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Horror in El Paso: 20 Dead, 26 Wounded in Mass Shooting at Walmart

Police say the suspect is a white male in his 20s from the Dallas area who was arrested without incident. Police are investigating whether it was a hate crime.

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A couple console each other near an El Paso Walmart where a mass shooting occurred Saturday. Photo credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune

EL PASO — A mass shooting at a Walmart in this border city killed 20 people and left more than two dozen others injured Saturday, and police arrested a 21-year-old North Texas man who police said may have written a manifesto revealing that the crime was racially motivated.

Sgt. Robert Gomez with the El Paso Police Department said police arrested the man without incident near the Walmart next to Interstate 10 on the east side of the city. Gomez did not identify the man, but CNN and other news outlets, citing multiple sources, have identified him as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius of Allen, north of Dallas — more than 650 miles from El Paso.

Gomez said police don’t believe there were other shooters — but he said police are still investigating.

“This is unprecedented in El Paso,” Gomez said.

El Paso police Chief Greg Allen said that “the scene is a horrific one” and added that the FBI will be investigating whether it was a hate crime. Allen mentioned a manifesto that suggests a hate crime, adding investigators will be studying to see whether the shooter wrote it; FBI special agent in charge Emmerson Buie said the agency is reviewing “all the evidence that we have collected so far.” CNN reported that the FBI has opened a domestic terror investigation in the case.

In a statement to CNN, Gov. Greg Abbott called the shooting “disgusting, intolerable … we are going to prosecute it as capital murder but also as a hate crime.”

“We must do one thing today, one thing tomorrow and each and every day after this,” said at an earlier press conference. “We must unite. … Now is the time for Texans to come together to support each other, to help these families in need and make sure that El Paso takes the step forward that it needs to take.”

Photo courtesy of The Texas Tribune

When pressed about what lawmakers could do to prevent yet another mass shooting in Texas, Abbott highlighted legislation passed this year that he said addressed school safety and mental health issues that arose after the deadly shooting at Sante Fe High School last year.

“That [shooting] led to three days of hearings that I conducted at the Capitol to get input from people who are educators, who are students, who are victims of shooting crimes, as well as experts in all different kinds of fields to help us be able to strategize the best ways to keep students safe and to prevent incidents like that from happening again,” he said. “During that time we did not, as far as I know, evaluate for and plan for an incident like this. That said, I can tell you that perhaps the most profound and agreed upon issue that came out of all of those hearings was the need for the state and for society to do a better job of dealing with challenging mental health based issues.”

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, who also spoke at the press conference, said placing the blame on mental health issues alone isn’t good enough.

“We have failed. We have failed this state and we have failed our country,” Escobar said. “Putting it on mental health care alone, lack of access to mental health care, that’s not right.”

Gomez said 911 calls about the shooting began coming in at 10 a.m. local time. Law enforcement soon sealed off the area around the Walmart. FBI SWAT teams could be seen near armored vehicles, along with Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, as a military-style helicopter circled overhead.

Law enforcement officers and an armored vehicle were on the scene near a Walmart in El Paso after a mass shooting Saturday. Photo credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune

A spokesman for El Paso University Medical Center told CNN that 13 shooting victims were transported to the hospital and one later died. The hospital’s CEO later told the network that the victims ranged in age from 35 to 82 years old and nine were in critical condition.

Victoria Hankins, a 38-year-old El Paso native, said she was in the grocery area near the rear of the store when she heard seven or eight shots in rapid succession. She said everyone hit the floor and started crawling away from the shots. Hankins said someone told them to hide in the back of the store, and a number of people crowded into a metal shipping container, which was stifling in the heat. She said people in the store helped each other find places to hide.

When they emerged after the shooting was over, Hankins said she saw a woman exit the store with blood on her legs, saying she was looking for her children.

“I’m not surprised by everyone taking care of each other inside,” Hankins said, adding that she also wasn’t surprised that someone would start shooting inside the Walmart. “It can happen anywhere nowadays. It’s crazy.”

Another survivor, who would only give his first name, Raul, said he was inside the Walmart and heard several rapid-fire shots. He said he was instructed to get out of the store, then became stranded because his truck was inside the crime scene perimeter.

It’s the third mass shooting in Texas in less than two years. In November 2017, a mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, a small community about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio, left 26 people dead and 20 wounded. The 26-year-old gunman died after fleeing the scene when citizens exchanged gunfire with him. And in May 2018, a shooter killed 10 people and wounded 13 others at Santa Fe High School outside of Houston.

“We are all trying to piece together what has happened in our community,” Escobar told CNN. “It is unfathomable.

“And it is unfortunately an all too common pain across America,” Escobar added. “We have the solutions. They are right in front of us. What we need is the will to act as a country.”

Law enforcement officers descended on a Walmart in El Paso during the shooting. Photo credit: Julián Aguilar for The Texas Tribune

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said his office would help all law enforcement agencies involved in the shooting investigation. “Our deepest sympathies and prayers extend to all the people of El Paso, especially those who have been directly impacted by this tragedy,” Paxton said in a written statement.

President Donald Trump tweeted, “Terrible shootings in ElPaso, Texas. Reports are very bad, many killed. Working with State and Local authorities, and Law Enforcement. Spoke to Governor to pledge total support of Federal Government. God be with you all!”

But former El Paso Democratic congressman and current presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said Trump’s rhetoric has contributed to the rise of racism in the country.

“We also have to ask ourselves about the level of hatred and racism we’re seeing in this country right now,” O’Rourke said in a Facebook livestream. “We’ve had a rise in hate crimes every single one of the last three years during an administration where you have a president who’s called Mexicans rapists and criminals, though Mexican immigrants commit crimes at a far lower rate. He’s tried to make us afraid of them.”

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas issued a written statement, saying, “My heart is with everyone in El Paso struck by this unspeakable evil. Heidi and I are praying for the victims and their families and grateful for the first responders, local authorities, and law enforcement officers working tirelessly to bring the perpetrator of this depraved act to justice and keep the entire community safe. There are millions of people in Texas and across the country standing behind you.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said, “Texans are heartbroken over the news of the horrific shooting in El Paso. Please join Jan and I in praying for the city of El Paso, the victims, their families and their friends who have suffered an unspeakable loss today.”

This is a breaking story and will be updated as more details are available.

Disclosure: Walmart has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2019/08/03/el-paso-police-say-mass-shooter-active-cielo-vista-mall/.

Texas Tribune mission statement
The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

News + Opinion

Dallas County Health and Human Services Saturday Clinic for Back-to-School Immunizations

School will be in session soon. Plan ahead to avoid last minute, long lines.

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Immunizations for children are required for students in school.

Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) is holding a back-to-school immunization clinic Saturday, August 10 from 9am to 12pm.

This once a year Saturday clinic will take place on the first floor of the main DCHHS building at 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway in Dallas.

Parents/guardians must bring their child’s most recent immunization records.

“It is so important to make sure your children are vaccinated on time to ensure their long term health”, said Dr. Philip Huang, DCHHS Director. “Vaccinations also help protect the health of classmates, friends, relatives and others in the community. Make sure to get you kids any needed vaccines before the back-to-school rush!”

Dallas County residents from birth to age 18 in the following categories are eligible to receive free immunizations on August 10 under the Texas Vaccines for Children Program (TVFC) who meet at least one of the following:

  • Medicaid eligible
  • Uninsured: a child who has no health insurance coverage
  • American Indian or Alaskan Native
  • Underinsured (as defined by the Texas Department of State Health Services)

Parents/guardians should review immunization records and consult with a primary care provider or a public health professional to determine needed vaccinations.

Texas minimum state vaccine requirements for students grades K-12 can be found here.

For more information on the DCHHS immunization clinic and upcoming community events, please visit the county website.

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Alamo Drafthouse Implements Donation Campaign at all Texas Theaters to Support El Paso and Dayton Shooting Victims

The Texas-based theater brand is stepping up and reaching out to help others.

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Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has implemented a charitable campaign across all Texas theaters to support the victims of the El Paso and Dayton shootings.

Through August 26, guests at Alamo Drafthouse theaters across Texas can choose to make a $1, $3, or $5 contribution via a donation add-on feature every time they purchase tickets via the website or the Alamo Drafthouse app.

Every dollar raised, along with an Alamo Drafthouse match up to $20,000, will go towards the Paso Del Norte Community Foundation’s El Paso Victims Relief Fund and the Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund.

Click here for more details on donating and distribution of funds.

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Gunman in El Paso Shooting Faces Death Penalty, Federal Domestic Terrorism Charges

Police say the gunman legally purchased the weapon he used in the shooting that left 20 people dead and more than two dozen wounded at an El Paso Walmart.

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Patrick Crusius, the alleged gunman in Saturday's mass shooting in El Paso. Photo credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation

EL PASO — The gunman charged in the deadly attack that took the lives of 20 people in this border city has been charged with state capital murder charges, and federal authorities are separately pursuing a domestic terrorism case, law enforcement officials said Sunday.

The alleged gunman, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius of Allen, north of Dallas, is in custody after police said he opened fire at a Walmart in East-Central El Paso. He was arrested without incident and is said to be cooperating with authorities.

“I know the death penalty is something very powerful, but in this occasion it’s something that’s necessary,” El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza told reporters Sunday morning.

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said the weapon used in the shooting was purchased legally, but he did not reveal where or when it was purchased.

Crusius allegedly published a manifesto where he indicated the crime was motivated by hatred toward immigrants. El Paso police and the FBI have said they are investigating the manifesto to determine whether Crusius was the author.

John Bash, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, said the crime meets the criteria for domestic terrorism under federal law.

“This meets [the definition], it appears to be designed to intimidate a civilian population,” he said. “And we’re going to do what we do to terrorists in this country, which is deliver swift and certain justice.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie said the agency has also obtained three search warrants to execute in the Dallas area. He added that the FBI “continues to look at a number of different potential crimes” and that the FBI hate crimes fusion cell — which includes field agents, analysts and members of the agency’s criminal investigations and counterterrorism divisions — has been activated.

Local authorities seeking the death penalty doesn’t mean the feds won’t do the same, however. After the 2015 mass shooting in a Charleston, S.C. church that left nine black churchgoers dead, 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof faced a death sentence on both state and federal charges. He was sentenced to die in federal court before the state prosecution moved forward; he ultimately pleaded guilty and received a life sentence on the state charges.

Federal executions have been rare: The federal government has put to death three people since the death penalty was reinstated, with the last one in 2003. U.S. Attorney General William Barr has scheduled five more for December and January.

It’s too early to know how those jurisdiction questions will play out in the El Paso shooting, but Texas has executed more people than any other state in the country by far — with more than 560 people put to death since capital punishment was reinstated nationally in 1976. Eleven men are scheduled to be executed before the end of the year.

Early Sunday morning, the Walmart where the shooting happened was still surrounded by police officers and yellow crime scene tape. Allen said authorities were working quickly to restore normalcy to the area.

“We’re beginning to remove the bodies from the scene,” he said.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2019/08/04/gunman-el-paso-shooting-faces-death-penalty-domestic-terrorism-charges/.

Texas Tribune mission statement
The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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