Military service changed the Dallas gunman Micah Xavier Johnson from an extrovert into a "hermit" obsessed with the black power movement, his parents revealed.
The former US Army soldier's mother, father and stepmother have spoken out for the first time since their son killed five police officers in Dallas last week.
Johnson’s mother, Delphine Johnson, told TheBlaze website that her son wanted to be a police officer as a child.
The devastated mother said her son's six years in the Army Reserve, including a tour in Afghanistan, were “not what Micah thought it would be … what he thought the military represented, it just didn’t live up to his expectations".
“He loved his country,” she said. “He wanted to protect his country.”
In tears, his father, James Johnson said: “I don’t know what to say to anybody to make anything better. I didn’t see it coming.”
"I love my son with all my heart, I hate what he did."
When Johnson was 25 he was accused of sexually harassing a female soldier in May 2014 while deployed in Afghanistan.
According to his family, he transformed from an extrovert into a "hermit" during his six-year-stint in the army.
Johnson fatally shot five officers while hundreds of people were gathered in downtown Dallas to protest recent fatal police shootings, and wounded nine others officers and two civilians.
Police used a Northrop Grumman Corp Mark5A-1 robot equipped with explosives to kill Johnson after concluding during an hours-long standoff there was no safe way of taking him into custody, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said.
Brown defended the decision to kill Johnson with a bomb delivered by remote-controlled robot, had “already killed us in a grave way, and officers were in surgery that didn’t make it”.
“This wasn’t an ethical dilemma for me,” he said. “I’d do it again. I do it again to save our officers lives.”
Authorities have said Johnson had plans for a larger assault, possessed enough explosive material to inflict far greater harm and kept a journal of combat tactics.
“We’re convinced that this suspect had other plans and thought that what he was doing was righteous and believed that he was going to target law enforcement - make us pay for what he sees as law enforcement’s efforts to punish people of color,” Brown told CNN.
Brown also revealed details about Johnson’s negotiations with police, saying he laughed at authorities, sang and at one point asking how many officers he had shot.
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Johnson insisted on speaking with a black negotiator and wrote in blood on the wall of a parking garage where police cornered and later killed him, Brown said.
The gunman wrote the letters “RB” and other markings, but the meaning was unclear.
Investigators are trying to decipher the writing by looking through evidence from Johnson’s suburban Dallas home, Brown said.
The writing suggested that Johnson was wounded in a shootout with police and an autopsy will confirm exactly how many times he was hit.
Johnson had material for explosives and talked of using homemade bombs during a standoff with police before he was killed, which indicated he could have done more damage with more time, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said.
The investigation will involve more than 170 hours of body camera footage and “countless hours” of dashcam video.
The shootings just a few blocks from where President John F. Kennedy was slain in 1963 marked the deadliest day for US law enforcement since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Federal agents are trying to trace the origin of the weapons used, including a military-style semi-automatic rifle. About 30 agents are involved in identifying bullet casings, said William Temple, the Dallas agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The large crime scene includes the parking garage where Johnson was killed and at least two other sites where he is believed to have fired at officers.
The attack began Thursday evening during protests over the police killings of Philando Castile, who was fatally shot near St. Paul, Minnesota, and Alton Sterling, who was shot in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after being pinned to the pavement by two white officers.
Video from Dallas showed protesters marching along a downtown street about half a mile from City Hall when shots erupted and the crowd scattered, seeking cover.
Among those injured were two officers from El Centro College, the school said in a statement Sunday night, identifying them as Cpl. Bryan Shaw and Officer John Abbott.
Dallas police previously said seven officers and two civilians were hurt in the attack. Its number of wounded did not include any El Centro College officers.