Dallas residents are waking up this morning to the deadliest day for police officers since September 11, 2001.
At 7:00 last night, protesters gathered in a Dallas park and began marching through the streets of downtown. They were responding to officer-involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota. The rally was peaceful; police officers were present and were conversing with the crowd.
Just before 9 PM, as Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said, “Our worst nightmare happened.” Shots rang out. Ten police officers were shot, along with one bystander. An eleventh officer was later shot during an exchange of gunfire with a suspect. Five of the officers died. Some of the six who were wounded are undergoing surgery.
According to Police Chief David Brown, four people coordinated the attack with rifles, positioning themselves in triangulated locations near the end of the route protesters planned to take. The chief noted that snipers fired “ambush-style” from an “elevated position.” Some of the officers were shot in the back.
At 3:06 AM, authorities announced that a suspect had died after a standoff with police in a garage at El Centro college. Three people are now in custody. K-9 units are sweeping the area for possible bombs; large sections of downtown remain closed this morning.
Retired FBI special agent Steve Moore told reporters that an attack of this magnitude required advance work. “This was an attack planned long before—waiting for an opportunity to go,” according to Moore. “They may not have planned the location, they may not have planned the vantage point. But they had prepared for an attack before last night’s shooting is my guess.”
As a longtime Dallas resident, I can tell you that our city is shocked and in mourning. The violence that is escalating across the world has come home. Now we are faced with a choice. We can let this horrible tragedy polarize us, turning the shooting into a racial conflict that will escalate and beget more violence. That’s just what those who terrorized our city want us to do.
Or we can go into Dallas today in confidence, grateful to live in this great city and thankful for the police officers who risk their lives every day for us. We can pray passionately for those who were attacked and for their families, asking God to give them the strength only he can provide. We can come together as one, determined that those who terrorized our city will not win and resolved to fight racism and anything else that would divide us.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Our God who is love (1 John 4:8) calls us to love each other, to grieve with each other, and to stand with each other.
What we do in coming days will define us as a city. Please pray for us to redeem this tragedy with unity, to the glory of God.