22 dead in El Paso shooting massacre, officials will seek death penalty for suspect, 21

August 04, 2019 - 12:15 pm
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EL PASO, Texas (1010 WINS/AP) – There were 22 people killed and dozens more injured in a shooting at a shopping area in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday, officials say.

The suspected gunman -- identified as Patrick Crusius, 21, of the Dallas area -- was taken into police custody Saturday afternoon. NBC News also reported hat a second person was taken into custody but their connection, if any, to the shooting remains unclear.

Once in police custody, Crusius told investigators he wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible, two law enforcement officials told ABC News.

Officials also believe Crusius (pictured below in 2016 in a high school photo; he graduated in 2017) posted a manifesto on the the  online forum 8chan, in which the author states the attack is a response to a "Hispanic invasion" and says immigration is "detrimental to the future of America."

Crusius was booked on capital murder charges Sunday. Police said he was being cooperative.

A Justice Department official said the federal government is treating the El Paso shooting that killed 20 people as a "domestic terrorist" case.

U.S. Attorney John Bash said Sunday at a news conference in El Paso that the federal government is also investigating the attack at a shopping plaza with a view toward bringing federal hate crime charges.

Authorities have been working to confirm whether a racist, anti-immigrant screed posted online shortly before the attack was written by Crusius.

El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza told reporters that the state of Texas also plans to seek the death penalty.

Plano ISD

Patrick Crusius
FBI

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and El Paso police confirmed that 20 people died and 26 others were wounded in the shooting, which happened at a Walmart and in the area near the Cielo Vista Mall.

A hospital official in El Paso says at least three victims remain in critical condition.

Dr. Stephen Flaherty said Sunday that a total of 11 victims were taken to Del Sol Medical Center. They ranged in age from 35 to 82 years old. More than two dozen people in all were injured in Saturday's shooting, some of whom were treated elsewhere in the Texas border city.

Flaherty told reporters that "a number of the patients" being treated at Del Sol will need to return to the operating room, and potentially multiple times.

El Paso shooting
Mark Lambie/El Paso Times via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Local police and federal authorities responded to an active shooter at the shopping center in the eastern part of El Paso Saturday morning. Most of the shooting took place at or near a Walmart.

Police said by midafternoon that a suspect, Crusius, 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. Olivia Zepeda, chief of staff to to El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, initially told CNN that three suspects were in custody.

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen says authorities are investigating a hate crime as among the possible motives in the shooting.

The chief says authorities are looking into an online writing that indicated a potential connection to a hate crime to determine if it belonged to the suspected gunman.

El Paso shooting
Mark Lambie/El Paso Times via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Speaking to reporters, El Paso police Sgt. Robert Gomez 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.

Witnesses described hearing gunshots coming from the store. Video posted online shows people filing through the mall with their hands up. Another video shows a store worker preparing customers to evacuate.

A family of three was one of a dozen waiting outside a local bus station, trying to get back to their car, in 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 Walmart with in the women's clothing section with her two children.

She said she saw four men, dressed in black, wearing shirts, moved together firing guns indiscriminately.

"I saw four men, shooting everywhere," Quezada said "I told my son, those are gunshots."

Her daughter, 19, and son, 16, threw themselves in the ground, then ran out of the Walmart through an emergency exit. They were unhurt.

President Trump ordered flags in the nation to be flown at half-staff from Sunday until sunset Thursday to show respect for the victims lost in El Paso and in a shooting hours later in Dayton, Ohio, in which at least nine people were killed and dozens more injured.

"We condemn these hateful and cowardly acts. Through our grief, America stands united with the people of El Paso and Dayton. May God be with the victims of these two horrific crimes and bring aid and comfort to their families and friends," reads a statement from the White House press secretary.

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.

Rep. Escobar said she was "utterly heartbroken" by the situation, while Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas representative Beto O'Rourke called it "truly heartbreaking." 

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.

The NYPD said it's increasing security at shopping areas in the city as it monitors the situation in El Paso.