WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) — Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spoke out Friday morning as Dallas police continue piecing together the particulars of an ambush that left at least five officers dead and seven more wounded.
Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump said in a statement, “Our nation has become too divided. Too many Americans feel like they’ve lost hope.”
Trump, who’s been criticized as repeatedly fanning racial strife during his campaign, declared, “Racial tensions have gotten worse, not better.”
The likely GOP nominee capped off his statement by concluding, “This is the time, perhaps more than ever, for strong leadership, love and compassion.”
He later tweeted he was cancelling his speech in Miami Friday due to the “horrific events” taking place.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton tweeted that she mourns “for the officers shot while doing their sacred duty to protect peaceful protesters.”
Just the day before, Clinton tweeted about the shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, both black men killed by police officers, saying, “Too many young black men and women have been taken from us.”
The killings of Castile and Sterling sparked nationwide protests against what activists call police brutality. Dallas was the scene of one such gathering, which was peaceful until shots began ringing out as the march broke up.
Police did not immediately release all of the officers’ identities.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown blamed “snipers,” but it was unclear how many shooters were involved. Authorities initially said three suspects were in custody and a fourth dead. But Brown later said police were not certain that all suspects had been located.
Mayor Mike Rawlings told the Associated Press the dead suspect, identified as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, was killed by police using explosives in a parking garage where the man had exchanged gunfire with officers.
After more than three hours of negotiations, “[Johnson] was killed when police sent an explosive device attached to a robot to where the suspect was holed up and detonated it, killing him,” The Washington Post reported.
Before dying, Chief Brown said Johnson told officers that he was upset about recent shootings and wanted to kill whites, “especially white officers.”
Johnson also said he was not affiliated with any groups and stated that he acted alone, Brown added.
President Barack Obama, traveling abroad, labeled the apparent hate-motivated shooting spree a “vicious, calculated, despicable attack on law enforcement.”
From the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., implored all Americans to bind together, saying, “Let’s not lose sight of the values that unite us… Respect, decency, compassion, humanity.”
Ryan closed by asking, “If we lose those fundamental things, what’s left?”Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @Chance Seales