Five police officers were killed and six others were wounded  Thursday night during a #blacklivesmatter demonstration protesting the police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota earlier this week. According to reports, snipers opened fire during the protest, causing crowds of non-violent protesters to run to safety.

Just hours earlier, President Barack Obama had spoken passionately from Warsaw, Poland about the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota—two African American men who became the most recent victims of violent and questionable deaths at the hands of police officers.

“We are better than this,” the President admonished in muted tones. “We have seen tragedies like this too many times,” he affirmed. “All of us as Americans should be troubled by the shootings.”

Thursday evening, in response to the deaths of Sterling and Castile, thousands of Americans came together in nonviolent protests in cities across the nation. People of all races and all ages stood shoulder to shoulder in solidarity in support of the families of the lost, in connection with one another, and in protest of what many believe to be the indiscriminate murders of Black and Brown people at the hands of those who are sworn to protect and serve.

There was something noticeably different about the general police response to the protesters this time. There was no riot gear, no armored vehicles– there seemed to be a genuine evolution in the police response to the protests and the protesters. As protesters and police comingled, both sides apparently intent on keeping the peace, something else in America went terribly wrong.

One of the cities where citizens gathered in peaceful protest was Dallas, Texas. As the protest progressed, a violent volley of bullets cut through the evening air and when the sound of flying bullets ceased—eleven officers were shot and five among them were dead.

As of this report, details of the shooting remained sketchy. Yet, it was quite apparent the officers were ambushed.  According to early reports, the shooter or shooters were staged on rooftops like snipers in the downtown area of the city and intentionally targeted the officers. In the early hours of Friday morning the Dallas Police Department reported it had two to three persons of interest in custody.

The Dallas incident made it ever more apparent that gun violence in America has reached a new peak.    “I’d just ask folks to step back and think,” the President said earlier in the evening when he spoke about the killings of Sterling and Castile, “What if this happened to somebody in your family? How would you feel?” The same question is applicable to the police officers shot down in Texas.

One Dallas resident and former Californian, Eldred Marshall, shared his personal experience and feelings on social media late Thursday. “This evening I was at the #BlackLivesMatter protest in downtown Dallas.” He wrote and continued. “Unfortunately, our peaceful rally and march was interrupted by a gunman. I, along with hundreds of people, ran to safety in various locations throughout the area.”

Marshall called on everyone, everywhere to, “Pray for this nation and her people.”All photos by Eldred Marshall for Black Voice News.