tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC July 8, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
tonight, breaking news. dallas police ambush. five killed, seven injured by sniper fire during a protest over the killings of black men by police. by stander videos capturing the horror downtown. dallas, a war zone. >> shots fired. officer down. >> a suspect identified. an army veteran who said he wanted to kill white cops. how he laughed at police and how they killed him using a bomb carrying robot when negotiations failed. the attack on the heels of two african-american men killed by police this week. the president calling the ambush vicious, caulated and despicable. police departments nationwide on edge after the deadliest day for american law enforcement since 9/11. we're live from dallas with all the latest on
the investigation. "nightly news" begins right now. >> tragedy in dallas. this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. reporting tonight from dallas. good evening. tonight police say the shots that turned the streets behind me into a killing zone, taking the lives of 15 police officers, wounding seven others and two civilians came from one man operating alone with a grudge against police and white people. tonight the nation shares dallas' anxiety and shock over how a peaceful protest of police shootings of black men turned into an ambush of police officers here in texas. as marchers ran in fear from the shots, police took cover and desperately tried to neutralize the attacker. tonight we've learned the killer is a black army veteran of the war in afghanistan. gabe gutierrez has
details. >> go, go, go! >> reporter: the ambush was well-planned, well-thought-out and evil, police say. hundreds of protesters caught in the crossfire, while officers were targeted in cold blood. >> i didn't see anybody else get shot. it was just the cops. >> reporter: tonight the gunman is identified as 25-year-old micah johnson. law enforcement sources tell nbc news johnson was wearing body armor during the shooting. and station kxas reports he was laughing and singing during his hours-long standoff with police. >> the suspect said he was upset at white people. the suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers. >> reporter: the march began just after 7:00 following this week's high profile police shootings in louisiana and minnesota. starting in belo garden park near main street, the first hour largely peaceful. officers along the route not wearing riot gear, even posing for
pictures with participants. but just before 9:00, chaos caught ducking for cover. >> shots fired. officer down. it's an assist officer. >> reporter: panic in downtown dallas. >> just started to run and grab kids and help their mothers get to somewhere safe. we didn't want anyone else to get hurt. >> reporter: community activist jeff hood had organized the protest. >> every 25 feet, and that's when i heard it. pop, pop, bah, bah. that's when i looked up and i saw what i believe were two police officers drop. >> reporter: at 9:41 police cheer out thl out theer bank of america building, the city's tallest skyscraper. one by one the horrifying death toll rises as it appears that two snipers shot officers from elevated positions during the rally. >> i heard the first shot, but like him, i didn't realize it was a shot. and the crowd, there was screaming and pandemonium. >> reporter: according to a law enforcement
source, at some point the shooter was hit by gunfire. officers following his blood trail. after 11:00, s.w.a.t. teams cornering johnson in a parking garage, the negotiation going well past midnight until they have no other option than to send in an explosive device sent in by robot and detonate it near the suspect. eight hours after the rally started, the standoff is over, the gunman dead. police say at least three people were detained and questioned, but late today dallas' mayor said he believes johnson was the lone gunman. police say -- >> i can't believe what's going on. >> reporter: tonight this man is grateful he survived and credits a police officer with saving his life. >> i just wanted to get out of there. for a split second, it seemed like i wasn't going to be able to get out of there. that's how bad he was shooting. >> reporter: authorities say johnson used a handgun and a rifle during the shooting. late today authorities said that there are no longer any suspects or persons of interest in custody, but lester, this investigation is still ongoing. many streets here in
dallas remain shut down. they'll remain that way until next wednesday. >> we saw marchers here even just a little while ago still looking to get in and get their belongings and their cars, but again all this shut down. >> exactly. >> gabe gutierrez, thank you. more about the police officers killed in the horrific ambush here. joe fryer has more on the five fallen officers and the nine others injured in the attack including two bystanders like a mother who reportedly shielded her sons from the gunfire. >> reporter: a poignant memorial outside the dallas police department is just starting to take shape as stories of the five fallen officers begin to emerge. brent thompson was a seven-year veteran of the d.a.r.t. police force who got married to a fellow officer just two weeks ago. >> that's one of the tough things. the loss of a great officer, the loss of a husband after being married only two weeks. >> reporter: the four other victims served the dallas police department including officer patrick zamarripa, a navy veteran who survived three tours in iraq. he, too, was married and leaves behind a 2-year-old girl,
lyncoln. ben rogers was his friend. >> this police officer, it doesn't get any better than this. this is pure goodness. i mean, he's just a guy who wants to serve and protect during the day and then go watch a ball game with his family at night. >> reporter: another victim, officer michael krol became a cop so he could help people. >> wanted to make things right. was really committed. you know. that is probably the most frustrating thing for him, he couldn't solve it all. >> reporter: seven more officers were injured including misty mcbride who was shot in the arm and abdomen. her daughter is grateful. >> she can live on for tomorrow, and i'm just glad that she's alive really. >> reporter: two citizens were also hit by gunfire. shetamia taylor was hit after reportedly shielding her boys from the bullets. the tragedy a devastating blow for the city where some feel the relationship with the community is
improving. since 2010 excessive force complaints have dropped by 83%. now they're mourning the loss of five officers who protected their city to the end. >> we don't feel much support most days. let's not make today most days. please. we need your support. >> reporter: of the seven officers who were injured in this attack, officials say most have been treated and released from the hospital. lester, this is the deadliest day for u.s. law enforcement since 9/11. >> joe fryer, thank you. late details are emerging about the lone suspect, a 25-year-old black army veteran who lived outside of dallas. police searched his house today carrying out bags of evidence. nbc's jacob rascon is also at the home. he has more for us. >> reporter: they spent nearly three hours inside the gunman's home. dallas police detectives and atf agents emerging with
bags of evidence. inside, bombmaking materials, ballistic vests, rifles, ammunition and a journal of combat tactics. a neighbor, who didn't want to be identified, telling us micah johnson didn't hide his arsenal. how did you know he had a lot of guns? >> he told us. i know he was part of the army or sergeant or something. i know he's military or something. >> reporter: the gunman worked as an aide for mentally challenged kids and adults. he and his mother lived together in this two-story home for many years, neighbors say. all just 20 minutes from the ambush. military records confirm johnson was an army reservist for six years, serving two tours in afghanistan, the recipient of various military medals and ribbons. a neighbor says he would see johnson practicing drills on obstacle courses he built in his backyard, armed with firearms, wearing his army uniform. this man, who came out of the gunman's home, didn't want to answer questions. what was your reaction
when you found out what happened? >> excuse me. >> reporter: tonight, johnson's aunt telling nbc news she believes recent officer-involved shootings of black men drove him to go on this rampage. tonight the governor of texas says that, although investigators believe that johnson was a lone gunman, they want to be confident there weren't any co-conspirators or anybody else who knew about the attacks. that investigation is ongoing. lester? >> all right, jacob rascon, thank you. with the country on edge over the dallas killings, police departments in several cities are taking extra precautions for the safety of their officers tonight. there have been at least three other incidents in which police officers were shot. we get more tonight from cynthia mcfadden. >> reporter: tonight, a nation united in pain but divided, too, as people gather around the country rallying against violence. while the violence continues.
this morning in georgia, a police officer ambushed and shot responding to a 9/11 call. in baldwin, missouri, an officer shot during a traffic stop. yesterday afternoon in tennessee, authorities say a gunman upset about police violence against african-americans killed one woman and shot three others including a police officer. the new york tabloids highlights the country's division. "madness," "civil war." in washington congressman john lewis pleaded for unity. >> we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters. if not, we will perish as fools. >> reporter: then what words could not accomplish -- a moment of silence in congress. tonight, police departments around the country on heightened alert. officers ordered to double up before going out in many cities including philadelphia, boston, seattle and chicago. the always-delicate balance between protecting the community and protecting themselves highlighted by last night's shooting.
>> even as bullets were hailing down, the officers in dallas went to the defense and the protection of the protesters. >> reporter: in new york, a somber mayor bill de blasio tried to quiet the jangled nerves of usually stoic new yorkers. in los angeles rapper snoop dogg at a peaceful march outside the graduation for the latest class of l.a. police recruits, seeking, he says, to encourage dialogue between the black community and police. john legend weighing in on social media. being against cops killing is not equal to being for killing cops. unity, yes, but division, too. instagram is packed with images. is his life worth more than mine? his life matters. his life matters. a woman in washington summing up the feelings of many. i don't want black men shot at traffic stops. i don't want cops shot by snipers.
i don't want kids shot at school. i don't want any of this. a nation in mourning with serious work to do. cynthia mcfadden, nbc news, new york. president obama today responded to the massacre here during his trip to poland for the nato summit. and both hillary clinton and donald trump canceled campaign events today, this as calls were renewed for more gun control. nbc's andrea mitchell has more on the political reaction. >> reporter: president obama, an ocean away, once again responding to a crisis back home. >> i'd ask all americans to say a prayer for these officers and their families. >> reporter: and last night, before dallas, his first comments about the two african-american men killed by police this week. >> this is not just a black issue. it's not just a hispanic issue. this is an american issue. >> reporter: not breaking away from his trip yet, although he still may. even as the nation is gripped by the horror
of dallas, dallas now halting presidential politics, at least for today. hillary clinton's first planned rally with vice president joe biden in scranton canceled, trump's rally in miami also canceled. trump tweeting prayers and condolences to all of the families who are so thoroughly devastated by the horrors we're watching take place in our country. clinton did keep a commitment to an episcopal church conference in philadelphia. and she told lester -- >> i want white people to understand how african-americans feel every day. i want people to put themselves in the
shoes of police officers and their families. >> reporter: at the capitol, a moment of silence, an emotional speaker ryan. >> i know to be a cop's wife or a cop's husband is to prepare for the worse. but who could fathom such horror as this? >> reporter: but republican leaders still blocking action on guns. >> we have too many guns. there's been too much violence. >> reporter: while in cleveland, tighter security for the republican national convention in a city already preparing for the worst. police, politicians and pastors all reflecting on how to respond to a heartsick nation. andrea mitchell, nbc news, philadelphia. still ahead tonight, how police used a robot to take out the suspect. a method apparently never before used on u.s. soil to deliver deadly force.
back now from dallas where police ended the deadly siege on the city last night by using a robot with a bomb to kill the ambushed suspect. it's a tactic straight from america's wars in iraq and afghanistan. as nbc's tom costello reports, it appears to be the first time that police have used a robot bomb on u.s. soil. >> reporter: with five officers dead, 14 people injured and unable to get a clean shot, dallas police turned to overseas battlefield tactics to take out the gunman using a robot to deliver then detonate an explosive. >> other options would have exposed our officers to great danger. >> reporter: in recent
years s.w.a.t. teams have come to rely on robots, sent in with cameras to locate a gunman, to inspect suspicious bags, even detonate explosives. now for the first time delivery and detonating a bomb. scott reese spent 30 years with the lapd, 10 years on s.w.a.t. >> i think it's very unusual, i think it was very innovative. and i think they made the correct decision. >> reporter: but delivering a bomb was not in the original intent. robots have been around for decades, but the battles in iraq and afghanistan necessitated a far more robust and capable product. now bomb squads and police departments around the country are using this technology every day. outside of washington, the montgomery county maryland bomb squad has a small fleet of remotely operated robots. >> this is our largest robot, basically a front-end loader. >> reporter: from very big to very small,
equipped with cameras, microphones, climbing tracks, claws, whatever is needed. >> we think robotics is capable of doing. we can pick up a small beaker of unstable chemicals, let's say, or pick up a big box or open a car door. >> reporter: and in dallas, to take out a cop killer. the question for s.w.a.t. teams nationwide tonight is whether dallas marks a watershed moment in police tactics. tom costello, nbc news, washington. we're back in a moment with a father and son who attended last night's protests only to become eyewitnesses to horror.
here was kellon nixon who brought along his son. we had a good chat about what unfolded around them last night. what made you come down last night? >> i wanted to show my support for alton sterling, for mr. castile. i wanted to be a part of the movement. i wanted to teach my son that we have rights in this country and we can express our frustration in a positive way. >> what did you think when you heard the shots? >> why? i thought, we just made a grave mistake. we set the american rights back many years, human race back many years by allowing this to happen. >> are you afraid with what happens from now on? >> i'm not afraid at all. i'm cautious. i'm prepared. i'm preparing. but i'm not afraid. being afraid only causes the person to act irrationally. that's the biggest problems between
african-americans and the police is that we're both afraid of one another so we act irrationally. >> what's the message for police? >> love their families, first of all. make sure their family knows they love them every day before they leave the house. what's the message i don't want them to take is to be afraid of african-american men. i don't want them to think we don't want them to do their job as long as they're doing their job within the confines of the law. >> i take it you don't want your son to be afraid of police? >> not at all. i don't want him to be afraid of any man. >> elijah is only 5, but one day you'll talk about this moment. how will you describe it? >> to go from peace, from joy, to being inspired to turn to horror in the way that it did, life is fragile. you just never know. >> my conversation with kellon nixon earlier on today. when i come back, we'll have more on where we are as a nation. that big firet a recycng
left a segment of this country opening questioning the values of their very lives. and then late yesterday, the horror here in dallas. the hateful attack by a young black man against police officers ironically as they enforced one of our basic rights, the right to have a peaceful protest. the nation takes a step back to find meanings in all of this. one thing is for sure, everyone who stepped on the street last night whether they carried a sign or carried a badge had the expectation and certainly the right to safely return back to their families once the march was over. those whose lives were suddenly and violently taken in those two days have left their indelible marks on our long journey to reconcile our differences, to reconcile race. we're not there yet, but maybe we can agree that too many tears have fallen for us to stop trying. some of you will be leaving us now. for others another half hour of "nightly news" is just ahead. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc
this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. reporting tonight from dallas. >> good evening. we're back with more of our continuing coverage of the deadly ambush on police officers here in dallas. five officers we killed, nine others injured by sniper fire during a protest over the killings of black men by police. late today authorities said they believe this was the act of a lone gunman, 25-year-old micah xavier johnson, a black army veteran who lived just outside dallas. police say he told them he was out to kill white officers.