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Dallas police chief: shooting suspect "wanted to kill white people, especially white officers”

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

The morning after five police officers were killed and nine people injured when a protest against police violence turned into a mass shooting, Dallas police aren’t yet releasing much information about the suspects.

But police have relayed some information about one suspect, who was killed by police after a standoff in a parking garage at El Centro Community College. The suspect told the hostage negotiator he wanted to kill white people and white police officers in particular, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said at a news conference at 7:30 am Central time Friday.

"The suspect said he was upset about Black Lives Matter. He said he was upset about the recent police shooting," Brown said. "The suspect said he was upset with 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 this alone."

The suspect — who has not been named — also said that he’d hidden IEDs in Dallas and the police would eventually find them, Brown said.

Hostage negotiators spoke to the man for several hours. But negotiations eventually broke down, Brown said, and a "bomb robot" ignited an explosive, killing the suspect after "an exchange of gunfire."

Every movement attracts extremists, even violent ones

The shootings in Dallas are likely to worsen divides over the Black Lives Matter movement and the use of force by police. But even if the suspect sympathized with peaceful protesters, that doesn’t mean the protesters are in any way to blame.

As Vox’s German Lopez wrote: "It is possible to oppose all forms of violence. People can oppose and want to prevent racial disparities in police use of force, violence against police officers, and mass shootings — all at the same time. It is not a simple either-or."

The protest was peaceful before the shootings began — police officers were even taking cheerful photos with marchers who were there to protest police violence — and the Dallas Police Department was ahead of the curve in training officers on deescalating situations. That makes the shooting all the more tragic.

Brown said the suspect seemed "lucid" during the hostage negotiation but refused to speculate any further about his mental state: "None of that makes sense," he said. "None of that is a reason, a legitimate reason, to do harm to anyone."

Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify the ambiguity surrounding the "bomb robot."

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