08 July 2016

Dallas Leaves More Questions Than Answers

A coordinated shooting by at least two gunmen in Dallas yesterday killed at least five law enforcement officers, and left six seven more officers and two civilians a civilian shot, in a coordinated attack at a Black Lives Matters protest march.  The march was protesting the deaths at police hands of a black man in Minnesota and another in Louisiana, each documented on video that went viral which make any justification for those killings seem dubious. There is no indications that the shooters had any connections to the protest organizers who were holding one of many peaceful rallies in cities across the nation including Denver.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Dallas shooting is that something like this hadn't happened sooner.  The means, opportunity and motive have been around for a very long time.  No plan to stop something like this could have thwarted determined perpetrators.  But, something nearly universal in our social fabric prevented it. But, yesterday it did happen.  More law enforcement officers died in the incident than any other since 9-11 in 2001, and that wasn't specifically targeted at law enforcement in particular.

Mass shootings are exceedingly rare.  Mass shootings involving coordinated perpetrators outside the context of gang crime are even more rare (although the ISIS inspired mass shooting by a married couple in San Bernadino of local government agency co-workers was another one in recent memory.) Mass shootings directed at law enforcement in particular are virtually unprecedented in the U.S., although they are common in Mexico, Columbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and pretty much every other country with an active counterinsurgency or drug war in progress. This looks more like domestic terrorism in furtherance of a political agenda than the usual random or employment or domestic relationship related mass shooting.

One suspect was arrested following a shootout with police.  Another killed himself was killed by a bomb squad robot carrying a bomb placed there by police that police detonated after being wounded in a 45 minute or longer shootout with police.  Multiple suspicious packages that may have been bombs were dealt with by the bomb squad, apparently without incident, and one or both of the shooter suspects said that there were bombs.  A woman near the shooters was also arrested and has apparently not been released. A third suspect is apparently also in custody, but it isn't clear under what circumstances that arrest took place. No one knows if there are other conspirators still at large. No public information has been released about any of them. The suspect who was killed said that he was acting alone, that there were bombs placed, and that he wanted to kill white people and in particular police officers because of the wrongs done by police officers.

A man legally carrying a rifle in downtown Dallas who was wearing camouflage in the area who was not involved was named as a person of interest, surrendered himself and his gun and was released. Two other suspects who left the scene in a car at high speed after tossing a purportedly suspicious package into the car were stopped, interrogated and released.

The two or three arrested suspects who were not released are reportedly not cooperating with police, and nothing has been released about their identities or the identity of the suspect who killed himself.  The Santa Monica Observer has made unsubstantiated claims about their identities and motives found nowhere else, but those claims from a news outlet far from the scene don't even bear repeating until they are substantiated by a more reliable source.

So we wait with questions.

Who was involved in carrying out the shooting and preparing bombs and what motivated them? How long had they been formulating their plans? Is this a larger conspiracy?  Will this incident provoke copycat shootings?

Could anything be done to prevent this? Why did this happen now, rather than years or decades ago?

Some answers will come soon.  We may never have good answers to some of the other questions.

UPDATED as indicated at 7:40 a.m. MT on July 8, 2016.

SECOND UPDATE at 9:50 a.m. MT on July 8, 2016.
The dead gunman in the Dallas ambush that left five officers dead has been identified as 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson of Mesquite, Texas, law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation told CNN. Johnson had no criminal record or known terror ties, a law enforcement official said. Johnson had served in the U.S. Army Reserve, two U.S. officials said. A neighbor said there are police cars outside Johnson's home. Wayne Bynoe, the neighbor, told CNN that Johnson lived with his mother and "keeps to himself."
From CNN.

No information was released about the other suspects.

1 comment:

andrew said...

Authorities now say that this was the work of a single man acting alone which makes no sense in light of the confused early news, but early news if often confused and gets it wrong.