In Dallas Memorial, Obama Says: "We're Not As Divided As We Seem"

Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images.
Update: President Obama delivered a message of unity and empathy across opposing lines during his remarks at a memorial service for the families of the police officers killed last Thursday in Dallas.

"I'm here to insist that we're not as divided as we seem. And I know that because I know America. I know how far we've come against impossible odds," he said.

The president recognized the bravery of the slain officers and their families, saying they shared "a commitment to something larger than themselves." He insisted that the overwhelming majority of police officers deserve "our respect and not our scorn."

However, in the wake of last week's events, Obama also asked the nation to stop ignoring the urgent problem of race relations, and also stressed the importance of addressing how the system affects minority communities disproportionally.

Most importantly, he called for unity above all.

“I see people who mourn for the five officers we lost but also weep for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile,” he said.

Adding, "We do not want the unity of grief nor do we want the unity of fear. We want the unity of hope, affection, and high purpose."

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Update: July 8, 11 p.m.:
Two more names of officers killed in the shooting have been released.

Michael Smith was a Dallas police officer for 25 years. Smith was a former Army Ranger who joined who had two daughters, ages 14 and 10, with his wife of 17 years, Heidi. Smith’s pastor described him as a “friend and faithful servant” who “understood the power of love” to The Washington Post.

Former football player Lorne Ahrens was married to a Dallas police detective and had two children, one 10-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy, according to The Washington Post. Ahrens died post-surgery after "something went wrong."
Update 3:50 p.m.: The names of three of the five victims of Thursday night’s mass shooting in Dallas have been released by local authorities. We will continue to update as the other victims' names are released.

Brent Thompson, an officer for the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has been identified as one of the first victims of the shooting on Thursday night. The 43-year old, who was gunned down when shooters ambushed police manning a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest, had married a fellow transit officer just two weeks ago.
Thompson trained police in Iraq and Afghanistan and had worked for a private military contractor, according to his LinkedIn profile. He was interviewed by The New York Times ten years ago, while based in Afghanistan.

Patrick Zamarripa was a dad, a stepdad, and a husband. He was shot dead while on duty in Dallas on Thursday night. The 32-year-old had survived three tours of Iraq, his father told The Washington Post.

His stepbrother, Dylan Martinez, wrote on Twitter: "Everyone say a prayer for my stepbrother, Patrick, and his family. He was one of the young Dallas police officers killed this evening." He added, "Family man and military veteran. Just not right."

Michael Krol was originally from Michigan and had moved to Dallas to become a police officer. The 40-year-old worked in the Wayne County jail system from 2003 to 2007 and was passionate about helping people, his uncle, Jim Elke, told reporters.

He got into law enforcement and worked really hard to be a police officer,” Ehlke said. “He worked pretty hard to find a job and got one in Dallas. He was all in, he was all in," he said.

Update: 2:00 p.m.:
Attorney General Loretta Lynch has called for calm in the wake of the killings, telling America, "The answer must not be violence. The answer is never violence." At a press conference, Lynch said that the Department of Justice was "on the scene" helping with the investigation, but also there "to heal a community."
Update: July 8, 2016, 9:40 a.m.: President Obama condemned Thursday's deadly ambush targeting Dallas police officers as a "vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement," saying the entire country is "horrified" by the shootings.

"There's no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement," the president said from Poland early Friday, according to The Associated Press.

At least five officers were killed and seven more injured when shots broke out at a demonstration calling attention to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, Black men who were killed by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, respectively, this week. Two civilians were also injured in the Dallas attacks.

Three people are in custody in connection to the sniper-style shootings in Dallas, according to The New York Times. A fourth suspect, identified by The Associated Press as 25-year-old Micah Johnson, has reportedly died following a standoff with police. Police officials said Friday morning that they have not ruled out the possibility that additional people were involved in the plot.

The attack is the deadliest incident for law enforcement serving in the United States since Sept. 11, according to NBC News and the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund.
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Update: According to The Dallas Morning News, a fourth suspect held in the El Centro parking lot has killed himself, and special units continue to sweep the city for bombs.

Update:
A fifth officer has died, according to the DPD. Meanwhile, Brent Thompson has been identified as the DART officer who was killed.

The standoff continues near the El Centro parking garage. The college reports that all students and staff have been evacuated from the building.
Update: In an early morning press conference, Dallas police Chief David Brown reported that police have been negotiating and trading fire with a suspect in the El Centro garage for 45 minutes. "The end is coming," the suspect reportedly said, alluding to bombs placed "all over the place."
A female suspect is in custody, as well as two suspects who sped away in a Mercedes. The suspects are being uncooperative. Brown said, "We're leaving every motive on the table."

They also urged caution to citizens returning to the downtown area, saying that, "We don't have a complete comfort level that we have all the suspects," and that it is still an "active crime scene."

The mayor noted that he has been in contact with the White House and the Texas governor's office. Gov. Greg Abbott had been on an out-of-state trip and is returning to the state.

Brown confirmed that three of the officers killed were DPD and one was DART.

The FAA has closed Dallas airspace, only allowing police aircrafts to operate above the city.
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Meanwhile, video posted to Facebook shows the DPD's original person of interest surrendering his weapon to police.
Update: The person of interest sought by the DPD has turned himself in, according to a statement by the police. Another suspect who was involved in a shootout with police is now in custody. A suspicious package was found nearby that is suspect, and it is currently being examined by the bomb squad.
Update: A fourth officer has been killed, according to the Dallas Police Department.

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Update: An additional officer was reported as being shot during a press conference given by Dallas police Chief David Brown and Mayor Mike Rawlings at 11 p.m. local time.

About 800 demonstrators and 100 officers were in the area of the rally when shots rang out at 8:50 p.m. The two shooters took up elevated positions in a parking garage in order to carry out the attack.

The police report that they are in negotiations with one of the shooters, who they have cornered.

The individual below is being sought for questioning. Police ask that anyone with any information call 214-671-3485.

"This is a very emotional time for our department" added Brown. In a statement, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott offered "thoughts and prayers."
Update: In a statement, Dallas police Chief David Brown reports that ten officers were shot and three have died from their injuries.
The statement reads: "Tonight it appears that two snipers shot ten police officers from elevated positions during the protest/rally. Three officers are deceased, two are in surgery and three are in critical condition. An intensive search for suspects is currently underway. No suspects are in custody at this time. We ask that any citizen with information regarding the shootings tonight call 214-671-3482. We will provide more information once it is available. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers tonight."
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This story was originally published on July 8, 2016 at 3:15 a.m.

Two police officers were reportedly shot following a rally in solidarity with the communities affected by the slayings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, NBC's local affiliate reports.

The shooting took place in Dallas, where a crowd of hundreds gathered to march from Belo Garden Park to Old Red Courthouse. The rally ended near Main and Market streets in downtown Dallas. Shots began going off around 9 p.m. local time.

No word has been released yet on the extent of the officers' injuries, the possibility that there could be other victims, or the shooters' identities.

DART, the local public transit, has been closed downtown as police investigate.

Social media users have captured video from the scene that can only be described as terrifying.


More footage from the scene shows the police scrambling.


Crowds ran from the scene as the shooting began. One report said that the shooter was attacking from the roof "like a sniper."

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This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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