Examining Terrorist Tactics: The Lethal Geography of Downtown Dallas


Exploiting Urban Geography

The shooting of 14 people during a protest march, 12 of them police officers, is without question a terrorist-style assault on the police force of one of America’s largest cities.

Five Dallas cops, including a Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer, died from a gunman who declared he acted alone and wanted to kill police officers, white people and white police officers, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said. The ambush follows shootings of black men by police officers in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis.

Police said one male gunman, Micah X. Johnson, died inside a downtown community college building after cops sent in a robot, which blew up an attached explosive device. A female suspect who allegedly fired at officers was arrested overnight.

Dallas Police said at least two gunmen had fired at them from a “triangulated … elevated position.”

There is mixed information about key details. For one, it’s not clear if there were one or two shooters — or more — or if any shooter was actually on elevated ground. Two men arrested while driving away from downtown were uninvolved in the shootings, as was a man photographed while carrying a rifle during the march.

However, if the gunman or gunmen acted as snipers, they would have exploited a particular vulnerability of downtown Dallas’ urban geography.

More than 50 years ago, ex-Marine and Marxist gunman Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated Pres. John F. Kennedy from a sniper’s perch — now Dallas’ most famous tourist attraction — at Dealey Plaza blocks from where Thursday’s gunmen unleashed his rampage.

This isn’t to force a comparison, but to stress that a sniper — if he was perched— would have been at an extreme advantage over anyone in the street. Dallas, like many so-called “Sunbelt cities,” has an urban area that is both built up and yet is relatively less dense than many other downtowns.

It’s also to note an aspect of America’s modern security culture that has resolutely failed. We can build subtle barriers against car bombs and stop terrorists from boarding airplanes, but we’ve done little to prevent people with high-powered rifles from striking down their fellow citizens.

Here is a digitally-altered photo from Google Earth showing the location of the attack:


Read the Remainder at War is Boring

2 thoughts on “Examining Terrorist Tactics: The Lethal Geography of Downtown Dallas

  1. Pingback: Examining Terrorist Tactics: The Lethal Geography of Downtown Dallas | Rifleman III Journal

  2. Am I missing something?
    A musing it of what happened it may be but without a layout of the targets and the positional data of the shooter though out, it’s simply not possible to work out what actually happened.

    Additionally without the full layout, the multiple shooters theory cannot be proven or disproved.

    Plus what fool of a shooter puts himself at ground level, in multiple hostile company, unless in the act of egress. I’m thinking only one with a death wish which seems to be the case.

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