‘Our Country is Better Than That’ – Nation Horrified By Sniper Attack on Dallas Police Officers

“You read about these things from afar, you’re horrified when they happen in your city, when they happen so close to you. It’s unimaginable.”

By Rhonda FanningJuly 8, 2016 12:11 pm, ,

Five officers were killed and seven others were injured Thursday night as a downtown Dallas protest was ending.

The headline is the same today in newspapers across the country and around the world. The full front page of the Boston Herald is “Death in Dallas.” In bold letters, the Orlando Sentinel reads “Police shot, killed at Dallas protest.” The Sacramento Bee: “Bloody Backlash.” And in The Dallas Morning News it’s “Ambush” – accompanied by a photo of a crying Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) police officer hugging medical staff.

The event in Dallas began as a peaceful demonstration in response to the recent killings of two black men by police officers. Police working the route in downtown Dallas had been posing for pictures and taking selfies with demonstrators earlier in the day. In one photograph police officers had their arms around demonstrators in a friendly manner.

But when shots rang out, police officers began running toward the sounds.

It’s been described as the deadliest incident for police officers since the September 11 attacks.

Four of the slain officers worked in the Dallas Police Department; the fifth worked for DART. Two civilians were wounded.

President Barack Obama held a press conference Friday morning in Warsaw, Poland, where he’s attending a NATO summit and meeting with leaders of the European Union.

“We are horrified over these events,” he said. “We stand united with people and the police department in Dallas. … Today is a wrenching reminder of the sacrifices that (police officers) make for us.”

Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement that Texas flags across the state will be lowered to half-staff in honor of the victims of the shooting.

Also at a press conference Friday morning, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said the city is hurting.

“Our profession is hurting. Dallas officers are hurting,” Chief Brown said. “We are heartbroken. … We are not going to let a coward who would ambush police officers change our democracy. … Our city, our country is better than that.”

Chief Brown said one suspect was cornered, and later killed using a robot with a bomb attached. The suspect was killed after negotiations between the suspect and the Dallas police department broke down.

“He wanted to kill officers and he expressed killing white people, especially white officers,” Chief Brown said in the press conference. “He expressed anger for Black Lives Matter. None of that makes sense. None of that is a reason – a legitimate reason – to do harm to anyone.”

At the time of this posting, three suspects are in police custody and are said to be uncooperative with authorities.

A 12-block area of downtown Dallas is closed off to the public as police continue to investigate. DART trains and buses will continue to operate, except for downtown stops.

Rudolph Bush, an editor with the Dallas Morning News, says that at the time of this posting, a number of officers have been released, but some remain in treatment. Information about the level of the officers’ injuries has not been released.

“There’s a lot of ambiguity still in terms of exactly what happened,” Bush says.

The reaction at the Dallas Morning News, he says, was both somber and stunned.

“You read about these things from afar, you’re horrified when they happen in your city, when they happen so close to you. It’s unimaginable,” he says. “Our editor Mike Wilson said this morning: ‘I printed this in the paper, I read the stories, I edited the stories and I still can’t make it real in my mind.’ But it’s very real.”

The protests were in response to the killing of Alton Sterling on Tuesday in Baton Rouge, after officers responded to a call at a convenience store about an armed man. Philando Castile was shot and killed Wednesday during a traffic stop on Minnesota.

KERA News in Dallas reports that around 7 p.m. on Thursday night nearly a thousand people showed up to Belo Garden Park in downtown. They were part of a Black Lives Matter protest organized by the Next Generation Action Network.

Wyatt Rosser was also a protester at the rally. He told KERA News that he has been to similar demonstrations before and says last night’s was one of the most peaceful – until the shots rang out. Rosser says last night’s shooting is against what Black Lives Matters stands for.

Listen to the full interview with Dallas Morning News editor Rudolph Bush in the audio player above.

Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel and Hannah McBride.