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Dallas Police Ambush

Horrified’: Latinos Denounce Shootings of Dallas Police, Call for Peace

Image:A Dallas police officer covers his face

A Dallas police officer covers his face as he stands with others outside the emergency room at Baylor University Medical Center, Friday, after snipers opened fire on police officers in the heart of the city. Tony Gutierrez / AP

In the wake of the ambush of Dallas police that left five officers dead and seven injured, Latino lawmakers and community leaders are condemning the attack and calling for peace.

Domingo Garcia, the first Latino elected Mayor Pro Term for the city of Dallas, said he wholeheartedly condemns the shooting. In his time on Dallas City Council, he strengthened the powers of the civilian police review board. Garcia, a former state representative, is a longtime community activist who has participated in various protests in the city, including a recent one staged in opposition to Donald Trump and his visit to the city.

"In my time in city council I chaired the Public Safety Committee, and dealt with police violence with civilians," Garcia said. "I also oversaw the Dallas Police Department, so I have seen it from both sides. I thought we had done some significant police reforms in my time, and that the police has a good relationship with the black and Latino communities."

At least one of the officers was Latino.

Watch Dallas Cops Salute Their Fallen Brethren 0:32

Garcia said when he heard the news of the attack on police officers, he immediately thought of Mahatma Gandhi's quote, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. He said the violence in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Minneapolis do not justify the murder of police officers.

"Things like this create flash points of tension," Garcia said, also citing riots in Dallas after the police killing of Santos Rodriguez in July 1973. "Since then, there have been several instances that we have had to work on improving relationships between the community and police."

Monica Alonza, Mayor Pro Tem for Dallas, said she has worked to lower crime rates in the city, and one way she does that is by fostering conversations between Dallas police and her constituents at neighborhood crime watch meetings. She said in the weeks after this shooting, she hopes community members continue to be the "eyes and ears" for the police.

"As a council member, it is not just my responsibility to take care of the city, it is on all of us," Alonza said in an interview with NBC Latino while traveling to a memorial service for the fallen officers. "The constituency, whether it is neighborhood watch or business owners, have to continue to give the police the support they need to help. The Dallas Police Department is very active in our neighborhoods, so yes, we are mourning, but we are joining forces and moving forward."

RELATED: Dallas Suspect Was Upset About Recent Police Shootings, 'Wanted to Kill White People'

U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro, D-Texas, released a statement saying his thought and prayers are with the families of the officers who were shot while protecting a peaceful protest and directing traffic.

"This has been a very painful week for our nation. Love and respect are vital to our country's healing," Castro said. "Now is a time to come together, to talk to one another, and to pray for one another as we strive for understanding and peace."

Castro joined other members of the Texas congressional delegation at the well of the U.S. House of Representatives to lead a moment of silence for the officers shot in the ambush.

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., said in a statement that she is "horrified by the atrocious ambush and vicious murders of police officers." She said she grieves for those killed and their families, and urged that the shootings not be answered with more violence.

"Every day our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to protect the public," Sanchez said. "This is the deadliest day for law enforcement since 9/11. It's especially chilling that these officers were shot in the line of duty while they were protecting the right of citizens to peacefully demonstrate."

A DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) police officer receives comfort at Baylor University Hospital emergency room entrance on July 7, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. Ting Shen / The Dallas Morning News via AP

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, echoed Sanchez's sentiment in a radio interview with Glenn Beck. Cruz said the activists had every right to gather and exercise their First Amendment rights, then added, "Nobody has a right to commit murder."

"And when it comes to condemning acts of violence, whether it is the targeted murder of police officers or whether it is, just a few weeks ago, a self-professed ISIS terrorist murdering 49 people and wounding another 50 in Orlando, murder is wrong," Cruz said. "And it should not be a partisan issue. It should be an issue that brings us together united as Americans and united as men and women and brothers and sisters that protect and stand up for each other."

State Representatives and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus took to social media to call for unity between Democrats and Republicans, but also between races.

Four Dallas Area Rapid Transit officers were shot, one killed, after the protest Thursday. A memorial for fallen officer Brent Thompson, 43, has been posted on their website, along with gratitude for all those reaching out.

RELATED: Dallas Police Ambush Victim Brent Thompson 'Served Admirably'

"As you can imagine, our hearts are broken," the message reads. "This is something that touches every part of our organization. We have received countless expressions of support and sympathy from around the world through the evening. We are grateful for every message."

Miguel Solis, the president of Latino Center for Leadership, said the "mindless menace of violence reared its head again," in Dallas. Solis, who is currently on a trip in Mexico, sent a text message to NBC Latino expressing his condolences for the families of the officers lost and injured in the shooting.

"The leaders of our city understand the critical role immigrants play in our society," Solis, a board member of the Dallas Independent School District, said. "We have taken proactive steps to ensure a welcoming environment and will continue to do so. Our police force, led by our phenomenal chief, David Brown, have done a tremendous job building relationships with all communities."

NBC's Darek Wajda assisted with this story.

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