Lessons learned: U.S. Rep. Johnson takes a look back at the the Micah Johnson shooting

MIKE MCGEE | 8/23/2016, 10:27 a.m.
During the now-infamous evening of July 7, after a peaceful protest downtown organized to denounce the use of lethal force ...
PHOTO 1: U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Texas-30 /PHOTO 2: Dallas police move in on a suspect after several police officers were shot in Downtown Dallas. Authorities described the sniper Micah Johnson as a loner and “demented.” But in multiple family, friends and acquaintances remember the 25-year-old as a gregarious, even “goofy” extrovert. But after his Army career ended, they say, the easygoing young man became deeply shamed and ostracized. Mike McGee/LM Otero

The Dallas Examiner

During the now-infamous evening of July 7, after a peaceful protest downtown organized to denounce the use of lethal force against African Americans by police, the evening came to a violent conclusion when a Black U.S. Army reservist opened fire on White and Latino Dallas Police Department and Dallas Area Rapid Transit officers – some of whom had military service backgrounds of their own.

By the time the echoes of gunfire down Lamar and Elm Streets had faded, five officers were dead and another 11 individuals wounded.

For days, supporters of both the Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter philosophies were mutually horrorstricken by the act of Micah Johnson. Soon after, residents with varying points of view came together in solidarity against violence toward civilians and law enforcement alike, culminating in a unity memorial five days later, during which President Obama addressed the city and the nation. Also participating in the ceremony was a local, long-serving voice on Capitol Hill.

Eddie Bernice Johnson, no relation to the shooter, but rather the U.S. Congressional Representative for District 30, took her place onstage along with Obama, former President George W. Bush, Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, DPD Chief David Brown and many others.

Johnson, 80, currently the most senior ranking female representative of the state, recently shared her perspective on the crime and the policy alternatives regarding mental health care, firearm ownership and policing that she believes need to be put into place as a preventative measure against similar future events.

“What we want to do is be a part of change,” she admitted. “We’re trying to see whether we can improve dialog between the police and the citizens. We recognize that what happened here was not stimulated here.”

She was referring to the killings of Black men Philando Castile and Alton Sterling by White officers, acts which spurred the protest that culminated in the shooting.

Notably, Johnson is the first registered nurse to be elected to U.S. Congress. Her biography mentions that she also served as chief psychiatric nurse at the Dallas Veterans Administration Hospital, the first African American to do so. This background lends the congresswoman a unique perspective into an event the mayor described as an act that pierced the soul of the city.

“But it emphasized more than one thing to me. One, it emphasized the lack of mental health availability to people. When you look at the history of this young man who was the perpetrator, he should have been in psychiatric care. Questions have been asked of the VA and there is an update from the Veteran’s Administration and the military on his history with care,” she mentioned. “That’s one weakness, because we find [with] a great percentage of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, if it does not get attention, it doesn’t get better.”

The reservist was discharged from the military after serving in Afghanistan.

The congresswoman revealed that novel approaches to preventing random, lone-wolf style violence are being considered in Washington, D.C. in response to the rampage.