EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Law enforcement official tells AP at least 15 dead in El Paso attack and suspect is 21-year-old Patrick Crusius.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, multiple people were taken into custody. Since then, police have identified the suspect as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, who appears to have graduated from Plano High School in 2017, and who turned 21 last week. By late afternoon on Saturday, a racist “manifesto” indicating a desire to kill immigrants and reportedly penned by the shooter began circulating on social media.
Pages of the manifesto included anti-immigrant rhetoric with the author going into depth on why he is “against race mixing,” supports the idea to “send them back” and offering a prediction of “genocide.”
Speaking to reporters, El Paso police Sgt. Robert Gomez said there likely would be more deaths to report later, but he could not yet confirm them. He said most of the shootings happened at a Walmart at the shopping complex and that the store was at capacity with as many as 3,000 people during the busy back-to-school shopping season.
“This is unprecedented in El Paso,” Gomez said.
Police responded in the mid-morning to an active shooter scene at the Cielo Vista Mall, near Interstate 10 on the east side of the city, and were advising people to stay away from the area and to look for missing family members at a school being used as a reunification area.
The mass shooting in El Paso came less than a week after a gunman opened fire on a California food festival. Santino William Legan, 19, killed three people and injured 13 others last Sunday at the popular Gilroy Garlic Festival, and died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Ryan Mielke, a spokesman for University Medical Center of El Paso, said 12 people were brought to the hospital with injuries, including one that died. Two of the injured were children who were being transferred to El Paso Children’s Hospital, he said. He declined to provide additional details on the victims.
Eleven other victims were being treated at Del Sol Medical Center, according to hospital spokesman Victor Guerrero. He said those victims ages ranged from 35 to 82.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the shooting “a heinous and senseless act of violence” and said the state had deployed a number of law enforcement officers to the city.
A family of three was among a dozen people waiting outside a bus station. They were trying to return to their car that was in a blocked-off Walmart parking lot.
“I heard the shots but I thought they were hits, like roof construction,” said Adriana Quezada, 39, who was in the women’s clothing section of Walmart with her two children.
Quezada said she saw four men, dressed in black, moving together firing guns indiscriminately. Police confirmed only one gunman.
Quezada’s 19-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son threw themselves to the ground, then ran out of the Walmart through an emergency exit. She said they were not hurt.
Police said by midafternoon that a suspect was in custody and the public was no longer in danger. Gomez said the suspect, who used a rifle, was arrested without incident. Police believe he was the “sole shooter” but are continuing to investigate reports that others were involved.
White House staff said President Donald Trump was briefed on the shooting and spoke about it with Attorney General William Barr and Gov. Abbott. “Reports are very bad, many killed,” the president tweeted.
Presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke appeared a bit shaken as he appeared at a candidate forum Saturday in Las Vegas shortly after news of the shooting in his hometown was reported.
O’Rourke, who said he had called his wife before taking the stage, said the shooting shatters “any illusion that we have that progress is inevitable” on tackling gun violence.
The Democrat said he heard early reports that the shooter might have had a military-style weapon, saying we need to “keep that (expletive) on the battlefield and do not bring it into our communities.”
“We have to find some reason for optimism and hope or else we consign ourselves to a future where nearly 40,000 people a year will lose their lives to gun violence and I cannot accept that,” O’Rourke said.
El Paso, which has about 680,000 residents, is in West Texas and sits across the border from Juarez, Mexico.
Heidgerd reporting from Dallas. Associated Press writer Martha Irvine contributed from Chicago.