Authorities say the Dallas gunman was plotting a major bombing and urged calm as hundreds of people were arrested in weekend protests in U.S. cities over police violence against black people
The U.S. military veteran who fatally shot five Dallas police officers last week was plotting a larger assault, authorities said, disclosing how he had taunted negotiators and written on a wall in his own blood before being killed.
Protests against U.S. police tactics continued for a third straight day on Sunday, with scores arrested in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after authorities warned that violence during street demonstrations over the fatal police shootings of two black men last week would not be tolerated.
The Associated Press reported that more than 160 people were arrested during the protests by latest count in recent days in the Louisiana capital.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown told CNN on Sunday that Micah X. Johnson had improvised as he used "shoot-and-move" tactics to gun down officers during a demonstration on Thursday, the deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since Sept. 11, 2001.
Brown said a search of Johnson's home showed the gunman had practiced using explosives, and that other evidence suggested he wanted to use them against law enforcement officers.
"We're convinced that this suspect had other plans," he said. The fatal police shootings of two black men in Minnesota and Louisiana last week led the 25-year-old Texas shooter to "fast-track" his attack, Brown said.
Johnson, a black veteran who served in Afghanistan, took advantage of a spontaneous march that began toward the end of the protest over those killings. Moving ahead of the rally in a black Tahoe SUV, he stopped when he saw a chance to use "high ground" to target police, Brown said.
Johnson was killed by a bomb-equipped robot but Brown said before then he sang, laughed at and taunted officers, and said he wanted to "kill white people" in retribution for police killings of black people. "He seemed very much in control and very determined to hurt other officers," the police chief said.
Brown said police were caught off guard when protesters broke away from Thursday's demonstration, and were thus exposed as they raced to block off intersections ahead of the marchers.
Johnson's military training helped him to shoot and move rapidly, "triangulating" his fire with multiple rounds so that police at first feared there were several shooters. Brown defended the decision to use a robot to kill him, saying that "about a pound of C4" explosive was attached to it. He said Johnson had scrawled the letters "RB" in his own blood on a wall before dying. "We're trying to figure out through looking at things in his home what those initials mean," Brown said.
The U.S. Department of Defense and a lawyer who represented Johnson did not return requests for information on his military history or the status of his discharge.
The mass shooting amplified a turbulent week in the United States, which was again convulsed by the issues of race, gun violence and use of lethal force by police.
Even as officials and activists condemned the shootings and mourned the slain officers, hundreds of people were arrested on Saturday and Sunday as new protests against the use of deadly force by police flared in U.S. cities.
Protesters faced off with police officers wearing gas masks on Sunday evening in Baton Rouge. Media, citing Baton Rouge police, reported that at least 48 people were taken into custody after demonstrators clashed with police following a peaceful march to the state capitol. In St. Paul, Minnesota, 21 officers were injured on Saturday when they were pelted with rocks, bottles, construction materials and fireworks. Three countries have warned their citizens to stay on guard when visiting U.S. cities rocked by the protests.
Speaking in Madrid during a European tour, U.S. President Barack Obama said attacks on police over racial bias would hurt Black Lives Matter, a civil rights movement that emerged from the recent police killings of African-Americans, but has been criticized for vitriolic social media postings against police, some of them sympathetic to Johnson.
"Whenever those of us who are concerned about failures of the criminal justice system attack police, you are doing a disservice to the cause," the United States' first black president told a news conference.
The U.S. has long been witnessing numerous protests and debates surrounding race relations, police brutality, criminal justice and gun control as well as other racially charged attacks and shootings in the country. After the protests that took place in Ferguson, Missouri, over the death of Michael Brown, 18, who was fatally shot by a police officer in August 2014, and later in Baltimore in the wake of peaceful demonstrations over the death of Freddie Gray on April 19, 2015, questions have been raised regarding the existence of systemic injustice and racial discrimination against people of color in the U.S. In Baltimore, violent clashes took place between police and angry crowds on Baltimore's streets after the funeral of Gray, a 25-year-old black man who was fatally injured while in police custody.