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Inside the deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since 9/11

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Sgt. Ivan Gunter leads a special team of police officers called the Foxtrots in the Southwest Patrol Division of the Dallas Police Department. (Cooper Neill for The Washington Post)

DALLAS — Sgt. Ivan Gunter climbed the stairs, sweating beneath a ceramic-plated tactical vest, his finger resting beside the trigger of his 9mm handgun. He could hear the suspect’s muffled voice above, between thunderous cracks of gunfire.

Gunter, 49, led a specially trained team of nine Dallas police officers called the Foxtrots. In the July twilight, beneath the city’s skyscrapers, a gunman had taken aim at his officers as they stood along Main Street policing a protest rally. One fell, then a second, and a third. After helping to drag one of his wounded men into a patrol car, Gunter followed the gunman’s trail of broken glass and blood.

As sirens wailed across downtown, Gunter paused in a stairwell of El Centro College. He was part of a small group of police officers closing in on the shooter.

“Hold your positions,” a supervisor ordered over the radio. Gunter crouched in the stairwell, waiting. After a few minutes, his cellphone buzzed.

“Where you at, Gunter? You okay?” asked Sgt. Alan Villarreal, a longtime friend, calling from the hospital. He spoke the names of two of Gunter’s Foxtrots.

“Pat and Krol — they didn’t make it.”

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