The Dallas Police Department pleaded for the public's help with locating a man it believed to be responsible for a fatal ambush on police officers. The police used Twitter to aid in their manhunt for the sniper by tweeting a photo of a person they identified as a suspect about two hours after the shooting began late Thursday.
Five officers died and seven others were injured in the attack. Two other civilians were also hurt.
The tweet, posted just before 11 p.m. Thursday, depicted a photo of Mark Hughes in a camouflage shirt carrying a rifle amid a crowd of peaceful protesters in downtown Dallas with the caption, "This is one of our suspects. Please help us find him!"
"Gun shots rang out. We ran… It was hours later after I had given up my gun, that I had received a phone call that I was now a suspect," Hughes told Craig Melvin of MSNBC. "I didn't understand how I became a suspect."
U.S. & World
Hughes says he was carrying an AR-15 rifle and was "exercising my second amendment right" to bear arms.
Once the shooting started, he gave his gun to police officers and went home. He later received a phone call from a friend who saw his photo on television and so he turned himself in to police. He says he was questioned for about 30 minutes and then cleared as a suspect.
Twitter users rallied behind Hughes, calling on police to delete the tweet. More than 41,000 users retweeted the tweet and 18,000 liked it.
Minutes after the police tweet, @Mari_Mergerson tweeted, "That pic circulating is not the suspect. He's the brother of co-organizer Corey Hughes. He gave the AR-15 to a cop when shooting started."
Replies to the police department's tweet throughout Friday continued to call for them to delete the tweet. The photo remained on the Dallas Police timeline for at least 16 hours before it was deleted late Friday afternoon.
Hughes says he has not received an apology from Dallas Police. NBC has reached out to the police department for comment.
Attorney Corwyn Davis said the Hughes brothers have received thousands of death threats as a result of the tweeted image, according to The Washington Post.
Authorities said Friday afternoon that the killer was Micah Xavier Johnson, a lone gunman. Sources told NBC 5 Investigates Johnson laughed and sang during the standoff with police.
[NATL-DFW] Dramatic Photos: Deadly Sniper Attack in Downtown Dallas
Johnson, an Army veteran, told police during the standoff that he wanted to see white people, particularly police officers, die. The 25-year-old was wounded by gunfire before being killed by a robot outfitted with a bomb, a source told NBC 5 Investigates.