Dallas police headquarters attacked

Dallas police headquarters attacked
By Norman Merchant (AP)

At least one gunman opened fire on officers outside of police headquarters in Dallas early Saturday, spraying squad cars with bullets before fleeing in a van, which officers followed to a suburban parking lot and surrounded, beginning a standoff, the police chief said.

Witnesses described seeing as many as three other suspects taking part in the attack, but police Chief David Brown said at a news conference that conflicting accounts made it difficult to determine how many people may have been involved. Despite a hail of gunshots, including some that hit police vehicles, nobody was wounded, he said.

According to Brown, the shootout began at around 12:30 a.m., when the suspect or suspects parked in front of the department's headquarters south of downtown and began firing.

At least one assailant later drove off in a dark-colored van, which witnesses described as armored, but not before ramming a police cruiser. The moment was caught on cellphone video shot from a nearby balcony in which several shots can be heard.

Officers trailed the van to a Jack in the Box parking lot in Hutchins, a Dallas suburb, where a SWAT team had it surrounded, Brown said. They had been speaking to a man inside who identified himself as James Boulware and who said he blames police for losing custody of his son and "accusing him of being a terrorist."

The gunman also said he had explosives in the van, which appeared to be outfitted with gun ports in the sides.

Brown said police didn't know if there was anyone else in the van, but that witnesses reported seeing as many as four people taking part in the attack, including some who may have been strategically positioned in elevated positions. He asked anyone who may have witnessed the attack or shot cellphone footage of it to reach out to the authorities to help with the investigation.

Police said they found two explosive devices near the headquarters building and cleared them away. They also evacuated a nearby housing complex as a precaution.

Ladarrick Alexander and his fiancée, Laquita Davis, were driving back toward the police station to their nearby apartment when they heard 15 to 20 gunshots in quick succession.

Seconds later, police could be seen swarming an unmarked van that appeared to have crashed into a police car, they said.

They turned around and were parked outside the police perimeter about two blocks away, where they heard the sound of one detonation at about 4:30 am and smoke coming up in the air.

Police headquarters is in a former warehouse district where a boutique hotel and several new apartment buildings have been opened.

"We don't see too much going around here at all," Alexander said.

By Curtis Skinner (Reuters)

Bombs were planted outside Dallas Police headquarters in an attack early on Saturday that may have involved as many as four gunmen firing automatic weapons, police said.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown told reporters that a motive for the attack was not yet known, but he also said there had been threats and attacks on police elsewhere in the country in the past few months.

One of the devices, a pipe bomb, exploded when a police robot attempted to move it. Another, which was under a police vehicle, was detonated by a bomb squad, according to the police department.

Brown said witnesses reported that up to four suspects were involved in the incident, which began around 12:30 a.m.

No officers have been injured, but one suspect who has spoken with police said he had been hurt, Brown said.

The police chief said police had responded to reports of automatic gunfire from what was described as an armoured van outside police headquarters.

The van then rammed a squad car and gunfire erupted. The van drove off as police returned fire and officers gave chase, Brown said. Witnesses told police that one suspect may have failed to enter the van before it sped off, according to Brown.

The van stopped in a fast food restaurant parking lot in the city of Hutchins, some 10 miles (16 km) south of Dallas, where there was another exchange of gunfire.

Police said they surrounded the van and managed to disable it with a high-powered rifle.

Brown said police negotiators had spoken with someone inside the van, who identified himself as James Boulware.

The police chief said they had not yet been able to confirm the identity of the man, but said that police had responded previously to three incidents of domestic violence involving a man with that name.

Brown told reporters at the early morning news conference that the suspect had said that police had taken his child and had accused him of being a terrorist. The police chief said that the man then threatened to "blow us up."

Several bags were found scattered around police headquarters, two of which had explosives inside, police said. Another suspicious package was found in a dumpster near a different police station in the city, according to police.
Nearby residents were evacuated, Brown said.

A video of the shooting on social media showed a police officer approaching a black van with a flashlight as two other police cruisers pulled up behind the vehicle. The officer abruptly turned and ran away and then a volley of gunshots could be heard.

In another video, the van could be seen ramming a police cruiser before gunfire rang out again and the vehicle drove off.

The Dallas Morning News reported that police in the city of Paris, some 100 miles (160 km) northeast of Dallas, had arrested a James Boulware in 2013 after he had obtained firearms, ammunition and body armor and threatened to attack his family, schools, and churches.

Reuters could not confirm that the two incidents involved the same individual.

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