CNN host Fredricka Whitfield has addressed the controversy surrounding on-air comments she made during coverage of the shooting at Dallas Police headquarters, saying she "misspoke."
“Yesterday, during a segment on the Dallas Police Department attack, I used the words 'courageous' and 'brave' when discussing the gunman. I misspoke," Whitfield told viewers on Sunday. "I in no way believe the gunman was courageous nor brave."
Officials said the gunman, identified as James Boulware, planted pipe bombs outside police headquarters and opened fire on police from an armored van — leading to a standoff that ended when he was shot and killed by a police sniper.
During the standoff, Whitfield and CNN legal analyst Philip Holloway were discussing the possibility Boulware had not acted alone.
“It was very courageous and brave, if not crazy as well, to open fire on the police headquarters," Whitfield said. "And now you have this scene, this standoff. So you believe these are the hallmarks of more than one person’s involvement.”
Not surprisingly, the comments sparked an immediate backlash on social media, where many users — including the Fort Worth Police Officers Association — called on Whitfield to apologize.
"Courageous and brave" to shoot at police officers with an assault rifle. Get a clue and WAKE UP!https://t.co/I1hYFlfpv4— HPOU (@HPOUTX) June 13, 2015
Whitfield, though, stopped short of issuing a formal apology.
Boulware's father, Jim, told the Associated Press that his son was mentally unstable and angry with police after losing custody of his child, and that the family had tried to get him medical help but were unsuccessful.
The suspect's brother, Andrew Boulware, accused authorities of ignoring the family's pleas for help.
"They diagnosed him as 'sane' in 15 minutes," he said, adding: "I didn't honestly think that he would ever go this far, but it was always in the back of my mind that it was a possibility."
"We tried to get him mental help numerous times, but the system failed him," Boulware's mother, Jeanine Howard, said in the statement to local media. "He was very delusional. It was very obvious."