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Dallas residents respond to ‘eerie quiet’ of shooting aftermath with shock, sadness

Noelle Hendrix places flowers near the scene of a shooting in downtown Dallas, Friday, July 8, 2016. Snipers opened fire on police officers in the heart of Dallas during protests over two recent fatal police shootings of black men. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Noelle Hendrix places flowers near the scene of a shooting in downtown Dallas, Friday, July 8, 2016. Snipers opened fire on police officers in the heart of Dallas during protests over two recent fatal police shootings of black men. (AP Photo/LM Otero)  (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribu)

Residents say they are still in shock and worried about their safety after last night's police shooting that left five officers dead and nine others wounded.

"I can't believe it," said Maria Alvarez, an employee with Jefferson Bridal and Quinceñera, a shop in the mostly Hispanic neighborhood of Oak Cliff, a few minutes from the city's downtown.

The store is two doors down from the Texas Theatre, the infamous location where another gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, was arrested after assassinating President John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963.

The irony isn't lost on residents who noted that last night's shooting took place a mere block from where the Kennedy assassination occurred.

Alvarez drives through downtown on her way to work, and she said the usually bustling area was eerily quiet.

"Today, nothing," said Alvarez, whose husband was working at a downtown bar when the shooting started. She called him know and told him to be careful.

"I was crying," said Alvarez. "My heart is for the officers."

Next door at BB Nails, women sat silent in massage chairs, their eyes glued to the continuing news coverage on a store TV.

"I have to go downtown today," said Cassie Fitzpatrick who is also a student at El Centro College where the shooter, Micah X. Johnson, engaged police in a standoff before being killed.

Fitzpatrick said she and other students had discussed the possibility of an active shooter on campus but to see it happen, she said, "It's crazy."

"I'm just praying for the families on both sides," said Fitzpatrick who described the feeling in Dallas today as "cold" though the heat index shows temperatures are expected to reach over 100 degrees today.

At Joyeria Lopez, owner Alberto Lopez, a 40-year Dallas resident and himself a licensed gun owner, said he can't quite fathom why someone would intentionally kill police.

"I cry for, my God, for everybody," said Lopez.

Lopez tells his children to respect the police, to be careful, but the scenes last night and the eerie quiet of the city he said, clutching his chest, "impactante."

Joanna Cattanach is a freelancer based in Dallas, Texas.

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