WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Barack Obama has returned early from an overseas trip to begin trying to comfort those unsettled by the series of recent shootings.
After arriving from Spain late Sunday, Obama will fly Tuesday to Dallas. The president is due to deliver remarks at an interfaith memorial service for the five police officers killed Thursday when a shooter opened fire at a protest over police brutality.
Obama has tasked himself with helping Americans make sense of a frustrating cloud of issues swirling around the shootings. The president is expected to speak to rising anxiety about shootings, race relations and gun control.
He is also expected to meet with victims’ families and with local law enforcement officials mourning their own.
In Dallas over the weekend, many lined up at Police Headquarters to offer support.
“They’re crying with us too and they’re letting us know if you need anything we’re here for you,” said Officer Shawna Alvarez.
Four days after the ambush that also left seven officers and two civilians hurt, investigators say the gunman had bigger plans.
On Sunday, the city’s police chief revealed that Micah Johnson had larger attack plans and possessed enough explosive material to inflict far greater harm.
“We’re convinced that this suspect had other plans and thought that what he was doing was righteous,” said Dallas Police Chief David Brown.
Brown said Johnson, a black Army veteran, insisted on speaking with a black negotiator. He said the gunman used his own blood to write “RB” on the wall of a parking garage where police cornered and later killed him after negotiations failed.
The chief also defended his department’s unprecedented use of a robot bomb to kill Johnson.
“Without our actions, he would have hurt more officers so we had no choice, in my mind, but to use all tools necessary,” Brown said.
As the investigation in Dallas intensifies, demonstrations continued throughout the country, protesting the deadly police shootings of two black men, one in Baton Rouge and another near St. Paul, Minnesota.
In Memphis Sunday, demonstrators shut down a bridge and hundreds were arrested during demonstrations in Baton Rouge over the weekend.
The president has called for calm.
“I’d like all sides to listen to each other,” he said.
A funeral for Michael Smith, one of the five officers killed in Dallas, is scheduled for Wednesday.
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