Mark Hughes has been identified as a suspect in the Dallas police shooting, though there are reports that the gun-toting protester had nothing to do with the attack that left at least 11 officers shot and four killed.
The shooting took place during a protest of recent police killings nationwide, with shots ringing out during an otherwise peaceful protest in downtown Dallas. The shootings reportedly came from two snipers who authorities said were in “elevated positions” above the street.
Dallas police shared a picture of an alleged suspect, a black man wearing camouflage and carrying a long gun who was identified as Mark Hughes. Mark’s brother, Cory Hughes, was an organizer of the protest.
In an interview with CBS News, the brother of Mark Hughes claimed that Mark had nothing to do with the shooting and even turned his weapon in to police shortly after the shooting started.
“That’s my little brother, that’s not the suspect,” Cory Hughes told a reporter. “When people started shooting, I found my little brother and I made him give his gun to an officer.”
As best as we can tell right now, Mark Hughes just so happened to be a black man exercising his 2nd amendment, open carry rights in #Dallas.— Jodeci Foster (@CharlesPulliam) July 8, 2016
Cory Hughes left the interview abruptly as officers came to speak with him. Cory later tweeted that he and his brother were with police.
@BrianKJRH my brother and I are at the Dallas Police Station now! Please let the world Know he had nothing to do with this.— Cory L. Hughes (@CoryLHughes) July 8, 2016
There seemed to be other evidence that Mark Hughes may have not been involved in the shooting. Another witness, identified only as Jade, told CBS News that she was with Hughes during the protest and that they were with a crowd that began running with the shots started.
She confirmed the statement from Mark’s brother that Mark turned his gun over to a police officer as the shooting was taking place.
Other video from the aftermath of the shooting appeared to show Mark Hughes walking on the street, not in the position where officers said the shots came from.
The "suspect" In Dallas can be seen in this video NOT shooting! I think this is not the guy. pic.twitter.com/kRt45w7JdP— TimMorehouse (@TimMorehouse) July 8, 2016
Mark Hughes was one of a number of protesters carrying long guns at the event. Texas has open carry laws, and some protesters carried guns to honor Philando Castile, a Minnesota man killed Wednesday during a traffic stop with police. Castile had reportedly told the officer that he had a legally owned gun in the car, and Castile’s girlfriend said the officer opened fire when Castile reached for his driver’s license.
A report from CBS News seemed to confirm that Mark Hughes was in discussion with authorities and may have turned himself in. Police appeared to confirm this in an update on Twitter late on Thursday, but did not identify Hughes by name. The update noted that a second suspect was also taken into custody following a shootout with SWAT officers.
In a news conference held early Friday morning, Dallas police said that as many as four people were involved with the shooting, and that one was in a standoff with police. The suspect reportedly warned that the “end is near” and that there were many bombs planted around downtown Dallas. The suspect also promised more violence against police officers.
There have been conflicting reports as to whether Mark Hughes was ever officially identified as a suspect in the Dallas police shootings. Though some media outlets identified him as a suspect, police later referred to him as a “person of interest.”
Mark Hughes himself later said that he was already talking with police officers at the time his picture was circulating online.
Looking back, Hughes said he was in just as much danger as the police officers who were killed.
“I can’t believe it,” Mark Hughes told KTVT. “I can’t believe it. The crazy thing about it is that, I was down here, I couldn’t get down to my vehicle because of the roadblock. And in hindsight, 20/20, I could have easily been shot.”
[Image via Dallas Police Department]