By Lisa Maria Garza
DALLAS (Reuters) - A man who attacked the headquarters of the Dallas Police Department with gunfire and explosives early on Saturday was found dead inside a van after a standoff that ended when police snipers shot him, authorities said.
The hours-long drama began soon after midnight when the suspect riddled police headquarters with bullets and left behind at least two devices in duffle bags that later exploded, police said. The attack shattered windows and left bullet holes in the building's walls and in squad cars parked outside.
The assailant, driving what police said appeared to be an armored van, then rammed a patrol car and led police on a high-speed chase to a fast-food restaurant in Hutchins, about 10 miles (16 km) south of the city, where he was later killed.
The assailant was believed to have acted alone, motivated by personal grievances, and he had no known connection to any terrorist groups, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said.
No one except the suspect was injured or killed in the assault, although a barrage of gunfire narrowly missed some officers and staff, the chief said.
"I believe we're blessed that our officers survived this ordeal," Brown told reporters. "We literally dodged a bullet."
Dallas resident Ben Sotheby, 56, watched the scene of the earlier gunfire from behind the barricades as police patrolled the area near headquarters.
"It wasn't real smart to shoot up the place where all the cops are at. You'll get yourself killed that way," he said.
The suspect, who police said had earlier threatened to kill officers, appeared to be a man who had blamed authorities for losing custody of his son, now a middle school student, the Dallas Morning News reported.
After the van was cornered in the restaurant parking lot, sporadic negotiations between police and the suspect ensued but the talks soon came to a standstill, prompting a move to disable the van by piercing its engine block with rifle fire. Police snipers then shot the suspect through the windshield of the van.
Hours later, live television images showed police conducting a controlled explosion targeting the van. Officers then approached the vehicle, and an announcement the suspect was dead came a few minutes later.
Brown said the man police negotiators had spoken with inside the van had identified himself as James Boulware. A check of public records shows that Boulware has faced several criminal charges including assault on family members.
As the incident unfolded, two devices exploded outside the police headquarters. The first was a pipe bomb that went off when a police robot attempted to move it. A second device, placed under a police vehicle, was detonated by a bomb squad.
There was no indication that the attack was connected in any way to a recent series of anti-police demonstrations triggered by deadly confrontations between officers and unarmed black men.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Additional reporting by Lisa Lambert in Wasington and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Frank McGurty and Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Tom Brown)