Micah Xavier Johnson was a failed Army reservist and Afghan war veteran who radicalized into a state of racially fueled hatred. His misdirected rage ultimately drove him to kill five Dallas-area police officers in July of 2016. He also wounded another eleven people all with a 5.45x39mm Saiga rifle and a pair of handguns. The cops finally ended his murderous rampage with a weaponized exploding robot.
Micah Johnson was born in Mississippi but raised in Mesquite, Texas. Like most mass shooters, Johnson was the product of a sordid broken home life. His parents divorced when he was four.
The young man struggled, graduating from high school with a 1.98 GPA before enrolling at Richland College. He began four classes but failed to complete any of them. Johnson simultaneously served as a 12W Carpentry and Masonry Specialist in the Army Reserves. He received the obligate training on the M16 rifle but, according to a friend, was never terribly proficient.
His fellow soldiers described Johnson as openly religious and friendly with soldiers of all races. However, his superiors described him as quiet and unmotivated. Over time he became a loner, choosing to take his meals alone in a vehicle rather than with his unit.
In May of 2014 during his combat deployment to Afghanistan, Johnson stole four pairs of women’s underwear from a female soldier in his unit. When confronted about the theft he denied involvement. However, one pair was discovered in his billet, while the other three were found in his pocket.
Johnson was subsequently disarmed and placed under 24-hour supervision, something that he found particularly humiliating. As his fellow soldiers were packing his gear in anticipation of his being transferred out of theater, they discovered an M430 40mm High Explosive Dual Purpose Grenade, a single round of .50-caliber ammunition, and another soldier’s prescription medication all stashed inside his sleeping bag.
The Army initiated proceedings to saddle Johnson with a dishonorable discharge. However, due to an administrative error, he left the military under honorable conditions.
Johnson was for a time a member of the New Black Panther Party, and his social media footprint showed interest in both the Nation of Islam and the Black Riders Liberation Army. His parents said that prior to his military service Johnson had been outgoing and patriotic, aspiring to a career in Law Enforcement. After he left the military, however, he was disillusioned, reclusive, and resentful of the government.
Johnson worked in a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop and as a personal caregiver for his adult disabled brother. In early 2011 he presented to the Mesquite, Texas, police station agitated, confused, and behaving erratically. He was also involved in an altercation at a local Wal-Mart that necessitated a police response. Neighbors reported that he conducted mock military exercises in his backyard, and he sought tactical training from a local civilian self-defense school.
Johnson was treated at the VA for depression, anxiety, and hallucinations along with a variety of somatic ailments. He claimed he heard voices and suffered from panic attacks several times a week. Throughout it all, he gradually came to view white police officers as the causative agents for his many personal ills.
An investigation showed that Johnson had been planning his attack for some time by accumulating weapons, ammunition, and equipment. The murders of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, both black men killed by white police officers, were the catalyzing events that triggered his rampage.
On the night of July 7, 2016, around 800 protestors gathered in downtown Dallas as part of a nationwide event organized by the Next Generation Action Network. About 100 Dallas police officers were on hand to ensure security. The protest and subsequent attacks all took place around the campus of El Centro College.
Micah Johnson abandoned his mother’s SUV with the hazard lights flashing near the eastern entrance to campus. Armed with his rifle and a pair of pistols and wearing body armor, he then engaged a group of Law Enforcement Officers and nearby civilians. In his initial fusillade, Johnson killed three police officers and wounded another three along with a bystander.
The inevitable fog of war bred confusion among the cops in the opening moments of the exchange. The scene was chaotic, and the urban environment made localizing the gunfire difficult. Officer Brent Thompson encountered Johnson and initiated a running gun battle. However, Johnson pinned Thompson down behind a concrete pillar before flanking the officer and killing him at close range.
By now Johnson was wounded and trying to find a proper defensive position. He attempted unsuccessfully to shoot his way through glass doors onto campus, in the process wounding a pair of police officers. One of the wounded officers was hit in the abdomen below his vest. This bullet was not actually discovered for another three weeks.
Johnson then successfully breached a second glass door before moving up a set of stairs in an attempt at attaining a height advantage. One of the wounded campus cops followed his blood trail until he was forced back by a heavy volume of fire in the stairwell. Once on the mezzanine level of the building, Johnson shot out a window and engaged and killed a fifth police officer standing in front of a nearby 7-11 store. At this point, however, Johnson was contained and tactical units were on site.
Police negotiators attempted to reason with Johnson only to be answered with singing and laughing. He insisted on speaking solely to black police officers and queried regarding the body count thus far. Negotiators described him as delusional. However, his position was easily defended. SWAT team members exchanged fire with him for an extended period but were unable to connect without exposing themselves unduly.
In desperation, the cops affixed a pound of C-4 plastic explosive to the manipulator arm of an EOD robot and maneuvered the machine into position on the opposite side of the wall against which Johnson cowered. They detonated the explosive remotely, killing Johnson instantly. This was the first known instance wherein American Law Enforcement used a robot to kill an armed and violent suspect from a distance.
The robot suffered damage to its manipulator’s arm but otherwise remained serviceable. Johnson was found to have scrawled the letters “RB” in his own blood before he died. The meaning of this message remains a mystery.
Johnson bought his 5.45x39mm Saiga rifle from a private seller two years prior in a Target parking lot. The Saiga family of guns is made in Izhmash, Russia, in the same factory where Mikhail Kalashnikov did most of his work. The Saiga guns are sporterized versions of Russian military rifles intended for hunting use. They are offered in seven different calibers.
The 5.45x39mm round is a rimless bottlenecked round with a long slender bullet first introduced into service with Soviet troops in 1974. The thin bullet offers good aerodynamic efficiency as well as exceptional ballistic performance. The 5.45x39mm round is the rough counterpart to the NATO 5.56x45mm and Chinese 5.8x42mm intermediate cartridges.
The original 7N6 Soviet military round has an unconventional architecture. The 52.9-grain 25.55mm boat-tail projectile is clad in gilding-metal and encapsulates a mild steel 22.1-grain penetrator covered with a thin lead inlay. The production of the bullet leaves a small air space in the tip, and the rear of the projectile is sealed with a lead plug. The end result pushes the center of gravity to the rear and causes the bullet to tumble violently upon impact. Subsequent loads include enhanced penetration, subsonic, and tracer variants.
Johnson also carried a Gen 4 Glock 19 in 9mm as well as Fraser .25-caliber pocket pistol. The Glock 19 is a popular Law Enforcement, military, and civilian handgun.
The Fraser is an inexpensive American-made copy of the .25-caliber Baby Browning.
Much hay has been made over the fact that Johnson obtained his rifle via an unregulated person-to-person sale. However, the killer bought his gun a full two years before his crime. He could have built one from scratch during that time had he been so inclined. To criminalize individual sales of firearms not only violates 2nd Amendment protections but also creates an entirely new unnecessary species of criminals out of previously law-abiding Americans who loan or sell guns to friends or family. As near as I could tell, thanks to the Army mix-up, Johnson still could have just purchased his guns commercially.
In Micah Xavier Johnson we see a mentally unbalanced racist killer who projected his personal failings onto white Law Enforcement Officers. His rampage resulted in a tragic loss of life among those who were present to serve and protect the very protestors who marched against them.
That Johnson was terminated remotely by means of a repurposed weaponized police robot seems an ideal solution to this madman’s reign of terror.