Two gunmen shot eleven police officers in Dallas, Texas, during a protest on Thursday night, killing at least four of them, police said. The death toll makes this one of the deadliest days for police in the history of American law enforcement.
At a late night press conference, Dallas Police Department Chief David Brown said a male suspect is “cornered” and exchanging gunfire with SWAT officers in a downtown parking garage. The suspect told officers “the end is near” and claimed he had placed bombs throughout the building and the downtown area, Brown said.
A female suspect is also in custody, Brown added, although he did not identify her as a shooter. Police officials also said two suspects were taken into custody on a nearby highway. It’s unclear whether there are other suspects still at large.
No motive has yet been established and it’s unclear whether the shooting was related to the protest.
“Tonight it appears that two snipers shot ten police officers from elevated positions during the protest/rally,” Brown said in an initial statement. “Three officers are deceased, two are in surgery, and three are in critical condition. An intensive search for suspect is currently underway.” The police department later said an eleventh officer had also been injured and a fourth officer had been killed.
“At 8:58 p.m., our worst nightmare happened,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said at the press conference.
Two of the deceased officers are from the Dallas Police Department. Dallas Area Rapid Transit also said four of the officers were from its police department, including one of the fatalities, on its official Twitter account.
Four DART police officers were shot in downtown Dallas. 1 deceased, others not life-threatening. No IDs yet. Updates via twitter.
— dartmedia (@dartmedia) July 8, 2016
The shootings occurred during a protest against police killings earlier this week in Louisiana and Minnesota. Hundreds rallied in downtown Dallas, near the corner of Main Street and Lamar Street. Local news footage captured what sounds like several gunshots being fired, and the crowd scattering.
#BREAKING: Our cameras captured several shots ring out during a protest in Downtown Dallas pic.twitter.com/OWOBOOI8Jg
— FOX 4 NEWS (@FOX4) July 8, 2016
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he would end an out-of-state trip and return to Dallas following the shootings. In a statement, he also offered his condolences to the officers’ families.
My statement on tonight’s shooting in #Dallas. pic.twitter.com/oXoAJOUCoF
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) July 8, 2016
Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick initially said more than one officer had been shot in Dallas, but did not have further details on the number or their condition.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the police officers who were shot in #Dallas tonight. Awaiting further details.
— Dan Patrick (@DanPatrick) July 8, 2016
As the Washington Post noted, Dallas’s reform-oriented police department is considered a national model, credited with improving transparency and lowering homicide rates. The department’s official Twitter account posted photos earlier Thursday night of officers peacefully mingling with protesters at the demonstration.
Demonstration in #Dallas @ Belo Garden Park pic.twitter.com/IUx5IaERSB
— Dallas Police Depart (@DallasPD) July 8, 2016
We’ll update this story with more information as it becomes available.