Saturday 16 December 2017

Dallas sniper had arsenal of weapons and bomb parts

The man named as sniper Micah Johnson, in a photo from his Facebook page Picture: Reuters
The man named as sniper Micah Johnson, in a photo from his Facebook page Picture: Reuters

Will Wiessert and Martin Grant

An Army veteran killed by Dallas police after the sniper killings of five officers amassed a personal arsenal at his home, including bomb-making materials, bulletproof vests, rifles, ammunition and a journal of combat tactics.

The news came as Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said there appeared to have been one gunman in the Dallas shootings.

The veteran, identified as 25-year-old Micah Johnson, told authorities that he was upset about the police shootings of two black men earlier this week and wanted to exterminate whites, "especially white officers," officials said.

He was killed by a robot-delivered bomb after the shootings, which marked the deadliest day for US law enforcement since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Armed police officers respond after shots were fired at a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas, killing five officers Picture: Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News
Armed police officers respond after shots were fired at a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas, killing five officers Picture: Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News

In all, five officers died and seven others were shot and wounded.

In Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee, authorities said gun-wielding civilians also shot officers in individual attacks that came after the two black men died at the hands of police in Louisiana and Minnesota.

Murdered: Brent Thompson Picture: Reuters
Murdered: Brent Thompson Picture: Reuters

Johnson was a private first class from the Dallas suburb of Mesquite who specialised in carpentry and masonry.

He served in the Army Reserve for six years starting in 2009 and did one tour in Afghanistan from November 2013 to July 2014.

Murdered: Patrick Zamarripa Picture: Reuters
Murdered: Patrick Zamarripa Picture: Reuters

After the attack, he tried to take refuge in a parking garage and exchanged gunfire with police, Police Chief David Brown said.

The suspect described his motive during negotiations and said he acted alone and was not affiliated with any groups, Mr Brown said.

Johnson was black. Law enforcement officials did not immediately disclose the race of the dead officers.

Three of them were named last night as Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer Brent Thompson (43); US navy veteran and Dallas Police Department officer Patrick Zamarripa; and former officer Michael Krol.

Eddie Geraghty and his daughter Rania (11), who live in Dallas
Eddie Geraghty and his daughter Rania (11), who live in Dallas

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said last night that the man suspected of killing the five police officers had acted alone.

"We believe now that the city is safe, and the suspect is dead, and we can move on to healing," he told reporters at a news conference.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said at the news conference, however, that it remained important to determine whether there were any other co-conspirators to the attack.

Last Saturday, the gunman posted an angry rant against white people on the Facebook page of a group called Black Panther Party Mississippi, denouncing lynching and the brutalising of black people.

Why do so many whites (not all) enjoy killing and participating in the death of innocent beings," Johnson wrote, above a video of what appeared to be people participating in a whale-killing.

In the disjointed July 2 post, Johnson expressed anger over lynchings of black people and "our ancestors" being beaten, mutilated and killed.

"Then they all stand around and smile while their picture is taken with a hung, burned and brutalised black person," he wrote.

"They even go to our homeland and shoot our endangered wildlife for sport."

On Johnson's own Facebook page, which was deactivated yesterday, a profile photo showed him with one arm raised and fist clenched in a Black Power salute.

The page included images of a Black Power symbol and a red, black and green flag associated with the Black Liberation Army.

US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said it was unclear if Johnson was a member of a black nationalist group.

Johnson's rampage took place during a protest over the fatal police shootings of two black men this week in Louisiana and Minnesota.

The protesters had gathered after a Minnesota officer on Wednesday had fatally shot Philando Castile a day earlier while he was in a car with a woman and a child in a St Paul suburb. The aftermath of the shooting was livestreamed in a widely shared Facebook video.

A day earlier, Alton Sterling was shot in Louisiana after being pinned to the pavement by two white officers. That, too, was captured on a mobile phone video.

Last night, President Obama, speaking after a meeting with European Union leaders ahead of a NATO summit in Poland, said he had spoken with Dallas's mayor, Mike Rawlings, to extend his condolences and offer support.

Mr Obama said he told Rawlings that the federal government would provide the city with any assistance it may need as it deals with this "tremendous tragedy".

"We still don't know all the facts, what we do know is there has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement.

"We also know that when people are armed with powerful weapons, unfortunately it makes attacks like these more deadly and more tragic.

"In the days ahead, we are going to have to consider those realities as well."

Irish families living in Dallas were enjoying a barbecue just minutes away from the scene where five police officers were gunned down.

David Devlin, from Emyvale, Co Monaghan, was enjoying the sunny evening with his fiancé Hayley O'Sullivan, and their friends Eddie, Samia and Rania (11) Geraghty from Co Roscommon in Dallas.

"We thought it was maybe people with leftover fireworks from the July 4 celebrations," Mr Devlin told the Irish Independent.

"A lot of people were locked in their offices and they closed all the streets. Those police officers have families and kids, they went to work expecting to go home and now they're not."

Accountant Eddie Geraghty, who has lived in the area for 20 years, said he was stunned when he realised the shots he heard had killed five policemen.

"The fact that everybody wants to have guns, I just don't fully get it. A lot of people have guns to defend their houses, but to me it doesn't make a lot of sense," he said.

"The Dallas police have a very good record with policing in minority areas and I can't understand why this happened."

Irish Independent

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