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arry Gordon could hear the fear in his own voice, and he wondered if the gunman could hear it, too. He needed this guy to know he was heard, feel he was understood.But this had lasted too many hours, and the tension, like the burnt smell of gunfire in the air, was overwhelming. Pain shot through his shoulders and the back of his neck — either from stress, or the weight of his ceramic-plated vest, or both.He usually felt calm, even a little bored, in negotiations.Most involved desperate men with small guns and no real plan.This guy, separated from Gordon by a few dozen feet and a couple of sheetrock walls, had a semiautomatic rifle and a clearly defined endgame. He’d gotten word that one had died, and then another. His job now was to help his colleagues take this guy out — before he killed more of them. By the time the sun rose the next morning, five Dallas cops would be dead.The cops weren’t intervening in some private drama he’d set in motion. He needed to stall and develop a rapport while they worked their plan. This guy was going to charge around the corner and start shooting again, Gordon thought. I don’t know what they’re doing.” Then, Gordon got word. Fathers and husbands and brothers and sons, some of them cut down from behind before they had a chance to fight. The shootings — just down the street from the city’s other notorious shooting, 53 years earlier — would traumatize Dallas, thrusting it into the anguished national argument about race and justice.The way the gunman saw it, he was doing the intervening. In the best of scenarios, Gordon’s aim was to talk people down, coax them out peacefully. He’d finally gotten the man to accept a phone, to be delivered by a robot. News people would storm in from around the world, trying to make sense of what made no sense.

But first, in the darkness and chaos of July 7, 2016, a small group of elite cops had to gear up and get the shooter.This is the first full account of what happened inside El Centro College that night.It is based on documents, photographs and dozens of hours of interviews with the police officers who tracked down the gunman, engaged him in a fierce gun battle, negotiated with him and meticulously planned and carried out his death.For some, the shooter’s motives didn’t warrant consideration. or Flash, a reference to the comic book hero who shared his last name.But for Larry Gordon, he was a harbinger, carrying a message we can no longer afford to ignore. He parked his police Tahoe at the city’s training compound in southwest Dallas, grabbed his ballistic vest and M4 and hustled to meet his SWAT squad on the firing line. It was around noon, time for the team’s quarterly rifle qualification.

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