The first shots were fired just before 9 p.m. A protest against deadly shootings by police was winding down in Dallas, with demonstrators making their way back to their cars, when officers heard the initial burst of gunfire. By the time it was over, five police officers had been killed, several others were injured and a lone gunman was dead after a standoff with officers.
The Dallas ambush was the deadliest day for law enforcement since Sept. 11, 2001. That bloodshed, coupled with another attack days later in Baton Rouge, helped fuel an increase this year in the number of police officers slain in the line of duty, a tally pushed upward by a surge in ambush attacks and other shootings.
Gunfire was the common factor in nearly half of all police deaths in 2016. So far this year, 64 police officers have been killed in shootings, up from 41 at the same point last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit group that monitors line-of-duty deaths.
Nearly 1 in 3 officers fatally shot was killed in what the group called ambush attacks, including the high-profile assaults in Dallas and Baton Rouge that left eight officers dead and shook law enforcement nationwide.
The surge in officers killed by gunfire this year is the largest on record, up 56 percent over last year, the memorial fund’s data shows. That highlights a stark fact that has come into shape in recent years: Guns are increasingly the cause of line-of-duty deaths, according to an analysis of the memorial fund’s data. Nearly…
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