Five police officers were killed and another seven injured in Dallas Thursday night after snipers opened fire at the end of a peaceful protest over recent police shootings of black men.
At least three suspects are in custody in connection with the "ambush-style" attack, which also left two civilians wounded and is said to be the deadliest event for U.S. law enforcement since 9/11.
A fourth suspect -- identified as 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson, a Dallas area resident and U.S. Army veteran -- was killed by a bomb that police detonated during a standoff with the man, who was upset by recent police shootings and "wanted to kill white people, especially white officers," according to Dallas Police Chief David Brown.
"There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city," Brown said. "All I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens."
President Barack Obama, who was attending a NATO meeting in Poland, spoke to reporters early Friday and deplored the "vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement" in Dallas.
"Police in Dallas were on duty doing their jobs, keeping people safe, during peaceful protests," the president said. "These law enforcement officers were targeted, and nearly a dozen officers were shot. Five were killed. Other officers, and at least one civilian, were wounded. Some are in serious condition, and we are praying for their recovery."
Obama added, "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."
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said there will be a public gathering this afternoon at Dallas' Thanksgiving Square to pray for the victims and their families.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, meanwhile, is cutting short an out of state trip and heading to the city, the governor's office said Friday morning.
Abbott also issued a statement after the attack.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Dallas law enforcement community and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) officers killed and injured this evening," he said. "I've spoken to Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw and have directed him to offer whatever assistance the city of Dallas needs at this time. In times like this we must remember -- and emphasize -- the importance of uniting as Americans."
Before shots rang out Thursday night, people in Dallas were protesting the recent police shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota.
U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL,17) is among the lawmakers from Illinois reacting to the episodes of gun violence this week. She issued this statement Friday morning:
Like all Americans, I'm absolutely appalled by the violence and senseless loss of life that we've witnessed over the past few days. As the wife of a sheriff, I know what it feels like to see my husband put his life on the line to keep our community safe. The pain of losing a loved one is universal, and my heart breaks for the families of the fallen officers in Dallas, and also for the families of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and all victims of gun violence we've lost this past week.
As these wounds heal and as families mourn, it's important to remember that America is strongest when we stand together for our shared values - and I hope everyone who's feeling hurt, angry or helpless channels those emotions into peaceful, positive action. We owe it to our children, our communities and all Americans to come together and stop these tragic acts of violence.
U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL,8) also released a comment Friday on the Dallas police shootings:
Last night's coordinated ambush on Dallas law enforcement officers is an atrocity. It will only serve to distract from and undermine the efforts of peaceful protesters seeking an end to the needless violence that took the lives of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile this week. The heartless, calculated and unjustifiable murder of five officers--the very people who put their lives on the line to protect our streets--and wounding of seven others is especially tragic given the Dallas Police Department's leadership in improving community relations, transparency and supporting the rights of peaceful protesters.
Even as last night's chaos was still unfolding, the brave officers being targeted remained in harm's way to protect their fallen colleagues and help save protesters from bursts of gunfire. The most responsible--and best--thing we can do to honor their actions and those we lost is remain calm and not rush to judgment as we continue to learn all the facts. Let us be vigilant in our words to be sure we don't escalate this tragic situation or inflame emotions any further. Now is the time for our nation to come together and unite against all hateful violence. My condolences go out to the families of officers killed and my prayers are with those wounded and still in surgery.