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Obama Slams 'Vicious, Calculated, Despicable Attack on Law Enforcement'

President Obama listens at a NATO summit press conference in Warsaw, Poland, on July 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

In Warsaw for the NATO summit, President Obama slammed the “vicious, calculated and despicable” attack on police officers during a Dallas protest against police violence Thursday evening.

Four Dallas Police officers and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer were killed. Seven officers and two civilians were wounded.

Police Chief David Brown did not identify any of the suspects in a press conference this morning, or confirm that there was more than one shooter among the three people arrested and one known gunman killed in a community college parking garage. After hours of talking and exchanging gunfire with that suspect, Brown said the decision was made to send a robot carrying explosives toward the man. He was killed by that blast, the chief said.

Brown revealed some of the statements the suspect made to negotiators: He was upset over officer-involved shootings and wanted to kill white people, “especially white officers.” He did not express affiliation to any certain group.

“We’re hurting. Our profession is hurting. Dallas officers are hurting. We are heartbroken. There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city. All I know is that this must stop — this divisiveness between our police and our citizens,” Brown said.

“We don’t feel much support most days. Let’s not make today most days. Please, we need your support, to be able to protect you from men like these, who carried out this tragic, tragic event.”

At the outset of a press conference with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Obama said his team had been keeping him updated throughout the morning on the ambush in Dallas.

“I spoke this morning with Mayor [Mike] Rawlings of Dallas to convey the deepest condolences of the American people. I told him that the federal government will provide whatever assistance Dallas may need as it deals with this tremendous tragedy,” Obama said.

“We still don’t know all the facts. What we do know is that there has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement,” he added. “Police in Dallas were on duty, doing their jobs, keeping people safe during peaceful protests. These law enforcement officers were targeted, and nearly a dozen officers were shot. Five were killed. Other officers and at least one civilian were wounded — some are in serious condition, and we are praying for their recovery.”

“As I told Mayor Rawlings, I believe that 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.”

Obama predicted that “we will learn more, undoubtedly” about the “twisted motivations” of the suspect or suspects.

“But let’s be clear: There is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement. The FBI is already in touch with the Dallas police, and anyone involved in these senseless murders will be held fully accountable. Justice will be done,” he said.

“I will have more to say about this as the facts become more clear. For now, let me just say that even as yesterday I spoke about our need to be concerned, as all Americans, about racial disparities in our criminal justice system, I also said yesterday that our police have an extraordinarily difficult job and the vast majority of them do their job in outstanding fashion. I also indicated the degree to which we need to be supportive of those officers who do their job each and every day, protecting us and protecting our communities.”

The president called today “a wrenching reminder of the sacrifices that they make for us.”

“We also know that when people are armed with powerful weapons, unfortunately it makes attacks like these more deadly and more tragic. And in the days ahead, we’re going to have to consider those realities as well,” Obama continued.

“In the meantime, today our focus is on the victims and their families. They are heartbroken. The entire city of Dallas is grieving. Police across America, which is a tight-knit family, feels this loss to their core. And we’re grieving with them. I’d ask all Americans to say a prayer for these officers and their families. Keep them in your thoughts. And as a nation, let’s remember to express our profound gratitude to our men and women in blue — not just today, but every day.”

Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) stressed in a statement that “our law enforcement officers put themselves in harm’s way every day, and to target those who serve and protect our community in such a senseless and vicious way is shocking and reprehensible.”