By Johnathan Silver, The Texas Tribune, texastribune.org
Editor’s note: This story has been updated throughout.
When civilians and police officers came under fire late Thursday night in Dallas, state officials live-tweeted the latest news, offered prayers and lamented a peaceful protest warping into a shootout between snipers and law enforcement.
North Texas-area lawmakers were some of the first officials to pick up the incident, which happened during one of several protests around the country in response to police fatally shooting Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota. Their deaths sparked national outcry about black individuals dying at the hands of law enforcement.
State Rep. Ramon Romero Jr., D-Fort Worth, was one of the first lawmakers to tweet regular updates as Dallas police and local news outlets released information, including as the death count rose and misinformation about a person of interest confused media outlets and people online.
Other officials expressed disbelief, called for peace and criticized President Barack Obama.
Earlier Thursday, President Barack Obama tried to quell a nation still reeling from the deaths of Sterling and Castile.
Less than 24 hours later, Obama spoke on the Dallas attack from Poland, calling it a a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement.”
Early Friday morning, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said officers were negotiating and exchanging fire with a suspect who said “the end is coming,” bombs are laid throughout downtown and that they would continue to attack law enforcement. Brown said he is not confident that all suspects have been found.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said the city would need help from Abbott’s office. Abbott’s office said in a subsequent statement that he spoke with Rawlings and that he is cutting short an out-of-state trip and heading directly to Dallas.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick offered his own remarks early Friday morning, urging Texans to stand united as the investigation continues and to “pray for the families of the officers killed and wounded in the line of duty in this horrific attack.”
“This is not just a Dallas tragedy, but also a Texas and an America tragedy,” Patrick said.