Police Provide Details of Shootout at El Centro

Micah Xavier Johnson started his rampage by pulling his SUV onto Lamar Street. The street was empty, cleared out in anticipation of the police protest march that was just concluding downtown. He parked his vehicle sideways in the street, grill facing El Centro's east entrance.

There, El Centro College Police Chief Joseph Hannigan said Tuesday, he started a conversation with three Dallas police officers. "He got out and, we believe, engaged three Dallas police officers in a short conversation, then pulled his rifle and shot them," Hannifin said.

When nearby officers returned fire, Johnson attempted to shoot his way into El Centro's entrance, shattering the college's Lamar Street-facing glass doors. El Centro police Cpl. Bryan Shaw and Officer John Abbott had been ordered inside the building by Hannigan in hopes that they wouldn't aggravate the protesters. From there, the pair returned fire and, for the time being, kept Johnson out of the building.

Johnson ran to El Centro's Elm Street entrance and forced his way into the college after shooting and killing DART police officer Brent Thompson. The shooter ran up a set of stairs, exchanging gunfire with police the whole way.

"[Shaw and Abbott] heard gunfire from the Elm Street doors. As they tactically approached, they observed a blood trail leading from the doors to a stairwell. Shaw entered the stairwell and was fired upon," Hannigan said.
Johnson then made his way to a portion of the school's library that overlooks its Elm Street loading dock, Hannigan said. From his perch above the loading dock, Johnson fired indiscriminately at officers, eventually bringing the death toll to five and knocking out windows at El Centro and at a 7-Eleven across the street.

After leaving the library, Johnson sought cover in an area of El Centro filled with office and the school's computer servers. He moved through the school like someone who might have been inside the building before; he would have had access to the school during the one semester in which he was enrolled at El Centro's fellow Dallas County Community College, Richland, the chief said.

Johnson was injured and bleeding, Hannigan confirmed, but held out for more than four hours, firing hundred of rounds at police from his standoff spot. The standoff ended when Dallas Police Chief David Brown approved sending in a police robot armed with a pound of C4. When the explosives detonated, Johnson was killed, the school's servers taken out as well.
Since the shooting on July 7, the FBI has combed through Johnson's wake. They've removed sections of drywall and hundred of shell casings. York crews have cleaned up the blood and boarded up the shattered windows. Staff will return Wednesday and students on Thursday. The library, but for the wood covered windows looking down on the 7-Eleven, looks no worse for the wear. The corridor where Johnson holed up can't say the same.

Two doors leading to where Johnson concealed himself are still riddled with bullet holes. As one would expect, the C4 did a lot of damage, taking out mostly drywall. Structurally, however, everything is still mostly intact.

As El Centro gets back up and running, counselors will be available for students and staff, school president Jose Adames said Thursday. The school is also planning special events to get students into the flow of the second summer session which was slated to begin on July 12. Classes set for El Centro's satellite campuses in West and South Dallas have started as scheduled, but classes set for the school's A, B and C buildings downtown were not able to start pending the FBI investigation.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young