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Police Identify Lone Gunman In Dallas Shooting


This has been a wrenching week. On Tuesday, a black man selling CDs outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge was killed by police. Wednesday, another black man in suburban St. Paul was killed after being pulled over for a broken tail light. On Thursday, at the end of a march protesting those deaths, five police officers were killed and another seven wounded by gunfire in downtown Dallas. There's now growing evidence that there was a single gunman acting alone. NPR national security correspondent David Welna is here to talk about what is known about last night's attack and also about that gunman. David, who was the suspect killed by the police?

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: Robert, his name is Micah Xavier Johnson. He was 25 years old and African-American, and he lived with his mother in the East Dallas suburb of Mesquite. The only solid information we have about him is that he served in the Army Reserve for six years after high school, until April of last year. And during that time, he did a nine-month tour of duty in Afghanistan as a private first class, which he returned from two years ago, having earned seven medals and ribbons for his service.

SIEGEL: Are there any signs that he had been planning to carry out this attack?

WELNA: Well, law enforcement sources tell NPR that evidence they haven't yet disclosed leads them to think that Johnson did indeed act alone. There isn't a lot to go on in terms of his motives. A neighbor is reported to have said he contacted local police six months ago saying he was upset and claimed children had stolen guns from his house. On his mother's Facebook page, there are photos of him, as well as unidentified shots of a couple of men in full army camouflage uniforms, handling weapons. But that's about as much as we have there.

SIEGEL: David, we first started to get some details about how Johnson was cornered this morning during an emotional news conference in which Dallas Police Chief David Brown spoke. What did he say?

WELNA: Well, this was after a peaceful march last night, and he said that his men had been attacked at the end of that march. They went looking for the source of the gunfire. They found a gunman - Johnson - on the second floor of a parking garage, and they cornered him in that parking garage.


DAVID BROWN: And we tried to negotiate for several hours. Negotiations broke down. We had an exchange of gunfire with the suspect. We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was.

WELNA: Chief Brown said the bomb killed Johnson. But before that happened, he said a hostage negotiator had done what he called an exceptional job getting him to talk over a period of several hours.

SIEGEL: Yes, and it's from that talk between the hostage negotiator and the suspect that we got some details of what we know of the motives of the man.

WELNA: That's - that's right. This shooting was apparently in reprisal for the deaths this week of the two black men in Baton Rouge and suburban St. Paul.


BROWN: The suspect said 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.

WELNA: The police chief also said that Johnson insisted that he was not affiliated with any groups and that he was acting alone. Three other suspects have been detained - a woman and two men - but Brown refused to provide any information about their status.

SIEGEL: As you know, for much of last night and this morning, we were hearing about snipers or gunmen in the plural, of an ambush, of the other people who had been detained. All of this has now been retracted?

WELNA: Well, it hasn't been retracted officially, but there has been some walking back of it. Some investigators have concluded from what they've seen of the evidence, which, as I said, has not yet been disclosed, that there are no signs of other people being involved with this. Initially, it seemed that the gunfire was coming from several directions because there was a lot of it. But apparently, they're concluding that this may have been just a lone gunman.

SIEGEL: Testimony to how much confusion there can be during such a chaotic situation.

WELNA: Indeed.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's David Welna. Thanks, David.

WELNA: You're welcome, Robert. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Welna is NPR's national security correspondent.