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Gunman Attacks Dallas Police Headquarters


A gunmen in an armored van attacked police headquarters in Dallas overnight. He fled the scene and has been locked in a standoff with police for several hours. The police chief of Dallas, David Brown, told reporters the suspect is now presumed dead.


CHIEF OF POLICE DAVID BROWN: Our SWAT snipers shot at the suspect through the front windshield of the van striking the suspect.

SIMON: And police are using robots to make certain the van has no explosives. But the situation is subject to rapid change. Jason Whitely at WFAA in Dallas, which is the ABC affiliate there, is covering the story. Thanks for making the time to speak with us.

JASON WHITELY: Sure. Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: And how and why did police wind up firing at the van?

WHITELY: You know, that's a good question. Police followed this van to another smaller suburb, a city on the southeast side of town about 20 miles away. And the van actually came to a stop. SWAT snipers were set up, the police chief said, and actually used those 50-caliber SWAT sniper rifles to shoot the engine block of the vehicle. So that stopped the vehicle. The chief said that the suspect was telling them the van had C-4 explosives on it, so that's why officers didn't immediately approach the vehicle, shot at the van. And soon after shooting the van, the communications - phone calls between the suspect and police ended soon after. They sent a robot in to see if the suspect was incapacitated, and the chief suggested that the suspect was indeed incapacitated, believed to be dead right now.

SIMON: Now, Mr. Whitely, a few hours ago, the police spoke as if there might be several people involved. What does that look like now?

WHITELY: Yeah, Scott, that was a fastened situation the police station - we'll start with - the bottom line answer - only one person involved. But here's why police originally thought there might be up to four people involved. Right across from the police station is a large loft building; it's a seven-story loft area; it's a crowded area. Next door to that is a very popular night spot. It's a hotel with a popular bar on the roof that overlooks the city of Dallas. And then next to that is a concert venue. So there were a lot of eyes on this. There's video of the scene as well, too. So a lot of people saw this happen, and they saw it from different angles. So they were telling police they saw someone, you know, from their angle all the way around, like 180 degrees around this. So police were initially searching for multiple people. Fortunately, it turned out only to be one person involved in this.

SIMON: And what do we know about him?

WHITELY: Well, we believe this individual, though he hasn't yet been identified, is from a city called Paris, Texas. It's about an hour, hour and a half away from Dallas on the east side of Dallas in east Texas. The motive is unclear, but from what we've pieced together, the motive might stem from a child custody situation. The chief said that the suspect has told officers during all of this that law enforcement took away his child. We also understand from sources that Child Protective Services apparently has - in the State of Texas - has a history with this individual as well, though, it's uncertain exactly how many children might be involved, how extensive that history might be. One of the most fascinating things now some 10 hours after all this unfolded in a crowded area around the police station, the main headquarters for Dallas police is now a crime scene. The top commanders aren't on the scene there right now. Everyone is down at city hall about a mile away and - as bomb techs go in to check the police station and also to make sure that they clear it and begin the investigation. The front of the building is shot up. It's a large, glass lobby. There are bullet holes by the front desk and upstairs as well.

SIMON: Jason Whitely in Dallas. Thanks so much.

WHITELY: Sure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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