Five Dallas officers killed in ambush; bishop calls for prayer and peace

IMAGE: CNS photo/Ralph Lauer, EPA

By David Sedeno

DALLAS (CNS) — Five Dallas law
enforcement officers were assassinated July 7 as at least one sniper opened
fire in downtown Dallas as hundreds of demonstrators were winding down a march
protesting recent fatal officer-involved shootings in other parts of the

The suspected sniper — who had
held dozens of SWAT officers at bay for several hours by saying that there were
bombs planted around the area, that “the end was coming” and that he would take
down more officers — was killed overnight when police sent a robot toward him
and detonated an explosive device attached to the robot.

Neither the dead suspect, nor
three others arrested shortly after the shootings, would be identified because
police said they were continuing their investigation.

The five officers — four from
the Dallas Police Department and one from the Dallas Area Rapid Transit — were
shot around 9 p.m. local time by snipers who targeted law enforcement officials
from a parking garage. The five dead were among 12 officers and two civilians

The attack was the worst loss of
U.S. law enforcement since 9/11.

“We are hurting,” Dallas Police
Chief David Brown said. “Our profession is hurting. Dallas officers are
hurting. We are heartbroken. There are no words to describe the atrocity that
occurred to our city. All I know is that this must stop — this divisiveness
between our police and our citizens.”

He did not identify the Dallas
police officers killed or wounded, although he did say that some of the injured
officers had been released from the hospital and some would need follow-up
care. DART officials identified their officer as Brent Thompson, 43, who had
been on the force since 2009, and said that he had gotten married only two
weeks ago.

Dallas Bishop Kevin J. Farrell,
who has blogged in the past several months about the escalating gun violence
across the country and world, reiterated his call for prayer and peace after
the Dallas attack.

“Our first concern is for the
families who have lost loved ones in this tragic attack,” he said. “We pray for
consolation and healing for both the families and those killed and wounded. We
are reminded of the ever-present danger to those who are dedicated to
protecting us.

“We have been swept up in the escalating
cycle of violence that has now touched us intimately as it has others
throughout our country and the world,” he said. “All lives matter: black,
white, Muslim, Christian, Hindu. We are all children of God, and all human life
is precious.

“We cannot lose respect for each
other and we call upon all of our civic leaders to speak to one another and
work together to come to a sensible resolution to this escalating violence,” he
said. “Let us implore God our heavenly father to touch the minds and hearts of
all people to work together for peace and understanding.”

The bishop was scheduled to
offer a special prayer at an ecumenical gathering at midday July 8 at
Thanksgiving Square in downtown Dallas and was scheduled to celebrate a Mass
for healing at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe on July 9.

The march on June 7 was
organized to show support for families of two men killed earlier in the week in
officer-related shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and in a suburb of Minneapolis-St.

In Baton Rouge, Alton Sterling,
37, was killed July 5 by police during an altercation outside a convenience
store after witnesses said that he had a gun. In Minneapolis, Philando Castile
was fatally shot after a traffic stop on July 6.

More than 1,000 people walked
through the western part of the downtown Dallas area for a march and rally and
as the event was winding down, gunfire erupted shortly before 9 p.m.

Social media posts and live
televised images showed the sniper opening fire on police, who returned fire, and
of police running toward the sounds of gunfire and of people running from the
gunfire. Police kept pushing people away from the area after the suspect was
cornered in the second-floor garage of El Centro, a community college housed in
a multistory downtown building.

As information rolled in
throughout the evening, the number of officers wounded and dead climbed and
Chief Brown alluded during an overnight news conference that negotiations with
the holed-up suspect were not going well and that officers would do everything
necessary to keep Dallas citizens safe.

“He was upset about ‘Black Lives
Matter,'” Brown said. “He was upset about the recent police shootings. He was
upset at white people. Stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white

“He said that we will eventually
find the IEDs,” the chief said. “The suspect stated that he was not affiliated
with any groups and that he did this alone.”

Brown said that the
investigation and search for any others suspects would continue. A six-block by
three-block section in the western end of downtown Dallas, coincidentally near
Dealey Plaza where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated Nov. 22, 1963, was
closed July 7 as police continued their investigation.

The attack on the police was
second in as many years. In June 2015, James Boulware shot up police
headquarters from an armored van, then led police on a high-speed chase before
being killed by police after a stand-off.

Mayor Mike Rawlings, who
appeared with the police chief during the various news conferences, said that
police need support now more than ever.

The police chief said that he
was proud of the officers who continually give of themselves to protect people
every day.

“We believe in the right to
protest peacefully and these were peaceful protests until this happened,” Chief
Brown said. “We also believe in keeping our officers safe.

“We are not going to let a
coward who would ambush police officers change our democracy, our city. Our
country is better than that.”

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Sedeno is executive editor of
The Texas Catholic and Revista Catolica, the English- and Spanish-language newspapers
of the Dallas Diocese.

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