The black US Army veteran who killed five Dallas police officers donned a protective vest and used a military-style semi-automatic rifle, it was revealed yesterday.
Micah Johnson was killed by a robot-delivered bomb last on Thursday after the shootings, in which seven policemen and two civilians were also injured.
In Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee, gun-wielding civilians also shot police officers in individual attacks that came after two black men were killed last week in Louisiana and Minnesota. Two officers were wounded, one critically.
“America is weeping,” said Republican Congressman GK Butterfield, head of the Congressional Black Caucus, reflecting mounting despair.
President Barack Obama and Texas’s governor Greg Abbott asked for the public’s prayers. In a letter posted online, Abbott said “every life matters” and urged Texans to come together. “In the end,” he wrote, “evil always fails.”
Johnson, 25, had amassed a personal arsenal at his home in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, including bomb-making materials, rifles, ammunition and a journal of combat tactics.
He followed black militant groups on social media, including one that posted a message the day before his attack encouraging violence against police.
Johnson was a private in the US Army Reserve for six years starting in 2009 , and completed one tour in Afghanistan from November 2013 to July 2014.
In Afghanistan, he was accused of sexual harassment by a female soldier and was sent back to the US with the recommendation he receive an “other than honourable” discharge. This was later changed to an honourable discharge.
The episode began on Thursday evening while hundreds of people were gathered to protest against police killings of two more black men: Philando Castile, who was fatally shot near St Paul, Minnesota, and Alton Sterling, who was shot in Louisiana after being pinned to the pavement by two white officers.
After shooting at the Dallas officers, Johnson tried to take refuge in a parking garage and exchanged gunfire with police, Police Chief David Brown said.
Johnson explained his motives during negotiations with the police in which he said he acted alone and was not affiliated with any groups. Police initially suspected that there was more than one shooter.
He said he wanted to exterminate whites, “especially white officers”.
In Washington, the nation’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, called for calm, saying the recent violence can’t be allowed to “precipitate a new normal”.
Lynch said protesters concerned about killings by police should not be discouraged “by those who use your lawful actions as a cover for their heinous violence.”