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Five officers were killed as a peaceful protest erupted into chaos.

A protest march in downtown Dallas exploded into violence when a lone gunman began shooting, killing five law enforcement officers and wounding seven more in the deadliest attack on law enforcement since 9/11.

The shooting happened during a peaceful march to protest the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile earlier this week. Those killings were captured on video and sparked outrage across the nation.

Witnesses first thought there were multiple shooters, but it was later confirmed that there was just one gunman, identified as Micah Xavier Johnson, a 25-year-old military veteran who served in Afghanistan. Johnson engaged in a three-hour standoff with a SWAT team inside a parking garage at a community college before police sent in a bomb squad robot that detonated an explosive device and killed him.

Three other suspects were taken into custody on Friday morning, but were released after questioning.

During the standoff, Johnson told police negotiators that there were “bombs all over the place in this garage and downtown” and that “the end is coming.” After a thorough sweep of the area, no bombs or other explosive devices were found.

In a Friday morning news conference, Dallas police chief David Brown said Johnson “was upset about the recent police shootings,” and that he “wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.”

President Barack Obama called it a “vicious, callous and despicable attack.” Earlier in the week, he issued a statement on the killings of Sterling and Castile, saying that every American “should be deeply troubled” by their deaths.

“We’ve seen such tragedies far too many times,” he said, calling them “symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve.”

During a press conference on Friday, Dallas police chief Brown told reporters that officers are “hurting.”

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

Meanwhile, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch urged people not to turn to violence in the midst of their frustration and sadness.

“After the events of this week, Americans across the county are feeling a sense of helplessness, of uncertainty and of fear. Now, these feelings are understandable and they are justified,” said Lynch, “but the answer must not be violence.”

***This story was originally titled Snipers Gun Down 12 Police Officers As Dallas Protest Erupts Into Chaos and has since been edited to reflect new information. Keep following us to stay updated as events unfold.***

Image via abc7.com.

Comment: How are you coping in the wake of this week’s events?