Dallas police killed a sniper suspected of killing five police officers by strapping a bomb to a robot similar to those used by U.S. combat troops and detonated the device.
Police had cornered the Army Reservist for several hours, but attempts to negotiate failed and a gun battle ensued, according to police on Friday.
“We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on it for it to detonate where the suspect was,” Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown said in a press conference Friday morning, according to Business Insider.
“Other options would have exposed our officers to grave danger. The suspect is deceased as a result of the detonating of the bomb.”
The suspect, 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson, served in the U.S. Army Reserve, the Army confirmed to Military.com.
Johnson served as a carpenter and masonry specialist in the Army Reserve from March 2009 to April 2015. He served a tour of duty in Afghanistan from November 2013 to July 2014. It wasn’t clear whether he had received advanced marksmanship training.
Peter Singer, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and an expert on security issues, said on Twitter that he believes this is the “first use of a robot in this way in policing,” the Business Insider reported.
He noted that similar robots have been used in this way by American troops in Iraq.
It’s possible this was not the intended purpose of whatever type of robot police used in this case — Singer speculated that this could be a remote-operated surveillance robot that police rigged with a bomb, according to the Business Insider.
Such robots used in combat are called MARCbots. Singer said troops in Iraq used duct tape to rig mines to these surveillance robots as a way to kill insurgents, presumably without putting troops in direct contact with them.