DALLAS—The man linked to a violent assault on Dallas police headquarters was accused two years earlier of choking his mother, then fleeing to an East Texas town where schools were locked down out of fear he would attack them as “soft targets,” according to accounts from police and family members.
Police said the suspect, who planted pipe bombs outside the headquarters and fired at officers early Saturday from his armored van, told them he was James Boulware. He was killed hours later by a police sniper, and the medical examiner still hadn’t officially confirmed the man’s identity on Sunday.
In interviews with The Associated Press, Boulware’s father recalled his son’s seething anger at police after losing custody of his child, and his brother recalled that the family’s attempts to get Boulware help were rebuffed.
“We had tried for two years,” his brother, Andrew Boulware, said Sunday. “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.”
Authorities say it was miraculous no one else was injured in Saturday’s attack, in which the gunman sprayed the front of the building with gunfire just after midnight. After opening fire, the suspect drove the armored van into a squad car, still firing, then led police on a chase to a restaurant parking lot in the suburb of Hutchins. The police sniper shot him during the standoff, but it took several hours to confirm his death out of fear that he had loaded his van with more explosives.
Police on Sunday said they had put 14 officers involved in the incident on administrative leave pending an investigation.
Boulware was arrested for family violence in Dallas two years ago, in a case that was later dismissed. According to a Dallas police report, a witness says Boulware was in his mother’s house and “began talking rudely about religion, Jews, and Christians.” The report says Boulware then grabbed his mother by the neck for 2 to 3 seconds until a third person could pull him off. The two men fought until Boulware left the house.
The police report says he was then reported the same day to be in Paris, Texas, about 100 miles away, where he grabbed weapons and body armor and talked about “shooting up schools and churches.” Andrew Boulware and his father, Jim, confirmed the incident.
Andrew Boulware accused authorities in Dallas of ignoring family members’ statements that James was mentally unstable.
“They diagnosed him as sane in 15 minutes,” Boulware said.
He remembers James claiming that he had dreamed about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and other disasters before they had happened. He also remembers pleading with James Boulware to get medical help, and going to a local official but being ignored.
“He never was properly diagnosed,” Andrew Boulware said. “He could be the nicest guy in the world. He tried to help friends out whenever he could. He was not a bitter person.”
His mother, Jeannine Howard, said in a statement to local media that she considered her son “lost to mental health” long before his death.
“We tried to get him mental help numerous times, but the system failed him, because he was declared ‘sane,'” she said in the statement. “He was very delusional. It was very obvious.
“We hope something good can come from this, and that people will reach out to hurting souls around them and unite to build up others, rather than tearing them down,” she added. “We hope that people with mental illness will receive the care they need to avoid situations like this in the future.”
Boulware lost custody of his son, something that his father, Jim, said weighed on him deeply and caused him to distrust police.
The day before the shooting, Boulware spent several hours at his father’s home in the Dallas suburb of Carrollton. He was talking about the armored van he had just purchased days earlier, having taken a bus to Georgia to pick it up and drive it back.
He also talked about the police, including his reaction to a widely watched video of a white police officer in McKinney, Texas, pushing down a black teenage girl at a pool party.
“He made statements while he was here that the police are the ones that took his son away from him,” Jim Boulware said.
But Jim Boulware said he didn’t know what was to come. His son left the house that day, suggesting he was driving out to West Texas and planning to sleep in the van.
Andrew Boulware said he hadn’t seen his brother in more than two years. He remembers James Boulware living in a home in Paris without electricity and tried to help him, but was rebuffed.
“I went back out there after he got released and I brought him a box of food, and he said, ‘Get off my property,’ and so I did,” he said. “I tried to call him three or four times after that, but he never did answer.”