Shooters killed five officers at a protest over police violence in downtown Dallas, sending screaming crowds scrambling for shelter and spurring an investigation into who was behind the ambush.
The deadly gunfire erupted in Dallas on Thursday night as videos showing two African-American men shot by police in Louisiana and Minnesota spurred protests and debate over police use of force across the country.
The shootings occurred as many Americans nationwide took to the streets to demand answers over the killings of two black men in two days. They wept, marched and chanted, “Black Lives Matter!”
In St. Paul, Minnesota, crowds gathered near the spot where an officer killed Philando Castile in a car on Wednesday.
“We are targets,” LaRhonda Talley said in an impassioned speech in Minnesota. “We made it across the transatlantic. We made it to freedom and you’re still killing us. You’re still hanging us from trees. You’re still killing us. Our lives matter! My son’s life matters. He matters to me … just like everybody’s son matters to their mama.”
Hundreds of miles away, protesters marched outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where Alton Sterling was fatally shot Tuesday while police tackled him in a parking lot.
Both killings were captured on video and posted online.
In Minnesota, the shooting of Castile was remarkable — and heartbreaking — because his fiancée streamed the immediate aftermath live on Facebook.
As her 4-year-old sat in the back seat, Diamond Reynolds calmly narrated what was going on and showed viewers the dying man groaning and bleeding in the front seat.
Castile, a school food services worker, was shot in Falcon Heights, outside Minneapolis, when a police officer pulled him over because of a broken taillight, said Reynolds, who was in the car with him.
“He let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm,” she said as she broadcast the Wednesday shooting on Facebook.
“Oh God, please don’t tell me my boyfriend is dead,” she said.
Baton Rouge shooting
Sterling, 37, was killed Tuesday near a convenience store in Baton Rouge, where he regularly sold CDs and DVDs.
A homeless man approached Sterling on Tuesday and asked for money, becoming so persistent that Sterling showed him his gun, a source told CNN.
The homeless man called 911, and police arrived at the store. Police tackled Sterling to the ground, and shot him several times, video shows.
A law enforcement source told CNN that the officers pulled a gun from Sterling’s body at the scene. No further details were provided on the type of firearm.
The convenience store quickly became the site of protests. Flowers and signs piled up in a makeshift memorial. Protesters chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot,” the line made famous in the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, about two years ago. Brown was also shot by a police officer.
Most major cities, including Chicago and New York, held protests against police shootings Thursday night.