Governors of Va., Md. respond to Dallas shootings

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — With police across the nation on alert following the deaths of five officers in an apparent sniper-style shooting Dallas, the governors of Virginia and Maryland are calling the deaths tragedies.

“Thoughts and prayers out to the families, you think of these five police officers, their families, what they’re waking up (to) today, what a tragedy,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe told reporters Friday morning.

“This is a tragedy what happened down in Dallas, and it is a tragedy from what I’ve seen happened in Minnesota and Louisiana,” he said.

Alton Sterling, 37, was shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this week, and Philando Castile, 32, was shot in the St. Paul, Minnesota, suburb of Falcon Heights. Circumstances surrounding both shootings were caught on video.

The police officers shot in Dallas were killed as a peaceful protest over those shootings was winding down.

“We in this nation (have) got to move forward, we’ve got to have reconciliation,” McAuliffe said.

“We have got to protect our law enforcement officers. We’ve got to protect the civil liberties of individuals. We have got to be able to do this in a way that everybody’s personal safety is protected, their civil liberties are protected, but your heart goes out to all of these families.”

Virginia State Police and the governor are discussing whether any new steps are required locally.

“We’re cognizant of what goes on around the nation, and let’s be clear, any state, these things can happen, and what we try to do is the training,” McAuliffe said.

“From a state’s perspective, we need to always make sure we’re putting the necessary resources out for training, to make sure they have the adequate pay, but also to make sure that — and we do it here in Virginia — we respect the individual rights of our citizens and we protect everybody. That is their job to protect communities,” the Democrat added.

McAuliffe, a gun owner, said he believes there should be additional barriers to gun purchases.

“There are too many guns in this country today. This is something I’ve long advocated: we need background checks, there are individuals in this nation who should not possess firearms,” he said.

Republican Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell said in a statement that last night’s “senseless violence is inexcusable.” The statement described the deaths of the officers as brutal murders in the line of duty.

“Violence against law enforcement is no way to mourn the tragic loss of life in Louisiana and Minnesota and no way to further the dialogue our nation needs. America is unique because of its ability to resolve differences through political and judicial institutions instead of resorting to violence,” Howell said.

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan also expressed his condolences.

“This morning, I share in the grief and heartbreak that burdens members of our law enforcement community as well as millions of Americans across the country. Yesterday’s senseless violence and the shocking death of five police officers in Dallas was a tragedy unlike anything our country has witnessed in recent years,” Hogan said in a statement.

Hogan, a Republican, said that he is sending out “sincere thoughts and prayers” the those killed in the line of duty and those recovering.

“In Maryland and across the country, the obvious tensions between communities and law enforcement are real and cannot be ignored or swept under the rug. But there is so much more that unites us than divides us. Now is clearly a time for profound sorrow, but also for reflection, understanding and above all, compassion,” Hogan said.

Attorney General Lynch’s statement on the shooting in Dallas:

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