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Five police shot dead as sniper suspect says he wanted to "kill white people"

The suspect has been named as Micah Xavier Johnson

Updated 2.12pm

SNIPERS SHOT DEAD five police officers and injured up to a dozen others in Dallas overnight, leaving the city “heartbroken”, its police chief has said.

At a press conference this afternoon, police chief David Brown said:

We’re hurting. Our profession is hurting, Dallas officers are hurting. We are heartbroken.
All I know is, this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens

The shootings, which the police called a “terrorist incident”, took place as people gathered to protest two shootings of black men by police officers which yet again shone the spotlight on the treatment of people of colour by law enforcement in the US.

The shooting began as the rally was winding up at about 9pm local time last night.

Police Shootings Protests Dallas A Dallas police officer, who did not want to be identified, takes a moment as she guards an intersection in the early morning LM Otero LM Otero

A suspect, who has since been killed by police, has been named as Michah Xavier Johnson.

At this afternoon’s press conference, officials said that the shooter told police he wanted to “kill officers” and “kill white people especially white officers”.

Police have also said that Johnson told them that he was not affiliated to any organisation.

Police had put the city on lockdown after Johnson warned that bombs had been planted throughout the city centre. Sweeps found no explosives, police said.

Johnson (25) lived in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, CBS News and NBC News reported. He was killed in a tense showdown with police after the shootings, which also left two civilians wounded.

Local media identified one of the civilians as Shetamia Taylor, 37, saying she was shot in the leg while attending the protest with her four sons.

After a protracted standoff during which police traded fire with Johnson at a downtown garage, he was killed by a police bomb robot.

Johnson was killed by the robot after negotiations broke down.

Three other suspects remain in custody.

Police Shootings Protests Dallas Tony Gutierrez Tony Gutierrez

President Barack Obama denounced the shootings as “a vicious, despicable and calculated attack on law enforcement”. He was speaking during a press conference at a NATO summit in Warsaw.

He added:

Let’s be clear. There is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement.

The incident was the biggest single loss of life for law enforcement in America since the September 11, 2001 attacks, and could further strain already tense race relations in the country.

Video captured at the scene (click here if you can’t see it) shows the building where the shootings were taking place:

The event in Dallas was a Black Lives Matter rally organised in protest against the killings.

A man turned himself into the police after the authorities tweeted a picture of him wearing camouflage and an assault rifle slung across his shoulder, with a call for information on his whereabouts.

It is legal for those with permits to openly carry weapons in the state of Texas. The man, named as Mark Hughes, was later released.

In a press conference this morning, the Dallas Chief of Police David Brown said there was a standoff with snipers who had fired on police from a second-floor garage.

One witness at the rally told CNN it was “complete pandemonium”.

“There was blacks, whites, latinos, everybody. There was a mixed community here protesting. And this just came out of nowhere,” Cory Hughes, a brother of the man who turned himself in and was cleared, said.

I’m still kind of startled, shaken up. As you know being in the front, it’s almost like the gunshots were coming at us. It was complete pandemonium… It’s bananas.

Police Shootings Protests Dallas Dallas police order people away from the area after several police were shot in downtown Dallas LM Otero LM Otero

A woman who was in the vicinity of the garage was arrested.

Police believe there were four people working together in a triangulated area from elevated positions, culminating in the shooting at the protest. It is yet to be determined if the shooters were part of the rally or separate to it.

They are “leaving every motive on the table” said the police chief.

Police had been monitoring social media, and police had not made connections yet between postings on Facebook and other sites to the shooters.

Police Shootings Protests Dallas A Dallas police officer covers his face as he stands with others outside the emergency room at Baylor University Medical Centre Tony Gutierrez Tony Gutierrez

“It is a heartbreaking morning,” said the Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings.

Two suspects with camouflaged bags were also stopped by police and are now in police custody and being interviewed.

The suspect which has been exchanging fire with police told negotiations that “the end is coming” and that he was coming to get them.

He said that there are “bombs all over the place in garage and downtown”, adding:

…so we are being very careful in our tactics so we don’t injure or put any of our citizens in harms way… as we negotiate further.

“We still don’t have a complete comfort level that we have all the suspects so we will continue a very, very rigorous investigation and search of downtown,” said Brown.

The Mayor said that the White House and Governor’s office offered help.

Police Shootings Protests Dallas Dallas police move to detain a driver after several police officers were shot in downtown Dallas LM Otero LM Otero

“I’ve never been more proud of a police officer and being a part of this great noble profession seeing the courage, the professionalism and just the grit to stay on scene in an area looking for suspects knowing that we are vulnerable,” said the chief of police.

We continue to fight the good fight to bring this to a conclusion but it is still a very tenuous situation.

Police Shootings Protests DallasSource: LM Otero

Witnesses reported hearing dozens of gunshots that sounded like semi-automatic rifle fire. "The shots were coming from the roof," a protester told KTVT television, a CBS affiliate.

- Additional reporting Aoife Barry and Rónán Duffy

Read: Woman posts live Facebook video after her boyfriend is shot dead by police>

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