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.”
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.
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.
— Ivan Pierre Aguirre (@i_p_a_1) August 3, 2019
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.”
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/.
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Text to 9-1-1 is now Available in Plano
When it isn’t safe to call, texting is now an option.
The Public Safety Communications Department (Plano 9-1-1) has announced that text to 9-1-1 has been implemented in Plano.
The ability to text messages will assist citizens who are hearing impaired, providing equal access to 9-1-1. It can also be used in circumstances where it is unsafe for the caller to physically make a voice call to 9-1-1. (Note: text to 9-1-1 is not available in every city.)
Here are a few important tips to remember when texting to 9-1-1:
- SMS does not provide accurate location data. You must provide your location as soon as you text.
- No photos or videos, only text.
- No emoji’s.
- No abbreviations, spell things out. Be clear.
- Only text to 9-1-1 if you are unable to make a voice call.
Top Ten U.S. Digital Cities
Only one north Texas city made into the top ten.
The City of Plano has been named a Top Ten U.S. Digital City by the Center for Digital Government.
Now in its 19th year, the annual survey recognizes cities using technology to challenge social challenges, enhance cybersecurity improve transparency and much more.
“Special congratulations go out to Plano, Texas, where the Technology Services Division established a governance board and process for vetting, prioritizing and managing over 320 technology projects and initiatives,” said Phil Bertolini, co-director for the Center for Digital Government. “In addition, through consolidation and infrastructure upgrades, Plano serves as a great example of how a city can leverage technology to increase performance and reduce costs.”
The City will be recognized for this achievement at an awards dinner held during the National League of Cities’ annual City Summit in San Antonio, November 20-23.
The top ten ranking cities in the 250,000 – 499,999 population category are:
1st City of Miami, FL
2nd City of Durham, NC
3rd City of Virginia Beach, VA
4th City of Wichita, KS
5th City of Kansas City, MO
5th City of Plano, TX
6th City of Madison, WI
7th City of Long Beach, CA
8th City of Henderson, NV
9th City of Chandler, AZ
10th City of Greensboro, NC
10th City of Riverside, CA
McKinney National Airport Receives TxDOT Grant
$15 Million in state funding has been awarded for needed improvements.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has approved a grant of $15 million in state funds from its Aviation Facilities Grant Program for the McKinney National Airport. The funds will be used to extend the existing runway from its current length of 7,002 feet to 8,502 feet.
The first step of the process will be an environmental assessment, followed by design and construction. Construction will likely begin in late 2021.
“Today, business aircraft intending to operate out of McKinney must add congestion to one of the commercial service airports if their operations require additional runway length,” said Airport Director Ken Carley. “We are thrilled and extremely grateful to receive the funding for this project. It is evidence the state recognizes the contributions McKinney National Airport makes to the regional airport system and understands the importance of investing in the airport’s future. Extending the runway by 1,500 feet will benefit the entire DFW area by allowing the airport to more effectively serve its role as a reliever for the region’s commercial service airports.”
Grant funding from TxDOT requires an airport sponsor to contribute a minimum of 10 percent in matching funds. The McKinney City Council approved its matching funds to add to the project in September. TxDOT expects to provide approximately $60 million in funding for planning, constructing, and maintaining community airports this year. About 275 community airports in Texas are eligible for this grant.
Operational activity at the airport is projected to grow throughout the 20-year planning period with increased use by business jets needing longer runway lengths to accommodate heavier loads and longer stage lengths. The current Airport Master Plan recommends accomplishing the runway extension in the next five years to allow the airport unrestricted growth.
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