But he also was enraged with police shootings of black men around the country, he told negotiators during a tense standoff, and he “had very strong feelings about being black,” a former co-worker said.
Authorities are now investigating whether Johnson was directed by the militant groups he “liked” on social media — including the African-American Defense League, the Black Riders Liberation Party, the Huey P. Newton Gun Club and the New Black Panther Party — or merely emboldened by them.
It’s unclear if Johnson was merely a follower or a more active participant of those groups.
Babu Omowale, co-founder of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, a black militia that performs armed community patrols in Dallas, said Johnson attended black community events in Dallas.
Omowale told Reuters that he did not personally know Johnson but recognized him from group events.
“He wasn’t a stranger to us,” Omowale said.
On Facebook, however, co-founder Yafeuh Balogun appeared to praise Johnson’s actions, writing Sunday, “He shall be celebrated one day.” People who replied called Johnson a hero who stood up to injustice.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Balogun posted, “I have no remorse for the Dallas Police Officers shot downtown, it’s about time.”
The militia’s co-founder wasn’t alone in that sentiment.
After the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota last week, black militant groups and others quickly called for people to seek vengeance against police.
And Dallas’ officers weren’t the only ones in the crosshairs.