Ben Russell, NBC 5 News
Things are calm in a south Dallas neighborhood a day after a police-involved shooting -- but there are still many questions to be answered according to residents.
Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday evening in a South Dallas neighborhood after a man was killed in an officer-involved shooting.
An angry crowd formed around crime scene tape that was stretched along the perimeter near the crime scene at Bourquin Street at about 6 p.m. The crowd had visibly thinned less than three hours later.
The shooting was reported near Mural Lane and Barber Avenue at about 5 p.m.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown said in a press conference Tuesday night that Officer Brian Rowden shot James Harper, 31, during a physical fight while Harper was trying to flee.
Brown said the angry reaction in the neighborhood was caused by misinformation about the shooting, such as rumors that Harper had been shot in the back and that he had marijuana.
The initial investigation indicates that Harper was shot in the stomach and hand, but the medical examiner will determine where Harper was shot, Brown said.
The police chief also said Harper had a lengthy arrest record and described him as a drug dealer.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Dallas Police Department said they would not be releasing calls to 911 at this time as they may have "potential evidentiary value." A synopsis of the event, according to the DPD, was published to their Facebook page and can be read here.
Brown: Officer Fired in Fear of His Life
Brown said three officers arrived at a South Dallas home in response to what he said was likely a bogus 911 call.
The caller said a man had been kidnapped and taken to the house. Brown said the call could have been made by a rival drug gang and that Dallas police had been caught in the middle of a drug feud.
"I don't doubt that this was bogus and that this was some rivalry, and that we got in the middle of it -- being drawn in through this bogus reasoning," he said. "This 911 call doesn't make sense, the way it came out."
Neighbors told police the house is a known drug house. Police found crack cocaine in the house, the front yard and the side of the house, Brown said.
When the officers arrived at the house, they heard people trying to leave and pursued four people on foot. Rowden chased Harper through an alley and over three fences, Brown said.
Rowden and Harper engaged in three separate physical fights, Brown said. A neighbor who witnessed the altercations called 911 to report that a man was fighting with a police officer.
Brown said Rowden was out of energy and clinging to Harper, who was beating him and allegedly said, "You're going to have to kill me." Brown said Rowden was losing the fight and, in fear for his life, pulled out his weapon and shot Harper.
Officers saw a gun in the house and believed that someone in the home grabbed it but they did not know who took it, Brown said. Police have not found a gun on Harper and do not believe officers were fired upon, he said.
One other person who fled the house surrendered to police.
Brown said Harper had a lengthy criminal record, including multiple drug arrests. Officers found a wad of cash in his pocket, Brown said.
Dallas police have seen a "significant increase" in assaults on officers by suspects, Brown said. There have been 100 assaults so far this year. At this point last year, the department saw 88 such assaults.
Angry Crowd Forms After Shooting
Several hundred people gathered about a block from the scene of the shooting at about 6 p.m.
Dozens of officers formed a line blocking people from entering the area. Police in full riot gear were in the area, but officers did not use any of their weapons on the crowd.
A couple of fistfights broke out in the crowd, but no physical altercations were reported between the crowd and officers.
Some of the people in the crowd said they were there because they could not get home because of the streets that were blocked by police.
Members of Harper's family lined the police caution tape. At times, family members screamed at police and cried.
Harper's mother spoke to NBC 5 minutes after she learned of her son's death.
"They could have just winged him, Lord, but they killed him," Sandra Harper said. "I ain't got no son no more."
She told NBC 5 her son was shot in the back. However, Brown said it appeared James Harper had been shot in the stomach and hand.
Pastors and community leaders worked to calm the tension. The crowd had thinned by 8 p.m., and most of the crowd had dispersed by 10 p.m.
Councilman Dwaine Caraway vowed there would be full investigation into the shooting.
"Under the circumstances, emotions are very high out here," he said. "And for everyone's safety, we need to first allow the police to do their job to try to bring peace and calm to this community so that the family can do what they need to do, what they should be able to do, and that's grieve their loss."
Caraway said there are obviously some ongoing tensions in the area that need to be addressed. One woman interrupted him and said that they have tried talking before and that nobody has listened.
Dallas police shut down Dixon Avenue at Scyene Road to stop inbound traffic because too many onlookers were pouring into the area, and many streets remained blocked late Tuesday night.
The massive police presence pulled out of the area Tuesday night. Dallas police officers continue patrolling the streets in teams of two.
NBC 5's Greg Janda, Ellen Goldberg, Scott Gordon and Ben Russell contributed to this report.