By Global News Staff/Associated Press
A rally in Dallas, Texas turned violent as police responded to a sniper situation in the middle of a protest in the city’s downtown Thursday night.
Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown confirmed the news in a statement, saying three officers were killed, two were in surgery and three others were in critical condition. Police later confirmed a fourth officer died.
He also said the snipers were in elevated positions, and an intensive search is underway for them.
One of the officers killed is a transit police officer, the official Twitter account of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit confirmed saying, “Four DART police officers were shot in downtown Dallas. 1 deceased, others not life-threatening.”
Four DART police officers were shot in downtown Dallas. 1 deceased, others not life-threatening. No IDs yet. Updates via twitter.
— dartmedia (@dartmedia) July 8, 2016
An officer at the scene told WFAA news that the shooter had a rifle. Dan Patrick, the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, tweeted out saying his thoughts were with the wounded officers.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the police officers who were shot in #Dallas tonight. Awaiting further details.
— Dan Patrick (@DanPatrick) July 8, 2016
Video footage shows dozens of police cars on the streets of downtown Dallas immediately after the shots were fired.
The gunfire broke out around 8:45 p.m. Thursday. Live TV video showed protesters marching along a street in downtown, about half a mile from City Hall, when the shots erupted and the crowd scattered, seeking cover. There was no immediate word on whether anyone had been injured.
TV cameras showed the search for the gunman stretched throughout downtown, an area of hotels, restaurants, businesses and some residential apartments. The scene was chaotic, with helicopters hovering overhead and officers with automatic rifles on the street corners.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw officers entering an Omni hotel building on the southwest side of downtown. TV cameras also showed officers carrying shield going into a bank building.
A police dispatcher reached by the AP had no immediate comment. A spokesman for the mayor said he no information he could share. Firefighters and police at the scene were keeping people away; dozens of police cars with their lights lit up were there.
Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Sgt. Lonny Haschel said DPS has “no information at all” about situation. He said the agency has not been asked to assist.
Brittany Peete, a demonstrator, said she didn’t hear the gunshots, but she “saw people rushing back toward me saying there was an active shooter.”
Peete said she saw a woman trip and nearly get trampled as people ran to get to safety.
“Everyone just started running,” Devante Odom, 21, told The Dallas Morning News. “We lost touch with two of our friends just trying to get out of there.”
Carlos Harris, who lives downtown told the newspaper that the shooters “were strategic. It was tap tap pause. Tap tap pause.”
On Wednesday, a Minnesota officer fatally shot Philando Castile while he was in a car with a woman and a child in a St. Paul suburb. The aftermath of the shooting was purportedly livestreamed in a widely shared Facebook video.
A day earlier, Alton Sterling was shot in Louisiana after being pinned to the pavement by two white officers. That, too, was captured on a cellphone video.
*With files from Rebecca Joseph