Obama Says America Is “Horrified” Over Dallas Attack

UPDATED: July 8, 2016 6:48 AM

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WARSAW, Poland (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – President Barack Obama said Friday that America is “horrified” by what appears to be a planned sniper shooting targeting police officers in Dallas, and he said there is no justification for the violence.

In a brief statement to reporters, Obama said the investigation into the shooting continues but “what we do know is there has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement.”

Obama called the shooters motives “twisted” and vowed that “justice will be done.”

“There’s no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement,” Obama said, noting that he had spoken with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and offered his support and condolences.

Obama spoke from Warsaw, Poland, where he is meeting with NATO and European Union leaders. Obama arrived early Friday shortly before snipers opened fire on police officers, killing five officers and injuring several others during protests over two recent fatal police shootings of black men.

Immediately after landing in Warsaw, and before the shootings, Obama had expressed solidarity with protesters. He has acknowledged becoming out of the touch with the public mood during past foreign travels and seemed determined to let that happen this week. He aired his frustration with what he said were racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

But he also seemed attuned to the potential for backlash directed at police. He argued that there was no contradiction between supporting law enforcement and working to see that biases in the justice system are rooted out.

Past statements about other shootings have stoked tensions with law enforcement, including with FBI Director James Comey, who has suggested the intense public focus on police officers’ conduct, fueled by caught-on-camera moments could inhibit officers as they try to protect their communities.

Aiming to pre-empt that concern, Obama said that speaking out about the issue is not an attack on police. Obama said that he and other Americans appreciate the risks police officers take.

“And so, to all of law enforcement, I want to be very clear: We know you have a tough job. We mourn those in uniform who are protecting us who lose their lives,” he said prior to the Dallas shootings.

Obama emphasized another part of that message in the aftermath Friday. He called the shootings a “wrenching reminder of the sacrifices” that police office make every day.

Other state officials issued their own statements on Friday.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Dallas law enforcement community,” said Gov. Greg Abbott in a release. “In times like this, we must remember — and emphasize — the importance of uniting as Americans.”

“During times like this, all Texans must stand united,” said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Friday. “Please pray for the families of the officers killed and wounded in the line of duty in this horrific attack. Pray for the men and women in law enforcement across Texas and across our nation. They put their lives on the line every day for us. This is not just a Dallas tragedy, but also a Texas and an America tragedy.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said, “The loss of the five officers in Dallas in the line of duty is a somber reminder of the heroic sacrifices these brave men and women perform each day to keep us safe. Today, we must all come together to honor their selfless service and sacrifice.”

“Our law enforcement officers put themselves in harm’s way every day,” said Sen. John Cornyn, “and to target those who serve and protect our community in such a senseless and vicious way is shocking and reprehensible.”

“This tragedy literally hits close to home. This act of evil and cowardice took place just a few miles away from where my family goes to sleep every night — a place I’ve called home for more than 30 years,” said Rep. Jeb Hensarling on Friday. “This is a day of mourning, a day of prayer, but it is also a day to say ‘thank you’ to every man and women who wears the law enforcement uniform.”

“Words cannot begin to describe my sorrow for the devastation that Dallas experienced last night,” said Rep. Michael Burgess on Friday. “This is not the way to move our country forward.”

“Laura and I are heartbroken by the heinous acts of violence in our city last night,” said former President George W. Bush on Friday. “We join our fellow citizens in saluting the fine law enforcement officers in Dallas and across the country who put their own lives on the line to keep all lives safe.”

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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