A Racist Murderer, a Russian Rifle, and a Killer Robot

In the summer of 2016, a former Army reservist opened fire on Law Enforcement Officers during a police protest march in Dallas, Texas. The subsequent use of a killer robot to end the violent standoff broke new ground in American Law Enforcement.

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.

Background

Here we see Micah Johnson as a ten-year-old boy. Prior to his radicalization, he was, by all accounts, a decent kid.

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.

PFC Johnson served in a Combat Engineer unit in the Army Reserves.

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.

Something dark and twisted took root in Johnson’s soul during his time in uniform.

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.

A substantiated sexual harassment charge levied against PFC Johnson while in a combat theater abruptly ended his military career.

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.

PFC Johnson tried to pilfer a live M430 HEDP grenade. The M430 is a high-velocity 40x53mm grenade used in the Mk19 automatic grenade launcher. Short of dropping it into a fire the M430 should be fairly harmless in the absence of a launcher to fire it.

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.

A clerical error apparently separated PFC Johnson from the military with an honorable discharge.

The Army initiated proceedings to saddle Johnson with a dishonorable discharge. However, due to an administrative error, he left the military under honorable conditions.

Radicalization

Johnson’s experience in the military left him withdrawn and bitter. He turned to radical black nationalism to find purpose in his life.

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.

This is a screengrab from Johnson’s Facebook page.

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 gradually came to view all white Law Enforcement Officers as the enemy.

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.

The Shootings

The killing of Alton Sterling and another black man by police helped spawn the Black Lives Matter movement. Subsequent events precipitated Micah Johnson’s attack. 

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.

Widespread protests against police served as cover for Johnson’s assault.

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.

Johnson opened fire on police serving as security for the march.

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.

Demonstrating unexpected tactical acumen, Johnson used fire and maneuver tactics to kill one Dallas police officer at close range.

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.

Surrounding cops ran to the sounds of battle and engaged Johnson, forcing him indoors where he could be contained.

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.

By the time Johnson made it upstairs, police tactical teams were available.

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.

Once Johnson retreated indoors officers found themselves at an impasse.

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.

Desperate to end the standoff without further loss of innocent life, the local commander authorized the use of a weaponized EOD robot. The explosion neutralized the threat immediately.

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 police robot was not badly damaged in the blast.

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.

The Guns

Johnson’s converted Saiga sporting rifle featured Magpul furniture and extensive modifications. A Saiga is a type of Russian antelope.

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.

Saiga sporting rifles are imported without pistol grips and with conventional furniture. Though the transformation into something scarier is extensive, the gun’s function remains unchanged.

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 complex design of the Russian 7N6 5.45x39mm AK74 round makes it exceptionally effective downrange.

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.

The Glock 19 is one of the most popular handguns in America.

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.

In a defensive scenario, the diminutive Fraser .25ACP is perhaps preferable to foul language and pleading but not by much.

The Fraser is an inexpensive American-made copy of the .25-caliber Baby Browning.

Denouement

Ongoing attempts to regulate the tools used by these maniacs are inevitably destined for failure. Criminalizing person-to-person firearm transfers runs the very real risk of creating further unnecessary violent conflict between Law Enforcement and private citizens.

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.

President Obama and former President Bush attended the memorial service for the fallen.
The aftermath of the 2016 Dallas massacre is a stark reminder of the risks of inciting racial hatred for political gain.
Regardless of ethnic considerations, violence against Law Enforcement can never be condoned, encouraged, or tolerated, particularly by political figures. Impressionable diseased minds tend to run with stuff like that.

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.

The use of a robot to end a violent standoff with a murderer represents a radical new direction in American Law Enforcement. Though there were some initial objections, most all involved admitted that this was the safest way to neutralize the threat.

That Johnson was terminated remotely by means of a repurposed weaponized police robot seems an ideal solution to this madman’s reign of terror.

Hate really knows no racial boundaries. Sparked by unfortunate events and further fueled by self-serving politicians, such stuff threatens the very fabric of our society.

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About the author: Will Dabbs was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, having been immersed in hunting and the outdoors since his earliest recollections. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Mississippi and is the product of a traditional American nuclear family. Where most normal American kids get drunk to celebrate their 21st birthday, Will bought his first two machineguns. Will served eight years as an Army Aviator and accumulated more than 1,100 flight hours piloting CH47D, UH1H, OH58A/C, and AH1S helicopters. He is scuba qualified, has parachuted out of perfectly good airplanes at 3 o’clock in the morning, and has summited Mt. McKinley, Alaska–the highest point in North America–six times (at the controls of a helicopter, which is the only way sensible folk climb mountains). For reasons that seemed sagacious at the time he ultimately left the Army as a Major to pursue medical school. Dr. Dabbs has for the last dozen years owned the Urgent Care Clinic of Oxford, Mississippi. He also serves as the plant physician for the sprawling Winchester ammunition plant in that same delightful little Southern town. Will is a founding partner of Advanced Tactical Ordnance LLC, a licensed 07/02 firearms manufacturer and has written for the gun press for a quarter century. He writes solely to support a shooting habit that is as insensate as it is insatiable. Will has been married to his high school sweetheart for more than thirty years and has taught his Young Married Sunday School class for more than a decade. He and his wife currently have three adult children and a most thoroughly worthless farm dog named Dog.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Chunk February 25, 2020, 1:22 am

    Against whom CAN violence be condoned, encouraged, or tolerated, particularly by political figures? Police aren’t special; if political figures can encourage attacks against civilians with impunity, shouldn’t the police be fair game as well?

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