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Nation on Edge: Dallas Ambush Leaves 12 Police Officers Wounded, 5 Dead in the Wake of Police Shootings of Black Men

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Dallas Police respond after shots were fired at a Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Dallas on Thursday, July 7, 2016. | Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News

In what has been characterized as the deadliest day for law enforcement in the U.S. since 9/11, gunmen in Dallas waged a coordinated, ambush-style attack on police during a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest over the recent shooting deaths of Black men by police. As a result, five officers were killed and seven were wounded. Two civilians were also wounded. Authorities do not believe the attack was related to international terrorism or to the anti-police brutality protest, as CNN reported.

This shooting comes during a week rocked by the deaths of Black men by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“We believe that these suspects were positioning themselves in a way to triangulate on these officers from two different perches in garages in the downtown area, and planned to injure and kill as many law enforcement officers as they could,” said Dallas Police Chief David Brown at a news conference, as reported by NBC News. Brown said at least two snipers shot from elevated positions right before 9 p.m. CT on Thursday, shooting some officers in the back in an “ambush-style” attack.

RAW VIDEO: Our cameras captured the panic after the first shots were fired in downtown #Dallas Thursday night

Three people were in custody in connection with the shooting, according to NBC News.  Dallas police chief revealed in a morning press conference that one of those in custody is a woman.  A fourth suspect who had exchanged gunfire with police in a community college parking garage was reportedly neutralized at 2:45 a.m. CT after telling police negotiators that “the end is coming” and that “there are bombs all over the place in this garage and downtown.”

The Dallas police chief, who is Black, adding during the press conference that the suspect told authorities, “he was upset about Black Lives Matter, he said he was upset about the recent police shootings. The suspect said he was upset at white people. The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers. The suspect stated he was not affiliated with any groups, and he stated that he did it alone.”

A Black man named Mark Hughes, brother of protest organizer Cory Hughes, was accused and incorrectly identified as one of the shooting suspects.  Mark Hughes, who was photographed walking with a rifle in the open-carry state, was interrogated by authorities and  subsequently released in the early hours of Friday morning. 

“I just got out of the interrogation room for about 30 minutes with police officers lying saying they had video of me shooting, which is a lie,” Mark Hughes told CBS11. “[They said] that they have witnesses saying I shot a gun, which is a lie. I mean at the end of the day, the system is trying to get me.”

While in Poland for a meeting with NATO, President Barack Obama condemned what he called a “vicious, callous and despicable attack.”

“I believe I speak for every single American when I say that we are horrified over these events and that we stand united with the people and the police department in Dallas,” the president said.

Some white conservative figures and media outlets took to social media, using the moment to attack Black protest and the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

One former Congressman, Joe Walsh, seemed to advocate for a racial holy war against President Obama and the Black Lives Matter movement.

As Princeton professor Eddie Glaude told MSNBC, the Dallas shooting reveals that “the nation is on edge.”  In the coming days, conversations are likely to continue on the cycle of violence, police violence and racial violence in America.

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