For the first time, a Dallas SWAT officer is talking publicly about the life-or-death firefight with the man who killed five police officers in the July 7, 2016, ambush.
Matt Banes was among the SWAT members who responded to the "officer down" call.
He says he was working a high-crime beat about two miles away from El Centro College when he rushed to the scene, ending up at El Centro, where the shooter, Micah Johnson, was hiding.
U.S. & World
"There was gun smoke. You could smell it and see the smoke in the air," Banes recalled.
Banes says he followed Johnson's blood trail to the second floor of the college.
"He probably fired 17 rounds at us, and that's when I realized how close he was to us," Banes said.
He says Johnson was about 30 feet away down a hallway.
Banes took cover around a corner.
"When I did the reload, he says, 'Man, I love that sound,'" Banes recalled.
The 30 minutes that followed, he says, still seem surreal.
Between gunfire, Banes says Johnson quoted scriptures, sang the song "Proud Mary," and even cracked jokes.
"He was so committed to death and at the same time he seemed like he was, seemed like he might have been someone you can sit down and have a beer with," Banes said.
Banes said the longer they talked, he realized how skilled and heavily armed Johnson was. He knew the standoff was not going to end peacefully.
"I asked him, 'Are you police? Are you an officer?' And he says, 'Hell no, I'm not a cop. How many of you pigs have I killed?'" Banes explained.
Banes told him "none," but it was a lie. He knew officers had already been killed.
"You know I wasn't going to give him any sort of satisfaction, so I told him I don't think you've got any of us, but he knew better than that," Banes said.
Through it all, Banes says he never lost sight of the objective: ending the standoff.
He even offered Johnson water and help from a doctor.
"He refused. He said, 'No, this ends in death,'" Banes said.
Banes says Johnson asked for a cell phone.
Instead, police sent in a robot with a bomb hidden inside a book.
When the bomb went off, "My reaction was just relief, victory, some things I can't say on camera for sure," Banes said.
Banes has since left the SWAT unit to focus on his family, he says.
He now trains narcotics officers for the Dallas Police Department.
He was awarded the Medal of Honor by the Dallas Police Department, one of 14 officers to receive the prestigious award.
Prior to the ambush, just 28 officers had received the award since it was established in 1952.
Banes says he waited to talk publicly about the night of the ambush because the investigation was ongoing.