The Slatest

Lone Dallas Gunman Was Army Vet Bent on Killing White Police Officers

Micah Xavier Johnson in an undated photo from his Facebook account.

Micah X. Johnson via Facebook/via Reuters

A 25-year-old U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan was the one responsible for the deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack. Micah Johnson, who was killed by a robot-delivered bomb, told authorities “he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers,” said Dallas Police Chief David Brown. Johnson had interactions with several “black power” groups and seems to have followed at least one particularly militant group on social media that called for violence against police this past week.

The gunman, who killed five police officers and turned a peaceful demonstration into a scene of bloodshed, told authorities he was angry about the recent killings of black men at the hands of law enforcement. Yet there were also hints that his decision to open fire on law enforcement was hardly a spur-of-the-moment move; authorities found an arsenal at his home in a Dallas suburb, including a cache of weapons and ammunition as well as bomb-making materials and a journal of combat tactics. A source told a local NBC affiliate that Johnson had been laughing and singing during the standoff and told police he had been working out to prepare himself.

Video from the scene of the shootings appear to make it clear that Johnson, who was a private first class in the Army Reserve from March 2009 to April 2015, had extensive tactical training, according to military experts who talked to Reuters. “He is using his rifle in the way that we are trained,” a former Army Special Forces officer said. “He runs directly into fire with the police officer and then flanks him.”

Johnson was sent home six months into his tour of Afghanistan after he was accused of sexually harassing a female soldier. The Army recommended an “other than honorable discharge,” according to the military lawyer who represented him. He ended up getting an honorable discharge for reasons that are far from clear.