color and law enforcement committed to the safekeeping of our community.
Just two weeks ago Jay Anderson, a 25 year old black man, was sitting in his car in a suburban Milwaukee park when he was approached by a police officer who shot him to death after seeing a gun in the car. On Tuesday Alton Sterling, a 37 year old black man from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was shot to death while pinned down on the ground and a gun was discovered. And on Wednesday in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota Philando Castile, a 32 year old black man, was pulled over on a routine traffic stop for a broken tail light and shot to death with a child and girlfriend in the car.
At the same time, last night’s horrific situation in Dallas where twelve police officers and two protesters were injured from a shooting attack that left five officers dead is another obstacle that keeps us from working and engaging in dialogue with each other. This is not what we need.
Real, authentic relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve will be built if we rise above the pressure to give up and focus on addressing problems and distractions. Clearly, we can’t afford not to any longer.
I pray for all the families and all heavy hearts hurting from these situations. May God help us.”
Statement from Alderman Michael Murphy:
“I am shocked and deeply saddened at the news of last night’s shootings in Dallas. For what it’s worth, I send my condolences to the families and friends of the officers who were killed, as well as everyone who was injured in this tragic shooting.
This incident demonstrates in stark detail the challenges and the peril that police officers face in their jobs. The officers who were attacked in Dallas were carrying out their sworn duty to protect and serve the people of their community. Throughout the peaceful protest, they maintained their professionalism and their composure, and when the gunfire began, they ran toward it with no regard for anything but the safety of the public.
I can sympathize with the anger and frustration of a community that is shocked with loss and reeling from grief. Police departments throughout the country should strive to promote positive community relations, but there is still progress to be made in order to achieve that ideal.
But there’s no justification for lashing out with violence against police officers; it only further compounds what was already a tragedy. As Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”
Statement from Alderman Bob Donovan:
“Last night’s tragedy in Dallas, where shooters opened fire on police officers during an otherwise peaceful protest, is simply despicable.
Throughout this week, I have been closely following the events across the nation and the protests that sprang up in cities everywhere. In most cases, they were peaceful—until this erupted. I went to bed with the realization that officers had been killed, and I woke up this morning to learn that five were dead and many others had been shot.
Our prayers go out to all the family members of these officers, and to officers across America. Only they realize the challenge inherent in putting on a police uniform every day. Most of us wouldn’t even want the job, let alone have the ability to qualify for it.
This tragedy especially hits home for me, as I have family members in law enforcement.
While I realize that many communities across America, including our own here in Milwaukee, have a ways to go to improve police-community relations, how about we start with this? My suggestion to certain individuals is, the next time you see a cop, there’s no need to spit at them, there’s no need to swear at them, there’s no need to chant catchy slogans.
How about you just say thank you?”
Statement from Alderman Terry Witkowski:
“In America, our rights are safeguarded by laws, and our laws are enforced by police officers who take an oath to protect and serve their community. So when an attack is carried out against the men and women who dedicate their lives to preserving an orderly and lawful society, it’s also an attack on our way of life.
Accordingly, I condemn the shooting last night of a dozen police officers in Dallas as nothing short of an act of domestic terrorism. There is absolutely nothing that justifies such actions in a society governed by laws and the courts. I extend my deepest sympathies to the families of the officers who were killed or wounded, as well as their brothers and sisters in the protective services nationwide. And I want to once again express my full support for law enforcement as the keepers of an orderly and lawful society.”
Statement from Milwaukee Alderman Jim Bohl:
“I am deeply saddened by news of last night’s shootings of police officers during an otherwise peaceful protest in Dallas. My prayers go out to the victims and their families.
It’s no small commitment to swear that you will protect and serve your community. The job is tough and dangerous, and too often it goes unappreciated by the very people to whom you swore an oath. I extend my gratitude to law enforcement officers throughout the country, and especially here in Milwaukee, for continuing their dedicated and courageous service.”
Statement from Alderman Cavalier Johnson:
“Over the past 30 days, we have watched unspeakable tragedies rip through the United States and the international community. We have seen unfathomable violence in places like Orlando and Istanbul. Now we have seen more bloodshed in the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police officers, and just in the last day, the attack on and death of numerous Dallas police officers.
We in Milwaukee County have seen our own police-involved incidents, most recently with the shooting of Jay Anderson in Wauwatosa. While we must wait to confirm all of the facts, there is something truly wrong with the way things are and the way they are going.
Too many people are tired, hurt or scared. Too many people are unemployed or don’t have access to opportunity. Too many people have had to bury a child because of a gun-related incident.
I am calling all elected officials, both partisan and nonpartisan, to action. We can no longer tweet out condolences and go back to our lives. I have not lost faith in our ability to be the change we want to see in this world.
I look forward to working with my colleagues at City Hall and throughout Milwaukee to increase communication between police officers and the community, and to decrease the level of criminal activity throughout the city.”