Texas crews search for survivors in wake of Harvey’s floods

A Marine Corp vehicle patrols a flooded street as a result of Tropical Storm Harvey in Port Arthur, Texas, U.S., August 31, 2017.

By Emily Flitter and Andy Sullivan

PORT ARTHUR, Texas/HOUSTON (Reuters) – A week after Hurricane Harvey came ashore in Texas, rescuers kept up a marathon search for survivors on Friday as large pockets of land remained under water after one of the costliest natural disasters to hit the United States.

The storm has displaced more than 1 million people with 44 feared dead from flooding that paralyzed Houston, swelled river levels to record highs and knocked out the drinking water supply in Beaumont, Texas, a city of about 120,000 people.

Chemicals maker Arkema SA and public health officials warned of the risk of more explosions and fires at a plant owned by the company. On Thursday blasts rocked the facility, about 25 miles east of Houston and zoned off inside a 1.5-mile (2.4-km) exclusion zone, after it was engulfed by floodwater.

With the presence of water-borne contaminants a growing concern, the National Weather Service issued flood watches from Arkansas into Ohio on Friday as the remnants of the storm made their way through the U.S. heartland.

The Neches River, which flows into Beaumont and nearby Port Arthur, was forecast for a record crest from Friday well above flood levels. The flooding and loss of drinking water forced the evacuation of a hospital on Thursday.

Two of the last people remaining in their flooded home near the river, Kent Kirk, 58, and Hersey Kirk, 59, were pulled to safety late Thursday.

“They were the last holdouts, the last house,” said Dennis Landy, a neighbor who had spent the day in his airboat ferrying people from a small, remote group of houses near Rose City, Texas, close to the Neches’ banks, to safety.

It took an hour of coaxing by a rescuer but Hersey Kirk finally let herself be carried from her wheelchair to the airboat and then to a Utah Air National Guard helicopter.

“I’m losing everything again,” she said. “We got flooded in Ike, in Rita. My husband just got a new car – well it was new to him anyway. It’s sitting in 5 feet of water.”

Harvey roared ashore late last Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in half a century. It dumped unprecedented quantities of rain and left devastation across more than 300 miles (482 km) in the southeast corner of the state.



Moody’s Analytics estimated the economic cost from Harvey for southeastern Texas at $51 billion to $75 billion, ranking it among the costliest storms in U.S. history. Much of the damage has been to Houston, the U.S. energy hub.

At least 44 people were dead or feared dead in six counties including and around Houston, officials said. Another 19 remained missing.

Some 779,000 Texans have been told to leave their homes and another 980,000 fled voluntarily amid dangers of new flooding from swollen rivers and reservoirs, according to federal estimates.

Tens of thousands crowded in evacuation centers across the region.

Evacuees affected by Tropical Storm Harvey take shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston, Texas, U.S.  August 31, 2017

Evacuees affected by Tropical Storm Harvey take shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston, Texas, U.S. August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

A new hurricane, Irma, had strengthened into a Category 3 storm, the midpoint of the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, on Friday. It remained hundreds of miles from land but was forecast to possibly hit the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and neighboring Haiti by the middle of next week.

Seventy percent of Harris County, which encompasses Houston and has a population of about 4.6 million people, was covered with 18 inches (45 cm) or more of water, county officials said.

As signs of normal life returned to Houston, the nation’s fourth most populous city, there were concerns about health risks from bacteria and pollutants in floodwater.

The Houston Astros baseball team, forced to play away from the city due to the floods, will return and play at its home field on Saturday. It has invited shelter residents to attend its double header against the New York Mets, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said on his Twitter feed.

Flooding has shut some of the nation’s largest oil refineries and hit U.S. energy infrastructure, which is centered along the Gulf Coast. It has sent gasoline prices climbing and disrupted global fuel supplies. [O/R]

The national average for a regular gallon of gasoline rose to $2.519 as of Friday morning, the highest since August 2015, up 17 cents since before the storm hit, according to motorists advocacy group AAA.

The storm knocked out about a quarter of U.S. oil refining capacity and the signs of restarts were tentative.

In major Texas cities including Dallas, there were long lines at gas stations, prompting state regulators to tell people they were sparking a panic and saying there were ample fuel supplies.

Power outages had decreased from peaks of over 300,000 to about 160,000 homes and business in Texas and Louisiana as of Friday morning, data from utilities showed.


(Additional reporting by Richard Valdmanis, Marianna Parraga, Ernest Scheyder, Ruthy Munoz, Peter Henderson and Andy Sullivan in Houston, David Gaffen in New York, Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Scott Malone Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Trott)


Two dead, including suspect in Dallas-area college shooting -police

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – A gunman on Wednesday shot and killed a woman on a college campus in the Dallas area, before committing suicide, police said, two days after a deadly stabbing at another college in Texas.

Adrian Victor Torres, 21, shot and killed Janeera Nickol Gonzalez, 20, in a common study area at North Lake College in Irving, before taking his own life in a locker room shower in a nearby building, the Irving Police Department said.

“It is unclear at this time if there was a prior connection between the victim and suspect,” it said in a statement.

Local news showed video footage of students running out of school buildings, located about 10 miles (16 km) west of downtown Dallas, at about 11:30 a.m., as police swarmed the campus.

Gonzalez’s mother Lucia told an ABC affiliate that Torres “had been stalking her for quite a while but she didn’t make anything of it.”

The family told the WFAA that the two never dated and were not friends. Gonzalez was studying kinesiology and planned to graduate in a few weeks.

“There is no justice for my daughter,” Gonzalez said.

College officials announced the school would be closed for the rest of the week.

On Monday, a man enrolled at the University of Texas went on a stabbing spree with a large hunting knife at the school’s Austin campus about 200 miles (320 km) south of Irving, killing one student and wounding three, police said.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; , Additional reporting and writing by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Clarence Fernandez)

Computer hack sets off 156 emergency sirens across Dallas

A padlock is displayed at the Alert Logic booth during the 2016 Black Hat cyber-security conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.

By Ian Simpson

(Reuters) – A computer hack set off all the emergency sirens in Dallas for about 90 minutes overnight in one of the largest known breaches of a siren warning system, officials in the Texas city said on Saturday.

Dallas’ 156 sirens, normally used to warn of tornadoes and other dangerous weather, were triggered at 11:42 p.m. CDT on Friday. The wailing did not end until 1:17 a.m. CDT on Saturday when engineers manually shut down the sirens’ radio system and repeaters, city Emergency Management Director Rocky Vaz said.

“At this point, we can tell you with a good deal of confidence that this was somebody outside of our system that got in there and activated our sirens,” he told reporters.

The breach in the city of 1.6 million people was believed to have originated in the area, city spokeswoman Sana Syed said in an emailed statement.

Vaz cited industry experts as saying the hack was among the largest ever to affect emergency sirens, with most breaches triggering one or two. “This is a very, very rare event,” he said.

Engineers are working to restart the system and should have it restored by late on Sunday, he said. Until the sirens are running, Dallas will rely on local media, emergency 911 phone calls, and a federal radio alert system, Vaz said.

The hack is being investigated by system engineers and the Federal Communications Commission has been contacted, but police have not been involved, he said.

The sirens went through 15 cycles of a 90-second activation before they were shut down, he said.

The wailing sirens triggered a firestorm of speculation and reaction on Twitter, with Garrett S. Bacak at @theinsidiousone tweeting, “Go home dallas, you’re drunk.”

Glynn Wilcox wrote on @glynnwilcox, “At this point I’m never trusting a #siren again.”

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Richard Chang)

U.S. law enforcement line-of-duty deaths hit five-year high in 2016

A Dallas police sergeant wears a mourning band and flower on his badge during a prayer vigil, one day after a lone gunman ambushed and killed five police officers at a protest decrying police shootings of black men, in Dallas, Texas, U.S.,

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Law enforcement fatalities hit a five-year high in 2016 with 135 officers killed in the line of duty, including eight killed in ambush attacks in Dallas and Louisiana in July that raised nationwide concerns, a study released on Thursday said.

So far this year, 21 officers were killed in ambush-style attacks, the highest figure in two decades, according to the study from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which tracks data on the incidents.

This included five police officers gunned down in Dallas in July by a deranged U.S. Army Reserve veteran, 25-year-old Micah X. Johnson, who said he aimed to avenge the shootings of black men by police nationwide.

A woman lights a candle at a makeshift memorial at Dallas Police Headquarters,

File Photo: A woman lights a candle at a makeshift memorial at Dallas Police Headquarters, one day after a lone gunman ambushed and killed five police officers at a protest decrying police shootings of black men, in Dallas, Texas, U.S., July 8, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

“Public safety is a partnership and, too often, the service and sacrifice of our law enforcement professionals is taken for granted,” said Craig Floyd, president of the fund.

Firearms-related incidents were the number one cause of death, with 64 officers fatally shot, the survey said. Traffic-related incidents accounted for 53 deaths.

Among the officers killed were local and state police officers, federal border agents and corrections officers. The study did not break out the number of police officers killed.

The average age of the officers who died on duty this year was 40 and the average length of service was 13 years. Texas had the most fatalities, at 17, followed by California with 10 and Louisiana with 9, including three who were killed in July in Baton Rouge, the survey said.

A black Iraq war veteran fatally shot the three police officers and wounded three others in Baton Rouge in an ambush.

The Dallas and Baton Rouge attacks, less than two weeks apart, followed fatal shootings by police officers of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana.

There were protests nationwide this year over the killings by police of unarmed black men, incidents that raised questions of racial bias in U.S. policing.

The number of officers who died in the line of duty in 2016 was up 10 percent from the previous year of 123, the survey said.

“As we begin the new year, let us all resolve to respect, honor, and remember those who have served us so well and sacrificed so much in the name of public safety,” Floyd said.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Leslie Adler)

In Dallas, police bear the burden of stark inequities

A house in a south Dallas neighborhood sits in an economically distressed neighborhood that the Mayor’s Office looks to improve in Dallas

By Jon Herskovitz

DALLAS, August 15 (Reuters) – Antoinette Brown begged, in her final words, “somebody help me.” Then she was mauled to death by a pack of wild dogs.

The 52-year-old homeless woman perished in the impoverished Dallas neighborhood of Fair Park, not far from gleaming downtown skyscrapers and some of America’s wealthiest neighborhoods. The gruesome attack in May served as a grim reminder of stark inequities, even as the region’s economy and population booms.

The stray dog problem is just one of many facing the poorest neighborhoods of Dallas, which was labeled the “City of Hate” after the assassination of U.S. president John F. Kennedy here in 1963 and has since struggled through decades of urban blight.

Today, the mayor and others tout a host of police reforms and social programs, but they acknowledge the overwhelming challenge in bridging a racial and economic chasm with roots in the city’s segregated past. Economic inequality in Dallas, among the most severe in the U.S., has long underpinned friction between police and low-income residents here – tensions that have come into focus nationally in protests over excessive use of force.

At once such protest last month, the shooting of a dozen police officers, five of them fatally, brought a softer national spotlight on Dallas. The officers were killed by a deranged U.S. Army Reserve veteran, 25-year-old Micah X. Johnson, who said he aimed to avenge the shootings of black men by police nationwide.

The Dallas department won praise for its handling of the protest, before and after the bloodshed, as well as a training effort credited with a drastic reduction in officer-involved shootings – to one so far this year, down from 23 in 2012. The city’s Democratic mayor, Mike Rawlings, drew attention to reforms including a plan, dubbed GrowSouth, to expand educational, employment and social opportunities in eight communities, mostly south of downtown, but including Fair Park to the east.

The goals include building low-cost housing and pushing for hotels, shops and office buildings to move into lower-income areas. There have been successes and disappointments, Rawlings told Reuters in an interview.

“I am not going to bring world peace,” the mayor said. “I am trying to establish objectives that can be achieved in a relatively short amount of time.”


The impact can be hard to see on some streets in Fair Park. Retired nurse Jametter Daniels, 65, lives about 100 yards from the abandoned house where Antoinette Brown died. Police often see the black and Latino residents of her neighborhood more as problems than people, she said, and tensions run high.

“They are just as afraid of us as we are on them,” she said from her home, with bars on the doors. “When the sun goes down, I am locked up and armed up.”

The weight of poverty, racial strife and mental illness too often lands on the weary shoulders of rank-and-file police officers, said Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and a former police officer and prosecutor.

“What police have been forced to do in this country is perform triage,” he said.

In Dallas, that includes corralling potentially dangerous dogs, among other duties that extend well beyond routine crime, Dallas Police Chief David Brown told reporters last month.

“We have got a loose dog problem – let’s have the cops chase loose dogs,” he said. “Schools fail? Give it to the cops.”

Police Detective Chelsea Whitaker gets a close-up view of such failures daily.

“We can be glorified social workers,” she said.

She recalled interactions with two teenagers who constantly got into fights at school. One of them had not been eating. Whitaker took her to grocery store to buy food.

“I had to take another girl to get sanitary napkins because nobody ever taught her that,” Whitaker said of the 13-year-old. “She is angry and fighting all the time; of course, you would be angry.”


In his office overlooking downtown, Rawlings – a former Pizza Hut CEO who produced record sales – takes a corporate approach to documenting and fixing societal problems.

He has charts showing improvements in areas such as housing – where the property value of South Dallas has increased by about $1.5 billion since he took office in 2011 – and weaknesses in others, such as high unemployment rates in many neighborhoods.

Of urban areas with more than 250,000 residents, Dallas has the widest economic gap between its richest and the poorest neighborhoods, followed by Philadelphia, Baltimore, Columbus, Ohio and Houston, according to a 2015 study by the Urban Institute, a Washington D.C.-based economic social policy research organization.

South Dallas makes up about 60 percent of the city’s area and 45 percent of Dallas County’s population — yet accounts for just 15 percent of the city’s property tax base, according to the mayor’s office.

Those numbers can be read in two ways. Rawlings prefers to see the upside.

“Southern Dallas is an investment opportunity and not a charity case,” he said.


Repairing the economy of South Dallas may be beyond the ability of one well-meaning mayor, said Brianna Brown, Dallas County director for the Texas Organizing Project, a nonprofit advocating for low-income communities.

“There has been effort made that is different from other administrations,” she said. “Whether that materializes into something that is really tackling the problem – in a systemic way, with a policy solution – is a whole other question.”

Under Rawlings, the city has sought to equalize infrastructure spending – potholes, streetlights, public transportation – among rich and poor neighborhoods. The administration has also pleaded with private employers to move into poorer areas, and set up a private investment fund called Impact Dallas Capital that seeks to raise $100 million to spur investments.

Some current city efforts in low-income neighborhoods – such as regulating payday lenders and luring stores offering fresh, affordable food – are well-intentioned but difficult to execute, Brianna Brown said. The depth of the problems, she said, demand bolder reforms to the city’s education system and its economy.

“There should be jobs with real dignity,” she said.

In Fair Park, where Antoinette Brown died of dog bites, leafy parks sit next to garbage-strewn lots and unpaved roads. Keena Davis, 32, said going to an affluent neighborhood nearby, Highland Park, felt like a different world.

He wants his 12-year-old son to make the jump.

“There’s a ceiling on how high he can go, and I want him to break it,” she said. “He doesn’t deserve this neighborhood.”

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Marice Richter in Dallas; Editing by Brian Thevenot)

New York City police upgrade gear after Texas, Louisiana shootings

Crime scene of Dallas shooting

By Gina Cherelus

(Reuters) – The New York City Police Department has acquired $7 million in military-style protective equipment for patrol officers in response to recent shooting attacks on police in Baton Rouge and Dallas earlier this month, officials said on Monday.

“You name it, we’re buying it,” Police Commissioner William Bratton told a news conference. “There’s not a police department in America that is spending as much money, as much thought and interest on this issue of officer safety.”

Bratton said the NYPD has purchased 20,000 military-style helmets, 6,000 heavy duty bullet-proof vests, trauma kits and ballistic doors and windows for patrol cars.

He said the new bullet-proof vests are capable of stopping rounds fired from the type of weapon used in the Baton Rouge shooting that killed three officers and the Dallas shooting that left five officers dead and seven wounded.

“Obviously all over the country people have been deeply trouble by the attack on our officers,” added Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We made this decision quickly in light of the challenges we face.”

Special units are already equipped with protective gear like the upgraded equipment. Because patrol officers are likely to respond to active shooting situations, they will begin carrying the new equipment starting in September, according to police officials.

In recent weeks, major police departments across the country have been implementing new patrol tactics for officers in the wake of racial tension plaguing various cities.

Nearly half of the police departments in the 30 biggest U.S. cities issued directives after the Dallas attack requiring patrol officers to pair up while on duty.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Bikers ride through Baton Rouge in support of fallen police

Several hundred bikers gathered in Baton Rouge on Tuesday and rode in a procession to the city’s police headquarters in a show of support for the policemen shot and killed by a gunman at the weekend.

The bikers, many carrying U.S. flags and revving their engines, rode past the gas station where the policemen where killed en route to the police station.

Spectators gathered on the side of the streets to cheers them on. One woman carried a banner reading ‘cops lives matter.’

President Barack Obama has told law enforcement officials that Americans recognize, respect and depend upon the difficult and dangerous work they do, a rallying call of support following the ambush killings of eight officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

Three police officers were gunned down in Louisiana’s state capital on Sunday by a U.S. Marine Corps veteran with ties to an African-American anti-government group, authorities said. On July 7, another former U.S. serviceman espousing militant black nationalist views killed five Dallas officers.

Authorities identified the Baton Rouge gunman as former Sergeant Gavin Long of Kansas City, Missouri, an Iraq war veteran, and said he seemed determined to slay as many police officers as possible before a SWAT team marksman cut short his attack.

The single gunshot that killed Long, 29, was fired by an officer from about 100 yards away, police have said as they deepened their investigation into the second racially charged armed assault on U.S. law enforcement this month.

Protests, U.S. gun violence worry some black travelers from abroad

Police scuffle with demonstrator

By Gina Cherelus

NEW YORK (Reuters) – With protests hitting many U.S. cities, the deadly ambush of Dallas police, and the ever-present threat of gun violence, four countries have urged citizens to be on alert if visiting the United States, and some black travelers are worried about making the trip.

Some African community groups in the United States and elsewhere told Reuters that family members of those already in America were scared by recent events, and some had been warned by relatives to reconsider any trip.

“When we talk to them in the community, some of the things that they say are, ‘there are so many crazy things happening in your country that if I can avoid coming I won’t come,'” said Ibrahima Sow, president of the Association of Senegalese in America.

The Bahamas, Bahrain, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates have warned citizens to be on guard if visiting U.S. cities rocked by sometimes violent protests that erupted over the last week following the fatal shootings of two black American men by police.

In stark terms, the Bahamas told young men especially to exercise “extreme caution” when interacting with police. “Do not be confrontational and cooperate,” it said.

Sow said concerns about travel to the United States have been high since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. His group gives specific guidance to Senegalese travelers about how to behave with the police.

“We say there are things that you need to know if you are stopped by the police,” Sow said. “We tell people to be cautious and when you get stopped in the streets by police don’t move your hands, don’t move your body, don’t do anything.”


Some similar organizations in Europe said they also had longstanding advice that they give to members who are thinking about visiting the United States.

“I would feel less safe there than four or five years ago,” said Louis-Georges Tin, president of France’s Council of Black Associations, which gathers about 100 organizations in France to fight against racism and promote French ties with Africa.

That sentiment was echoed by others including Paul Rose of britishafrocaribbean.com, a website and think tank for the British Afro Caribbean community. He said social media such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter had raised awareness of what he called “atrocities” by U.S. police.

“You don’t want to find yourself in situations where you are confronted with the police,” Rose said. “Look at the incarceration rates of black men in America, look at the effects of the economic downturn, which affect the black community far more. The stats are just awful.”

Some people already living in the United States said the turbulence is sometimes too much for their visiting relatives, even if the perception is worse than the reality.

“I have a cousin who is here right now and she’s even scared to go outside to 34th street,” said Zainab Bunduka, a 55-year-old employee at New York City’s North Shore Hospital. She is originally from the West African country of Sierra Leone, which was ravaged by civil war during the 1990s.

“She’s scared because we don’t have all these gunshots back home,” said Bunduka.

(Additional reporting by Karin Strohecker in London and Chine Labbe in Paris; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Frances Kerry)

San Francisco police search blacks, Hispanics more than whites: panel

Police standing on Lombard Street

By Curtis Skinner

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Three former judges examining accusations of racial bias by police in San Francisco said in a report released on Monday that black and Hispanic people were more likely to be searched without their consent by officers than whites and Asians.

The panel released its report as the United States reeled over the slayings of five police officers in Dallas who were on duty at a protest over the slayings of black men in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis.

“The panel found indications of institutionalized bias and institutional weaknesses in the department,” Anand Subramanian, executive director of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Transparency, Accountability, and Fairness in Law Enforcement, said at a news conference.

The panel, consisting of retired state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, retired Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell and retired federal Judge Dickran M. Tevrizian, was convened by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón in March 2015 after racist text messages sent and received by San Francisco officers were made public.

San Francisco Police said in a statement after the report was released that they appreciated the panel’s efforts and would review the findings before turning over their analysis to Justice Department.

The panel said in a 240-page report that blacks and Hispanics were more likely to be searched after traffic stops than whites or Asians yet less likely to be carrying contraband.

According to the report, of all non-consensual searches after traffic stops, 42 percent in 2015 involved black motorists. The U.S. Census showed that in 2015, blacks made up less than 6 percent of the city’s population of 865,000.

Hispanics, who made up about 15 percent of San Franciscans in 2015, accounted for 19 percent of non-consensual searches, while whites accounted for half the population, but 21 percent of non-consensual searches, the report said.

Asians made up more than a third of the population, but were searched without their consent fewer than 10 percent of the time, according to the report.

The report recommended that San Francisco’s police department should improve its training on implicit bias, procedural justice and racial profiling, and called for stronger oversight.

The San Francisco Police Officer’s Association called the report misleading and divisive.

“We’re sitting on a tinderbox and Gascón is lighting a match,” association president Martin Halloran said in a statement.

San Francisco’s police department has been roiled by protests since December after the videotaped fatal police shooting of a black man.

The death of Mario Woods, 26, prompted a U.S. Department of Justice review of the police department.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Sharon Bernstein)

Dallas police chief says armed civilians in Texas ‘increasingly challenging’

Baton Rouge Protest

By Ernest Scheyder

DALLAS (Reuters) – The Dallas police chief stepped into America’s fierce gun rights debate on Monday when he said Texas state laws allowing civilians to carry firearms openly, as some did during a protest where five officers were killed, presented a growing law enforcement challenge.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown also gave new details about his department’s use of a bomb-carrying robot to kill Micah Johnson, the 25-year-old former U.S. Army reservist who carried out last Thursday’s sniper attack that also wounded nine officers.

A shooting in Michigan on Monday underscored the prevalence of gun violence in America and the danger faced by law enforcement, even as activists protest against the fatal police shootings of two black men last week in Louisiana and Minnesota.

Two sheriff’s bailiffs were shot to death at a courthouse in St. Joseph in southwestern Michigan, and the shooter was also killed, Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey told reporters.

By Monday evening, protesters were marching again in several large American cities, including Chicago, Sacramento, and Atlanta, where news footage showed a number of protesters being arrested after street demonstrations north of downtown.

President Barack Obama and others reiterated their calls for stricter guns laws after last month’s massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, but many conservatives responded that such measures could infringe on the U.S. Constitution’s protection of the right to bear arms.

Texas is known for its gun culture and state laws allow gun owners to carry their weapons in public. Some gun rights activists bring firearms to rallies as a political statement, as some did at Thursday’s march in Dallas.

“It is increasingly challenging when people have AR-15s (a type of rifle) slung over, and shootings occur in a crowd. And they begin running, and we don’t know if they are a shooter or not,” Brown said. “We don’t know who the ‘good guy’ versus who the ‘bad guy’ is, if everybody starts shooting.”

Seeing multiple people carrying rifles led police initially to believe they were under attack by multiple shooters.

Brown did not explicitly call for gun control laws, but said: “I was asked, well, what’s your opinion about guns? Well, ask the policymakers to do something and I’ll give you an opinion.”

“Do your job. We’re doing ours. We’re putting our lives on the line. Other aspects of government need to step up and help us,” he said.


Rick Briscoe, legislative director of gun rights group Open Carry Texas, said Brown was “simply mistaken” in viewing armed civilians as a problem.

“It is really simple to tell a good guy from a bad guy,” Briscoe said. “If the police officer comes on the situation and he says: ‘Police, put the gun down,’ the good guy does. The bad guy probably continues doing what he was doing, or turns on the police officer.”

Police used a Northrop Grumman Corp <NOC.N> Mark5A-1 robot, typically deployed to inspect potential bombs, to kill Johnson after concluding during an hours-long standoff there was no safe way of taking him into custody, Brown said.

“They improvised this whole idea in about 15, 20 minutes,” Brown said.

“I asked the question of how much (explosives) we were using, and I said … ‘Don’t bring the building down.’ But that was the extent of my guidance.”

The incident is believed to have been the first time U.S. police had killed a suspect that way, and some civil liberties activists said it created a troubling precedent. Brown said that, in the context of Thursday’s events, “this wasn’t an ethical dilemma for me.”

The attack came at the end of a demonstration decrying police shootings of two black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and near St. Paul, Minnesota. Those were the latest in a series of high-profile killings of black men by police in various U.S. cities that have triggered protests.

In the shooting near St. Paul, the Star Tribune newspaper reported that the officers had pulled over 32-year-old Philando Castile because one of the patrolmen thought he and his girlfriend matched the description of suspects involved in a robbery.

In Dallas, a vigil was held for the slain officers on Monday evening.

In Chicago, images and footage on social media and news stations showed about 500 protesters marching through downtown after holding a quiet sit-in in Millennium Park that spilled into the streets and a rally near City Hall.

In Atlanta, media footage showed a number of handcuffed protesters being loaded onto a police bus surrounded by armed officers and emergency vehicles with lights flashing. Television station WSB-TV reported that police started arresting demonstrators marching on Peachtree Road at about 8:30 p.m.

In Sacramento, about 300 people were marching peacefully on Monday evening. Earlier in the day, in an incident not linked to protests, Sacramento police said officers fatally shot a man carrying a knife after he charged at police.

Johnson was in the U.S. Army Reserve from 2009 to 2015 and served for a time in Afghanistan. He had been disappointed in his experience in the military, his mother told TheBlaze.com in an interview shown online on Monday.

“The military was not what Micah thought it would be,” Delphine Johnson said. “He was very disappointed. Very disappointed.”

The Dallas police chief, who is black, urged people upset about police conduct to consider joining his force.

“Get off that protest line and put an application in, and we’ll put you in your neighborhood, and we will help you resolve some of the problems you’re protesting about,” Brown said.

(Additonal reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, Fiona Ortiz and Justin Madden in Chicago, Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles, and David Beasley in Atlanta; Writing by Daniel Wallis, Scott Malone and Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Will Dunham, Peter Cooney and Paul Tait)