Top South Carolina officials have begun to speak out following the tragic shooting in Dallas, Texas, that left five officers dead and wounded seven other officers and two civilians Thursday night. The New York Times reports that the main shooter
has been identified as Micah X. Johnson, 25, of Dallas. Three others are in custody.
Thursday’s attack took place during a public demonstration in response to the shooting deaths of two African-American men in Minnesota and Louisiana — Alton Sterling and Philando Castile — by police, both of which were captured on video and released to the public. By most accounts, the Dallas protest was peaceful until the gunman opened fire. Dallas Police Chief David Brown told reporters Friday that Johnson said he was upset about upset about the recent police shootings and wished to kill white officers.
Just one day after expressing his condolences to Sterling and Castile and stating his support for criminal justice reform, President Barack Obama again held a press conference to address the events in Dallas.
“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,” said the president. “Today is 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.”
South Carolina officials also took the time to voice their condolences and opinions on the Dallas attack and the two deaths that led up to it. Footage showing the deaths of Sterling and Philando serves as a stark reminder of the shooting of Walter Scott by a North Charleston police officer, which was captured on video by an eyewitness. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn discussed the shootings during a Congressional Black Caucus press conference Thursday. The South Carolina Democrat stated that “Black lives do matter” and called on Congress to have a mature conversation about the racial issues that plague the country in order to resolve them.
Clyburn’s fellow Congressman, U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, was brief in sharing his condolences, taking to Twitter only to write, “Horrible news out of #Dallas. It’s never easy to learn someone gave all in service of others, & accordingly, I’m praying for those affected.”
Sanford’s sentiment mirrored that of Gov. Nikki Haley, who released a statement, saying, “We pray for peace for the people of Dallas. We join all of our officers in blue across the country who are mourning the loss of their brothers. Michael and I are praying for the families of those officers who were taken from us as well as those who were injured yesterday amid more senseless violence.”
South Carolina’s U.S. senators had more to say following this week’s events. Sen. Lindsey Graham said he was horrified by the attack on law enforcement officers in Dallas and expressed his respect for those behind the badge.
“I have great respect for those who wear the uniform and protect our communities,” said Graham. “As we saw last night, when trouble arises police officers run into harm’s way and risk their own lives to protect the lives of others. They truly are some of the heroes in our midst.”
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott described the events of the last week as tragic and said the country feels like it is fraying. Scott then took the time to address the recent string of tragedies individually:
“In Baton Rouge, Alton Sterling’s children are mourning the loss of their father. Their heartbreaking press conference showed us all the human toll that these shootings truly take.
"In Minnesota, Philando Castile died live … live on Facebook. The firsthand account of this event, and the video thereafter, is truly shocking. Having to hear a 4-year-old girl try to comfort her mother... it is almost impossible to put into words the emotions that image conveys.
"These two deaths are the latest in a troubling trend of disturbing videos involving law enforcement and black men. We experienced this in my hometown of North Charleston last year, and I could not be more proud of the way our community came together. Protests were peaceful, voices were heard and the healing continues.
"Then, last night, after police and protesters peacefully interacted throughout the night, came a devastating ambush in Dallas. Twelve police officers shot, five dead. There is absolutely no rationale for targeting law enforcement, and these actions are truly reprehensible.
"Even during the tragedy, we saw the heroism of our brave law enforcement officers as they helped people to safety. We mourn the loss of these officers last night, and we are all praying for Dallas today.
"Reacting to violence with violence will only lead to more heartache. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.’
"We cannot, will not, let hate win. We have bridges to cross, but we cannot allow madmen to widen the divide.
"America is a beautiful portrait of diversity, and part of that picture is understanding how our neighbors see the world. I’ve often described our nation as a patchwork quilt. These patches are black and white, red and brown, woven together by this notion of freedom and love.
"We have to look within ourselves to find the resources necessary to treat others as we would have them treat us.
"My prayers are with every one of these mourning families today. Let’s honor their memories by finding the solutions that need to be found.”