A gunman opened fire on emergency responders treating a gunshot victim in a Dallas street on Monday, critically injuring a paramedic and prompting police to lock down the area for hours until the suspect — and another person — were found dead inside a home, according to authorities.
The injured Dallas Fire-Rescue paramedic has been identified as William An. On Monday May 8, 2017, Dallas Fire Resuce said that An continues to recover in the hospital and is in stable condition but no longer critical.
Over the weekend An thanked the Dallas Fire Department for all their support and offered words of encourgament saying "Keep doing what you do."
Last week Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said the paramedic will need additional surgeries and extensive medical treatment to fully recover. An is based out of Station 19, where firefighters are highly-trained members of the Urban Search and Rescue Unit.
Members of that crew have been assisting search and rescue efforts after the deadly tornadoes in East Texas. Firefighters from around the department have now volunteered to take their place, so they can be in Dallas to support their colleague.
Dallas police said during a news conference on Monday May 1 the initial shooting in the Dolphin Heights neighborhood was sparked by a dispute between neighbors along the 3200 block of Reynolds Avenue at about 11:30 a.m.
Police said the DFR medic was the first to respond to a shooting call and began providing medical treatment upon arrival. A short time later the medic was under fire.
The gunman, Derick Lamont Brown, fled before holing up in a house where investigators believe he fatally shot another person before killing himself. A police robot found the two bodies after authorities barricaded entrances to the community for several hours to allow officers to scour the neighborhood, Rawlings said.
Interim Police Chief David Pughes said police were still interviewing neighbors and witnesses late Monday, but he said officers on the scene were told "it was just a simple dispute between two neighbors that escalated into a shooting."
Pughes said responding officers found the paramedic and the civilian injured, and "took fire from the suspect as they approached." An officer, later identified as Sgt. Robert Watson, arrived as officers were still maintaining cover — because the shooter was still at large — and rushed in to pull the injured paramedic to safety.
"He went in alone and he pulled the paramedic out, placed him in his squad car and drove him to Baylor hospital," Pughes said. "We believe ... that as a result of those actions, that paramedic's life was saved."
"Right now I would like to focus on the injured paramedic, citizen and community," Watson said in a statement. "They are in need of all our thoughts and prayers as they, their families and friends have been through a lot today."
Rawlings said he was proud of An, an 11-year veteran of the department, and Watson for taking the actions they did.
"The long and the short of this is we had a paramedic that worked diligently and with great vigor to take care of somebody. We had a great police officer that did the same," he said. "Every day, these fire rescue officers and police put their lives on the line. You saw it today."
The neighbor who was shot was also in critical condition late Monday at Parkland Memorial Hospital.
A Dallas police officer who suffered a minor injury in the shooting was treated at the scene and released.
For several hours Monday police described the scene as "active and very dangerous." During that time, officers are believed to have been going door-to-door searching for the suspected gunman. The mood shifted at about 3 p.m. when a number of officers could be seen leaving the area.
At the news conference Monday afternoon, Pughes said officers received a tip the suspected gunman was hiding in a nearby house. Police sent in a robot to have a look and found two bodies, Brown and another unidentified person.
While the medical examiner has not released the name of the second person who died, Johnny Wolf says he lost his close friend.
"He wasn't afraid of anything, and he was, somebody's dark side, that didn't exist to him," Wolf said.
The man's friends said the victim was a peace and social justice activist.
Dozens of police vehicles swarmed the mostly residential area after the shooting was reported.
FBI agents and officers with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also were in unmarked vehicles waiting at intersections in the neighborhood. Officials from the local fire department and parks department passed out water and Gatorade to officers blocking the roads.
Brown's sister, DeKisha Bryant, said this was a sad day for everyone involved.
"Be careful the people that you love. You never know what they're going through. Maybe you could prevent something, maybe," Bryant said.
The Shooter: What We Know
An NBC DFW investigation revealed Brown was the national minister of defense for the New Black Panther Party and once served as the chairman of the organization.
The national head of that club, Babu Omowale, told NBC 5 Investigates that he does not believe Brown's involvement with the club or with the Panthers had anything to do with Monday's shooting.
"He was so passionate towards life, and as long as I have known him have never known him to start an altercation. Now, if you started one with him, he would defend himself to the end, so that's why I am trying to say let the facts come out," Omowale said.
After learning of the shooting, and an unrelated fatal stabbing on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin, Gov. Greg Abbott released the following statement:
“Our prayers go out to all those affected by today’s tragic events. I have been briefed by the Department of Public Safety on both incidents, and have also talked to University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves. As the investigations into these heinous crimes continue, I have offered all available state resources to both Dallas and the University of Texas to assist in any effort,” Abbott said.
The neighborhood where the shooting took place is well-known as one of the more dangerous parts of the city. In 2009, an area nearby was named one of the FBI's most dangerous neighborhoods.
Following the ambush assault on Dallas police officers on July 7, 2016, plans were in place to provide Dallas Fire-Rescue members with ballistic vests and helmets to wear in the field during active situations.
Dallas Fire-Rescue Chief David Coatney said during a news conference Monday that DFR personnel are not issued ballistic vests and they are not carried on rescue units.
NBC 5's Alice Barr, Ashleigh Barry, Scott Gordon, Ken Kalthoff and Noelle Walker, and The Associated Press' Claudia Lauer contributed to this report.