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Dallas shooting witnesses describe 'fear, terror, frustration' of protest attack

A married couple who attended the Dallas protest that turned deadly when a sniper ambushed police said the scene was "pandemonium."
/ Source: TODAY

A married couple who attended the Dallas protest where several police officers were killed Thursday night described the "pandemonium" and confusion after a sniper opened fire.

"I experienced a lot of fear, a lot of terror, a lot of frustration, a lot of anger,'' Teshorn Jackson told Savannah Guthrie and Willie Geist on TODAY Friday. "It was just a very emotional night."

The bloodshed occurred during a peaceful protest of recent police shootings of black men around the country. Perched in elevated positions around downtown Dallas, a sniper shot 12 Dallas police officers, five of them fatally, police said.

Jackson and his wife, Reytheda, were walking back toward their car following the protest when gunfire erupted.

"I heard the first shot, but I didn't realize it was a shot,'' Reytheda said. "In the crowd there was screaming and pandemonium. My first thought was I need to get to my car and I need to get out of here."

Four of those killed were Dallas police officers and a fifth was a transit officer. It was the deadliest attack on U.S. law enforcement since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

RELATED: 5 cops dead as sniper shoots police at Dallas protest

The transit officer, Brent Thompson, 43, was married only two weeks ago, DART chief James Spiller said on TODAY Friday.

Three suspects were in custody and a fourth suspect was dead after exchanging gunfire with authorities in a parking garage early Friday morning, police said.

The shooters were in elevated positions in parking garages downtown when they began the ambush, police said.

"We're glad that we took down one of the suspects,'' Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told Savannah Guthrie and Willie Geist on TODAY Friday. "We are hopeful that we got everybody but we don't know that for sure."

RELATED: 'Heartbreaking': Dallas police shooting victim Brent Thompson recently married

The suspects in custody have been "tight-lipped,'' according to Rawlings, but it was clear the aim of the shooters was "to kill as many police officers as possible."

Rawlings called the attack "a terrible blow to the city of Dallas."

"They wanted to kill police officers and sadly they did," he told TODAY. "These men that put their lives on the line last night lost them."

The approximately 100 officers working at the protest were not wearing riot gear after deciding to take a friendlier approach to working with protesters. Around 800 people attended the rally.

"We did not have any reason to believe we were going to have something occur of this nature,'' Spiller said.

The protest was held in the wake of police shootings of two black men, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana Tuesday and Philando Castile Wednesday in a St. Paul, Minneapolis, suburb.

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.