But the most frightening part was Johnson’s sense of entitlement.
The disturbing trend is widely evidenced and growing.
Johnson described himself as a “black nationalist” on his Facebook page. What’s disconcerting about him is he’s not alone.
An untold number of ex-soldiers, many with combat experience, have armed themselves to the teeth and exhibit the same type of self-entitled extremist views.
Facebook is rife with self-styled “patriots” who are just as extreme–if from the opposite end of the political spectrum.
“Anyone who votes for Clinton will deserve what follows! People better be prepared!!!” wrote one member of “Ohio Oath Keepers,” an extremist patriot group. “If you vote for Clinton and she’s elected, be prepared for the consequences.”
While much media attention is focused on the threat posed by Islamic extremists, Johnson’s despicable act and the action of other right-wing “patriot” extremists bears watching by law enforcement authorities as well.
Johnson had the means, and he believed, the right to exact his own brand of revenge for the police shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA and Philando Castile in Minnesota.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings confirmed in a news conference that Johnson was armed with an AR-15 assault rifle. He also carried several 30-round ammunition clips.
The National Rifle Association has staunchly opposed restrictions on the sale of the AR-15 and similar assault rifles. It also opposes restrictions on the capacity of ammunition clips.
Johnson was killed after a four-hour standoff at nearby El Centro College. Before he died, he told police negotiators he’d acted alone because he was upset about the police shootings.
“The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers,” Dallas Police Chief David Brown said today at a news conference.
The central question is what made Johnson think he was justified in his actions? Was it because he was skilled in the use of weapons and conducting a military style ambush?
Investigators later searched his home in Mesquite, Tx., about 20-miles outside Dallas. They found bomb making materials, military style body armor, rifles, ammunition and what was described as a “personal journal of combat tactics.”
Johnson had no criminal record, no previous arrests and no history of mental illness.
Texas has no state restrictions on gun purchases. He only needed to pass a federal background check and he was free to buy as many weapons and as much ammunition as he liked.
Johnson was still a member of the reserves. He enlisted in the Army in 2009 and served six years, including a tour of duty in Afghanistan, from Nov. 2013 to July 2014, according to military records.
Police investigators also discovered that Johnson had developed an interest in radical groups like the Nation of Islam, the Black Riders Liberation Party, the New Black Panther Party and the African American Defense League.
Without access to all that military hardware, would Johnson have thought differently about attacking police officers? His death precludes an answer to that question.
But without the means, the attack seems unlikely to have happened, at least not with the same devastating loss of life.
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