The Dallas Police Ambush: First Thoughts

July 8, 2016  
Categories: Musings


The Dallas Police Ambush: First Thoughts

Chris Hernandez

Last night two “snipers” opened fire on police at a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Dallas. At last count, eleven officers and one civilian had been shot, five officers killed, at least one in critical condition. Two or more shooters reportedly carried out the attack. As of 0035 local two or three suspects are in custody, and one suspect is barricaded in a building trading fire with officers and claiming to have planted bombs.

It doesn’t appear to be a jihadist attack, or random violence. This was a deliberate attack on police officers, because they were police officers. The officers were at a peaceful protest, probably just BSing and watching the show, when rounds suddenly rained onto them.

The attackers were initially reported to have been in elevated positions, firing down onto police. Around midnight central, a video of one attacker was shown on several news networks. He wasn’t in an elevated position. He apparently drove up to a building near several police officers and cars, got out with an AR-15, took cover behind a column, and opened fire.

Fox showed the unedited video without watching it first. In that video, an officer approached the suspect without seeming to know exactly where he was. The suspect saw the officer first (I think) and opened fire. The suspect and officer had a close-range firefight around a column, and the suspect shot the officer from less than five feet away. After the officer fell, the suspect shot him again before gunfire from other officers forced him to retreat. One witness said the suspect emptied a magazine into the fallen officer.

The attack’s immediate sparks were almost undoubtedly the recent police shootings of black men in St. Paul, Minnesota and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The shooting in St. Paul looks unjustified, and BLM has every right and reason to protest it. The Baton Rouge shooting was almost certainly justified, which of course means BLM will make a saint of the armed, convicted felon sex offender who reportedly threatened a man with a gun and then resisted lawful arrest.

If the shooters really are in custody, they will probably make grand, revolutionary-style proclamations about the need to kill evil, racist police. The fact that the police officers they killed had literally nothing to do with either recent shooting will mean nothing to them. Police agencies nationwide will wisely take extra precautions during BLM protests, but I think (hope?) this was limited to Dallas. I doubt multiple teams of anti-cop extremists are willing to throw their lives away in order to kill a few of us.

Unfortunately, I do think the attackers had significant training and experience. You don’t shoot eleven cops at any distance through blind luck. I wouldn’t be shocked if we learn the shooters are veterans, maybe vets who were kicked out for misconduct.

In the following days, we’ll hear many things on social media:

This is President Obama’s fault for saying police discriminate against black people.

No, President Obama is pro-police and his tendency to immediately take sides before investigation means nothing.

This proves we need gun control.

This has nothing to do with gun control.

This was the media’s fault for publishing stupid, inflammatory anti-cop propaganda like this, which only proves the media knows nothing about lethal force encounters and encourages violence against police.

No, the media isn’t responsible for a criminal’s actions.

This proves the entire BLM movement wants to murder officers.

No, BLM is peaceful and would never advocate violence against an innocent cop.

This was a false flag attack [according to one friend of mine, conspiracy theories are already up and running].

No, it wasn’t. We’ll soon confirm that this was exactly what it looks like, a racially-motivated attack by anti-police extremists.

I’ll collect more information over the next few days and write a full analysis. RIP to the fallen officers, strength and honor to those still in the fight. And please, if you’re a cop, watch your back and watch out for each other.


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breachbangclear.com_site_images_Chris_Hernandez_Author_BreachBangClear4Chris Hernandez Mad Duo Chris (seen here on patrol in Afghanistan) may just be the crustiest member of the eeeee-LITE writin’ team here at Breach-Bang-ClearHe is a veteran of both the Marine Corps and the Army National Guard who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a veteran police officer of two decades who spent a long (and eye-opening) deployment as part of a UN police mission in Kosovo. He is the author of White Flags & Dropped Rifles – the Real Truth About Working With the French Army and The Military Within the Military as well as the modern military fiction novels Line in the Valley, Proof of Our Resolve and Safe From the War. When he isn’t groaning about a change in the weather and snacking on Osteo Bi-Flex he writes on his own blog. You can find his author page here on Tactical 16.

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Chris Hernandez

Chris Hernandez

About the Author

Chris Hernandez may just be the crustiest member of the eeeee-LITE writin' team here at Breach-Bang-Clear. He is a veteran of both the Marine Corps and the Army National Guard who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a veteran police officer of two decades who spent a long (and eye-opening) deployment as part of a UN police mission in Kosovo. He is the author of White Flags & Dropped Rifles - the Real Truth About Working With the French Army and The Military Within the Military as well as the modern military fiction novels Line in the Valley, Proof of Our Resolve and Safe From the War. When he isn't groaning about a change in the weather and snacking on Osteo Bi-Flex he writes on his own blog. You can find his author page here on Tactical 16.


  1. Gary McClure

    The shooting in St. Paul looks unjustified? I didn’t know the cops statement was public yet, ( sarc) If you remember the Mike Brown case his friend said the hands up don’t shoot lie, that we all now know did not happen. How about waiting to hear the cops side before commenting on it. A video taken after the shooting is not evidence of what happened. There is a web site I don’t know enough to trust that says the ” victim” had the gun in his lap, with a still from the video of a rectangular object pointed to. Is it his gun I dont know, lets wait and see what the investigation finds before another cop is Darren Wilsoned.

  2. Wilson

    This whole thing is ridiculous.

    The information that has come out this afternoon indicates that the shooter was in fact a violent asshole and outright racist who’s last words indicated that he wanted to kill white people not just police. He is responsible for his actions last night. No one else is. He picked up the gun and he pulled the trigger. His shuffling off of this mortal coil bothers me not one bit. Fuck him.

    Now, do police make mistakes? Yes. As departments and individuals they most certainly do. To err is human.

    IMHO, and that of many of the police I know, their training is generally inadequate. Whether that training is on the law, hand to hand combat, pistols or whatever. Modern society has gotten used to a reliance on gear rather than skills that are then augmented by that gear.

    Why do I bring that up? Because in my comparatively short life I’ve done a lot of things. Some of them dangerous, some of them a lot of fun and some of them just plain stupid. I’ve seen people get shot right in front of me and I’ve had people die in my arms. What my experience has taught me can be boiled down to two words: Panic kills.

    It might kill you or it might cause you to kill someone else but panic fucking kills in a lot of situations. This, again IMHO, is where things go “bad” with police officers in most cases. They’re not racists. They’re scared fucking shitless. If you want to feel that level of fear go pick a fight with a guy who’s gonna use a knife against you. Trust me, when that blade comes out you basically stop thinking and you just start reacting if you’re untrained you have nothing to base your reactions on and you panic. Panic fucking kills.

    If you’re going to carry gear, you need to know how to use that gear because a confidence deficit with your gear breeds panic and when some of your gear can snuff out a life in the blink of an eye panic may well lead to tragedy. I feel that’s what we saw in Minnesota. Panic doing what it does: killing.

    Best wishes to the families of the slain officers and to those who will have a long road to recovery.

    • Mark D Worthen PsyD

      @Wilson – Thank you. That is one of the most insightful, and well-informed comments I have read about this horrific mass murder of law enforcement officers, and the related tragedies that led to the protest marches.I’m a psychologist, and what you describe lines up neatly with what we know about how people react in terrifying situations. There is all sorts of good science backing up your analysis.And, I’m sure that in *some* of the cases of police shooting unarmed or non-violent black men, stereotypes (unconscious categorizations & assumptions) played a role. There’s tons of research showing how that happens in all sorts of different contexts.But two points from your post jump out at me:1) Behavior, particularly under extreme stress, is almost always multi-determined. Yes, racial stereotypes sometimes play a role, in some cases, to some extent. *And*, as you explained cogently, panic plays a role–probably an even larger role, more often, and with more officers, than racial stereotypes.I think about that video of the black man bleeding out in the car seat as his girlfriend broadcast it all live on Facebook. Did you see the police officer’s face? His demeanor, the tremble/agitation/panic in his voice? It was exactly what you described.Note that I am *not* saying the officer was justified in shooting the guy. I have no idea if it was justified or not. Based on the info presented on media it did not seem like shooting the guy was necessary, but I was not there and I am no expert in proper (or improper) use of force by law enforcement officers. Experts will no doubt investigate and offer conclusions in due course.My main point is simply to reinforce what Wilson wrote. These agonizing events reveal solutions for the prevention in the future, if we are willing to look closely, think deeply, and consider all the factors.2) Training, training, training. Behavioral psychologists have proven over and over again, in some of the most robust scientific findings in *any* field, something that you guys know from experience, and that the military knows from thousands of years of trial and error. The training cycle of “Instruction–demonstration–practice–corrective feedback–and practice, practice, practice”, dramatically improves learning, memory, skill acquisition, and desired behavior now and long into the future.I am not a veteran. I have never worked in law enforcement. I do not own a gun (yet–my son has successfully persuaded me to be smart and protect myself).I read this blog not only for the great writing, but also–since I often work with vets and law enforcement officers as a psychologist–to increase my understanding of what you have and do experience, the challenges you face, the shit you have to put up with. I can’t help someone, or conduct a meaningful psych evaluation if I’m clueless about a man’s life. (Same applies to women, of course.)Mark

  3. Echo

    D.I. , and what have you done to make a difference in this world? And keyboard warrior does not count. Which one of my brothers do you think deserved it, maybe the one that decided to stand by to assist as citizens exercised their first amendment right. Or maybe it was one of them that was seen on camera that as the gun shots rang out was going up to the citizens and getting them out of harm’s way or standing between them and the gunfight. you know the citizens who were just protesting against police but where now sitting behind a vehicle in fear hoping someone with a badge and gun would come to them in their time of need.

    I as an officer will say there are bad cops just like there are bad burger flippers. However, there is no excuse for what happened last night. You sir, can go fuck yourself. Until you can formulate intelligent thoughts or find your nutts, which are probably hidden away in your man bun, STFU.

    • kevreg

      32 years, I’m done 08/31. Keep up the good fight my friend.

  4. D.I.

    “I’m not going to hold my breath for this President to act accordingly though.”

    And what the hell is he supposed to do, exactly? Use his magic “I’m black” powers to control the populace that hates the police and turn them(the public) into pushovers? Or further militarize the police and give the low-IQ hiring practices even more traction so we have what amounts to a prison-gang armed with military hardware to “enforce the law”? I mean, more than we already do.

    I don’t know the officers in question. I don’t think it likely that they deserved to be shot. On the flipside, I look at the sheer number of officers, especially recently, who have shot and killed people who were clearly not a threat to them or the public, and I think “Good for them!” No, not the police. The people willing to kill them. They just need to pick better targets. Indiscriminate violence solves nothing.

    When the very laws of the land are being subverted or ignored to protect violent, moronic, murderous racists just because they have a badge, then there does need to be action taken. – regardless of the color variations between officers and members-of-the-public.

    • Michmike

      Wow DI that was such a confusing series of comments that I had to read it twice! So you don’t think the cops that were shot likely deserved it but you seem to be unsure about that. Soooooo using the same flawed logic that you used could we then say that they people that are shot by police (black, white etc- see black lives are not the only ones that matter) possibly could have deserved it. If you read your comment that is what you are saying. Low IQ for hiring police and what pray tell do you do genius because given your comment I cannot believe you have much of an ability to sort through the facts and make a rational well reasoned out arguments.

      Man U are a pice of work and please know I am laughing at you and mocking you as I find it hard to believe you are bright enough to figure out how to post comments but good for you! Obviously those extra training classes for the mentally challenged have help you! Good for you!

    • Tread head

      You have a lot of serious anger issues to work on. Everything you just said was vague in which side you stand on. If you are a veteran then seek some help because it will bite you in the ass. That one time you mouth off like this to another troop will surely get your ass handed to you.

      Seek help brother.

  5. Chad Richter

    RIP Brothers…

    This is an act of Domestic Terrorism and it should be treated as such.

    I’m not going to hold my breath for this President to act accordingly though.

    • D. Minton

      “I’m not going to hold my breath for this President to act accordingly though.”

      This is what the President had to say:

      “I speak for every single American when I say that we are horrified over these events, and that we stand united with the people and the police department in Dallas … Let’s be clear: There is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement.”

      Seems pretty clear which side he is on.

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