Wildly divergent accounts of Dallas shooter’s rifle circulate

As official statements have excluded one of the most hot-button pieces of information, some have leapt at the opportunity to fill in the blanks with often agenda-driven speculation.

Last Thursday’s tragic fatal shooting of five law enforcement officers in Dallas during a planned peaceful protest ended when police dispatched the suspect using explosives. While news reports at the time reports referenced sniper rifles and multiple shooters, police have subsequently isolated their focus to a single gunman. However, authorities have officially been mum on the weapon used other than the fact he was armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun.

This led to quick speculation from a New York-based ABC affiliate that the gun used was likely an AR-15 with former NYPD sergeant and FBI special agent Manuel Gomez telling the outlet that, “The AR-15 Assault weapon is the preferred weapon of these mass killers.”

The Huffington Post’s resident gun politics writer, Mike Weisser, likewise pointed fingers at the AR-15 in his blog.

“There’s been no confirmation yet out of Dallas, but I’ll bet you that the murder weapon used in yesterday attacks was an AR-15 assault rifle, or some variation on the theme, like the Sig-Sauer rifle that mowed down over 100 people inside The Pulse,” wrote Weisser.

Beginning Friday, CNN, CBS and the LA Times all listed the gun used by the suspect as an SKS rifle. In each case, the outlets attributed the information to unnamed officials not authorized to make statements but familiar with the latest from the Dallas police investigation as their source.

Then the New York Times on Saturday named Clay Jenkins, Dallas County’s chief executive and director of homeland security and emergency management, as stating the gunman had used an SKS.

These reports – that a 1945-era rifle with a fixed 10-shot magazine that is legal virtually everywhere and specifically exempted from even very strict new federal assault weapon ban proposals by name had been used – sparked commentary from conservative and pro-gun blogs decrying the revelation did not fit a political agenda of banning so-called “black rifles.”

Subsequently, on Sunday, The Arms Guide published graphic and anonymous images purporting to show the aftermath of the explosion in Dallas in which the suspect was killed, complete with a photo of a Russian-made Izhmash Saiga IZ240 rifle with some aftermarket modifications.

The IZ240 is a semi-auto only variant of the AK-74 and both are banned by name under pending “assault weapon” legislation.

As for the official word, Guns.com has reached out repeatedly to the Dallas Police Department who has not responded.

Ginger Colbrun, public affairs chief for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told Guns.com Saturday that, “We are not discussing the guns at this point in the investigation.”

This is a developing story.