DALLAS (AP) — A man who authorities say opened fire outside Dallas police headquarters from his parked van, with bullets piercing the glass at the entrance and causing damage inside, was the only person killed after the gunfire turned into a street battle and standoff.
Chief David Brown said the suspect told authorities he was James Boulware and blamed police for having lost custody of his son and for “accusing him of being a terrorist.” But authorities declined to officially identify the man until a medical examiner verified it.
A police sniper shot and killed the man in his van early Saturday after, according to Brown, the department felt he still posed enough of a threat. The suspect had told police negotiators that he had explosives in the van.
“When the negotiation was on, he became increasingly angry and threatening, such that we were not only concerned with our officers there trying to contain the scene being shot by him at a moment’s notice,” but also people nearby, Brown said at a news conference.
Officers also found the man had planted pipe bombs outside police headquarters.
Police questioned Boulware’s father, also named James, later in the day Saturday, arriving while an Associated Press reporter was at the home.
Authorities said the shooting miraculously left no one else dead or injured. Among the areas damaged inside: the front desk where the worker on duty had just gone to get a soft drink.
The suspect also fired on officers who drove up to confront him, riddling at least one squad car with bullets but not actually hitting anyone. Cellphone video shot from a nearby balcony or roof showed the suspect’s dark-colored van ram a squad car as gunshots rang out. At one point the man got out of his van and walked toward the entrance to the building firing his gun but turned around, according to Dallas Police Maj. Jeff Cotner.
Police would not say why he retreated.
The van then fled, eventually stopping in a restaurant parking lot in the suburb of Hutchins, where the standoff ensued until the police sniper shot and killed the man.
Investigators found a package of pipe bombs in the parking lot at police headquarters and at least two more pipe bombs in the van, police said.
Wary that the van may have been rigged with explosives, police used a camera-equipped robot to inspect it rather than have officers approach it immediately, which was why it took several hours to confirm the suspect was dead.
After he was confirmed dead, the van erupted in flames while the authorities were detonating the suspected ordnance inside.
Boulware’s father said that his son had strong feelings against law enforcement after he lost custody of his son, now 12 or 13 years old. Boulware spent several hours Friday at his father’s home in Carrollton, a Dallas suburb.
His father said he talked about how well his recently purchased van drove. But he also discussed a widely publicized video of a police officer in McKinney, Texas, pushing a black teenage girl to the ground and brandishing his gun at other teens.
Boulware’s father last spoke with Boulware by phone about three hours before Dallas police said the shooting began.
“Not being able to get a job and the legal system letting him down, (he) finally snapped,” the elder James Boulware told the AP in a phone interview before police arrived to question him about his son. “But I can’t say shooting at a police station is right in any way.”
The attack began around 12:30 a.m., when several police officers were standing nearby. A popular bar across the street from police headquarters was still open, and the neighborhood is also home to a boutique hotel and apartment buildings.
Reporters allowed to walk through the scene after it had been secured counted numerous bullet holes in the front window of the police building. Number markings were all over the street to show where shell casings and other forms of evidence had been found. Blackened debris marked the spot where the pipe bombs exploded in the parking lot of the police station.
One squad car that police said had been occupied by two officers at the time had a bullet hole in the back of the driver’s seat. Police on the scene declined to say how the two officers escaped the shots or if they had ducked below the dash.
In the early confusion, witnesses reported seeing as many as four attackers, including some who had taken high positions for better vantage points. Brown later said investigators were confident the only attacker was the suspect later killed.
Anita Grendahl was asleep in her seventh-floor apartment in a high-rise across from police headquarters when she heard gunshots loud enough to wake her up over a white noise machine in her room.
“We just woke up to a few pops and thought somebody was on my balcony, and then looked outside and saw the van crash into the car,” she said.
Associated Press reporter Diana Heidgerd and video journalist Jacques Star in Dallas contributed to this report.
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