Residents Of Dallas Try To Make Sense Of Horrific Shooting

Jul 11, 2016
Originally published on July 11, 2016 7:46 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, as the investigation continues, our colleague Sam Sanders spent the weekend walking the streets of Dallas.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Days later, stories of the shooting are still trickling out, like Shatamia Taylor's. She was in the crowd Thursday night with her children at that protest over police violence. She saw the shooting up close.

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SHATAMIA TAYLOR: There was a pause, and then there was a second shot. And the police officer I saw - kind of tall, hefty, white guy, bald - I remember seeing him as he was going down. He said, he has a gun. Run.

SANDERS: As she ran from the gunfire with her kids, Taylor got hit.

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TAYLOR: I don't know if it bounced off the ground or what, but I felt it when it hit me in the back of my leg.

SANDERS: And then police officers there in the crowd protected her, threw their bodies over Taylor and her kids to shield them.

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TAYLOR: They had no regard for their own life. They stayed there with us. They surrounded my son and I.

SANDERS: Taylor told her story from a hospital yesterday. The audio is courtesy of The Dallas Morning News. For more than just Taylor, all over Dallas the wounds are still fresh. And in some parts of the city, it's all you see. Outside of Dallas police headquarters, there's been an almost nonstop vigil, as thousands of people have covered two squad cars with flowers and candles and balloons and notes, circling the cars as they pray and sometimes even sing. There are lots of tears.

LISA THOMPSON: I just think, as a country, we have to do something. We have to change. We all have to come together.

SANDERS: Lisa Thompson cried outside of those squad cars Sunday. Like lots of other people there, the conversation for Thompson was starting to shift to what's next. She wants people to stop talking about race so much. She doesn't want to think of the shooter as a black man, she says.

THOMPSON: It was a person. It was a person that was filled with hate and may have had some issues. I mean, I just think, if you focus so much on the color, we're not going to see the true problem.

SANDERS: Thompson said she, quote, "didn't want to see things go back to the '60s." but elsewhere in the crowd, there were different opinions. Patty Erickson completely disagreed.

PATTY ERICKSON: For whatever reason, there's a mindset that says, well, we left that behind in the '60s. But you can look and see that we haven't left it behind.

SANDERS: This is the challenge here in Dallas, and maybe all across the country. People know something has to change. But if you ask enough people, you really wouldn't be sure just what, whether it be on the issue of race or guns or policing or so many other things.

IRA CARTER: How are you, man?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Good to see you, man. Good.

CARTER: How you been?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Good.

SANDERS: Dallas Police Detective Ira Carter has been in the crowd, shaking hands and hugging people and consoling mourners, all weekend. And for him, there is no single or easy answer.

CARTER: I think you can respect both sides. I mean, it's just like any other problem - a math problem. Two plus two equals four. But if you write the problem on the board - two plus two - and you never put equals, it's just a problem.

SANDERS: Shatamia Taylor, who we heard from earlier - the woman who talked about being rescued by police Thursday night - she is an example of that. Even as her life was maybe saved by police officers after she went to that rally against police brutality, Taylor said she's never actually been anti-police.

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TAYLOR: I've always held police officers at a very high place in life. My son - my youngest one - since he's been six, it's all he wants to do.

SANDERS: For Taylor and a lot of people in Dallas, you can be on more than one side all at once. Sam Sanders, NPR News, Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.