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Gunman opens fire in El Paso, Texas superstore; more than 20 dead

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Location of the Walmart store where the shooting took place.

On Saturday morning, a gunman shot shoppers at a Walmart store in the U.S. border city of El Paso, Texas, with the death toll rising to 22 people on Monday, reported officials, with 25 others injured. Police said the suspected gunman surrendered himself to police after being confronted by officers. The shooting began at 10:39 a.m. local time (1639 UTC), according to police, who said officers arrived at the Walmart six minutes later.

State prosecutors charged the suspect in the shooting with capital murder, they said Sunday — murder carrying the possibility of the death penalty.

Federal authorities are investigating the shooting as domestic terrorism, according to prosecutor Josh Bash, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas. Bash characterized the attack as "designed to intimidate a civilian population, to say the least."

"We are treating it as a domestic terrorism case, and we're going to do what we do to terrorists in this country, which is deliver swift and certain justice," said Bash. Charges of domestic terrorism also carry a possible death penalty at the federal level.

The Walmart, by the Cielo Vista Mall, where the shooting happened is roughly five miles (eight kilometers) from the U.S.–Mexico border crossing between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, separated by the Rio Grande.

According to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, six Mexican nationals were killed in the attack, and seven more were injured. Another report from the Mexican government during the weekend said eight Mexicans died in the attack. Mexico's Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said the Mexican government would pressure the U.S. government to provide better protections for Mexicans in the United States.

The foreign minister said Mexico would consider charging the gunman with terrorism against Mexicans and would seek to extradite the gunman to face charges in Mexico. Ebrard said, "As far as I know, this would be the first case of this type in history", adding, "For Mexico, this individual is a terrorist".

U.S. officials identified the suspect as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius of Allen, Texas, near the city of Dallas.

According to the El Paso mayor, Dee Margo, during the weekend, police were investigating whether a manifesto posted online to the message board 8chan was written by the suspect. In the document, the writer supposes a "cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion" of Hispanic people into the United States.

According to U.S. Attorney Bash, the manifesto if written by the suspect could strengthen the federal government's case: "The key factor here is that it appears to be an intent to coerce or intimidate a civilian population[...] That's met here."

El Paso's police chief Greg Allen said late Sunday the police were attributing authorship of the document to Crusius.

According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, the shooting followed four deadly mass shootings in the United States that week, including one in California at a garlic festival in Gilroy, killing three, and another in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin where at least five died. The El Paso shooting preceded another one less than thirteen hours later in Dayton, Ohio where ten people died. The archive characterizes events where four or more people are killed or injured by gunfire, other than the perpetrator, as a mass shooting.

Sources