Updating as details emerge…
TV News operations flooded the airwaves this morning, hours after a sniper targeting white police officers protecting protesters gunned down five and wounded seven, with coverage of one of the deadliest days for law enforcement in half a century.
Shortly before 8 AM, TV networks said police had identified the dead shooter as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25. Johnson lived with his mother in Mesquite, TX where police have swarmed the neighborhood; neighbors described him as reclusive, news outlets reported, but he had no previous criminal record and was not on the radar of FBI or any other law enforcement organization for possible ties to an extremist group and no prior criminal record. The first they’d heard of Johnson was when he started gunning down police officers, after which he was killed by a robot outfitted with a bomb that ended a long standoff in a garage at El Centro community college in downtown Dallas. During the standoff negotiations, Johnson told officers he was upset about this week’s shooting of two black men, in Louisiana and Minnesota, and wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers, and insisted he acted alone.
Within half an hour of his being identified on air, the Pentagon confirmed Johnson served in the U.S. Army Reserves, which news outlets speculated explains his military-style training that thwarted police for hours Thursday night. He was a veteran who served in Afghanistan, CNN reported around 9 AM PT. Police still are tight-lipped about three people arrested overnight who remain in custody this morning, leading to some confusion in TV news coverage this morning.
(Update: This afternoon, four of his five victims were identified, including Dallas police department’s Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Smith, and Michael Krol, and DART officer Brett Thompson. Zamparripa, 32, a Navy veteran who served three tours in Iraq, leaves behind a wife and 2-year-old daughter. Krol, 40, had been with the Dallas police department since 2007. Smith, 55, the father of two young daughters, was a former Amy Ranger and had been with the Dallas police department for more than 25 years. Thompson, 43, was married two weeks ago; he is the first officer lost in the line of duty in DART’s 27 years.)
The shootings happened toward the end of an otherwise peaceful demonstration in protest of the killing of Alton Sterling in Louisiana on Tuesday, and of Philando Castile in Minnesota on Wednesday, both at the hands of police officers.
Those news operations scrambled to pound out coverage plans today which, at 5:20 AM ET included telecasting President Obama’s statement on the shooting in Dallas from Warsaw, Poland, less than 24 hours after he’d made a statement from Warsaw about the shooting of the two men by police officers. Broadcast networks broke away after their morning news programs aired, though some broke back in to network programing to cover this morning’s address by Attorney General Loretta Lynch:
“After the event of this week, Americans across our country are feeling a sense of helplessness, of uncertainty and fear. These feelings are understandable and they are justified,” she said. “But the answer must not be violence…our answer must be calm, peaceful, collaborative and determined action….We must reflect on the kind of country we want to build, and the kind of soceity we are choosing to pass on to our children.”
The cop killings saw a special appearance by Brian Williams, marking his third time in front of the camera on NBC broadcast network as an anchor since he was suspended as anchor of Nightly News. Overnight, Brian Williams, who has been on MSNBC since September, 2015, picked up coverage at 12:35 AM ET. At 1 AM ET, NBC News broke in with an across-the-board special report anchored by Williams until 1:12 AM ET. After that, through 4 AM ET, NBC News offered the MSNBC rolling coverage as an optional simulcast for local stations.
Williams previously appeared on NBC during the network’s coverage of a threat made against a Los Angeles school in December, 2015, and a special report on immigration following the Supreme Court’s ruling on executive orders by President Obama in June 2016.
Today, NBC News, including MSNBC, will provide ongoing coverage of the deadly shootings in Dallas. Correspondents on the ground and enroute to Dallas are Joe Fryer, Gabe Gutierrez, Chris Hayes, Chris Jansing, Trymaine Lee, Tammy Leitner, Craig Melvin and Jacob Rascon. Lester Holt will anchor an expanded, one-hour edition of Nightly News from Dallas tonight.
Scott Pelley led the network’s coverage on CBS This Morning, along with a team of CBS News correspondents in Texas and around the country. Pelley also will anchor an hour-long edition of CBS Evening News from Dallas this evening. Following CBS This Morning, coverage is continuing throughout the day on CBSN, where CBS News delivered its first word of the breaking news of violence during a protest in Dallas around 10 PM last night with Elaine Quijano at the anchor desk. CBSN remained on the story overnight, incorporating coverage from our correspondents in Dallas, Manuel Bojorguez, Omar Villafranca and others combined with coverage from CBS station KTVT.
ABC’s David Muir will anchor World News Tonight from Dallas tonight, along with ABC News correspondents Matt Gutman, Phillip Mena and Adrienne Bankert.
CNN’s Don Lemon last night covered the shooting from shortly after 10 PM through 2 AM ET. The network’s Dallas-based correspondent Ed Lavandera is covering now, along with Sara Sidner and Kyung Lah.
Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly anchored last night’s coverage, pre-empting Hannity. FNC’s Chief Breaking News Anchor, Shepard Smith took over coverage at 11 PM through 1 AM from the Fox News Deck. Shep was en route to Dallas and will report live from the scene from 2-5PM ET today; he’s also scheduled to cover for the cable news net from Dallas on Saturday 10 AM to noon. Tonight, FNC will present live editions of the primetime line-up, and Dallas-based FNC correspondent Casey Stegall will continue to provide ongoing coverage from the ground along with correspondents William La Jeunesse, Rick Leventhal and Rich Edson.