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11 officers shot, 4 killed by snipers during Dallas Black Lives Matter rally (w/video)

A Dallas Area Rapid Transit police officer receives comfort at the Baylor University Hospital emergency room entrance Thursday in Dallas. Gunfire erupted during a protest in downtown Dallas over recent fatal shootings by police in Louisiana and Minnesota. [Ting Shen | Dallas Morning News via AP]
Published Jul. 8, 2016

DALLAS — Two snipers apparently shot 11 police officers during protests in Dallas on Thursday night and four officers are dead, the city's police chief said in a statement.

A statement from Dallas police Chief David Brown released by a city spokeswoman said, "It appears that two snipers shot 10 police officers from elevated positions during the protest/rally."

At a news conference early today, Brown said three people were in custody and a fourth person was still exchanging gunfire with officers.

Authorities were negotiating with the suspect in a downtown parking garage who has been exchanging gunfire with officials, Brown said. The chief said the suspect was not cooperating and had told negotiators he intends to hurt more law enforcement officials.

The gunfire began about 8:45 p.m. CST Thursday while hundreds of people were gathered to protest fatal police shootings this week in Baton Rouge, La., and suburban St. Paul, Minn.

The chief's statement said two officers were in surgery and three were in critical condition.

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.

Scores of police and security officers were on hand. Police and others crouched behind cars outside a parking garage. Officers with guns drawn were running near and into the parking garage as police searched for the shooter.

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.

"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."

Renee Sifflet of Dallas stood at the corner of Commerce and Houston, waiting for the chaos to die down so she could retrieve her three teenage kids, who were in hiding.

"I brought them here for a positive experience, something they could say they were part of when they're older," she said. "Then it turned negative."

When they started running, she said, she actually lost track of her 15-year-old son for two frightening minutes in the mayhem. "Thank God he has a cellphone," she said.

A person named Michael Kevin Bautista was streaming video live on his Facebook page at the time the shooting began. Warning: Graphic content.

Carlos Harris, who lives downtown, said the shooters "were strategic. It was tap tap pause. Tap tap pause."

Harris, who said he was in the military, said he heard someone fire back with an AR-15.

Before the shots were fired, the demonstrators were peacefully walking down Main Street.

"The cops were peaceful," he said. "They were taking pictures with us and everything."

The Dallas Area Rapid Transit has suspended all bus and rail service in downtown.

WFAA-TV reported that officers are holding AR-15s walking through downtown.

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.

RELATED COVERAGE: Aftermath of fatal police shooting in Minnesota livestreamed on Facebook

Late Thursday, authorities identified the two police officers involved in the Castile shooting.

The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension named them as Officer Jeronimo Yanez and Officer Joseph Kauser. It said both been with the St. Anthony Police Department for four years.

The BCA statement said Yanez approached Philando Castile's car from the driver's side during the stop in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights on Wednesday night, and Kauser from the passenger side. It says Yanez opened fire, striking Castile multiple times.

No one else was injured.

Thomas Kelly, an attorney representing Yanez, did not immediately return a call seeking comment after the officers were identified. Kelly declined to comment on the case earlier Thursday.

The BCA said its investigation is ongoing, including interviews with witnesses. Several videos, including squad car video of the incident, have been collected. St. Anthony officers don't wear body cameras.

The statement does not give the officers' races.

Meanwhile, an autopsy confirmed that Castile died of multiple gunshot wounds and listed the manner of death as homicide.

The initial report from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office said Castile died at 9:17 p.m. Wednesday in the emergency room at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.

But the report did not say how many times Castile was hit or give details about the wounds he suffered in the incident in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights.

A day before Castile was killed, Alton Sterling was shot in Louisiana after being pinned to the pavement by two white officers. That, too, was captured on a cellphone video.

RELATED COVERAGE: Outrage after video captures white Baton Rouge police officer fatally shooting a black man

The gunshots in Dallas came amid protests nationwide over the recent police shootings.

In midtown Manhattan, protesters first gathered in Union Square Park where they chanted "The people united, never be divided!" and "What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now!"

A group of protesters then left the park and began marching up Fifth Avenue blocking traffic during the height of rush hour as police scrambled to keep up. Another group headed through Herald Square and Times Square where several arrests were reported.

Michael Houston, a 20-year-old Brooklyn student, said anger and lack of action brought him to the protest.

"It's the definition of insanity," Houston said. "How can we expect anything to be different when nothing changes."

Lawrence Amsterdam, 35, another student from Brooklyn, decried what he called the police injustice.

"It's supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. But the way I see it, it's murder first and ask questions later," Amsterdam said.

Information from the Dallas Morning News and the Associated Press was included in this report.

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