At least 20 people have been killed and 26 others wounded in the deadliest mass shooting in the US this year, after a white gunman opened fire inside an El Paso Walmart on Saturday hours after posting an ‘anti-immigrant’ manifesto online.
One suspect was taken into custody at the scene ‘without incident’. He has tentatively been identified as Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old man from Allen, Texas, a town 30 minutes outside of Dallas.
Crusius is allegedly the man seen in surveillance footage walking in through the front entrance of the Cielo Vista Mall Walmart with an AK-47 assault rifle.
The gunman, wearing what appears to be ear defenders and cargo pants, first opened fire in the parking lot outside the store, shooting and killing ‘locals that were fundraising outside the Walmart selling water. Children and adults.’
He then walked through the front door in a calm and confident state, as if he was ‘on a mission’, a witness said.
The twenty-minute massacre that followed would go on to become the eighth deadliest in US history.
In a press conference, El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen confirmed the suspect to be a 21-year-old from Allen but declined to confirm his name.
Gregg added that law enforcement were in possession of a manifesto written by the suspect which shows a possible ‘nexus’ to a hate crime.
Copies of the document had been shared on social media hours earlier in which Crusius cited a ‘Hispanic invasion of Texas’ as his motive for the shooting.
Crusius’ family home in Dallas is some 650 miles – or a nine hour drive – from the scene of the shooting in the southern Texas city, which has a large Hispanic population
Three Mexican nationals are among the dead, according to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, with another six among the injured.
The Cielo Vista Mall is a popular shopping destination for people both sides of the US-Mexico border.
‘F*** this is going to be so s*** but I can’t wait any longer,’ a message on the forum Crusius is said to have posted the manifesto on reads, dated Saturday August 3, just hours before the shooting.
‘I know that the media is going to try to frame my incorrectly, but y’all will know the truth! I’m probably going to die today.’
Police arrived at the scene six minutes after the gunman first opened fire.
The culprit surrendered his weapon inside the store as soon as he came into contact with law enforcement.
The 21-year-old was taken into custody ‘without incident’. Officers didn’t fire any shorts during the arrest, officials said.
Currently, prosecutors say they’re seeking capital murder charges against the suspect but may also proceed with hate crime or domestic terrorism charges, pending the outcome of an FBI investigation into the ‘anti-immigrant’ manifesto.
A second person was also taken into custody at the scene, however law enforcement have yet to confirm what role, if any, the person played in the shooting, NBC News reported.
Del Sol Medical Center said the hospital received 11 victims – nine of them listed in critical but stable condition.
Two of those treated were in stable condition.
The University Medical Center of El Paso received 13 patients, a spokesperson said.
Two minors, including a two-year-old, were stabilized and transferred to El Paso Children’s Hospital.
The victims’ conditions ranged from minor injury to fatal.
Shortly after, Sgt. Enrique Carrillo, a police spokesman, said a suspect was in custody and there was no longer danger to the public.
A local NBC affiliate, KTSM-TV, is reporting that at least 18 people were killed.
According to public records, Crusius’ last known address was his family’s home in Allen, Texas, where he lived with his parents, twin sister and older brother.
The home, around 30 minutes outside of Dallas and more than 9 hours away from El Paso, is reportedly being raided by police.
It’s not clear if Crusius has any connections to the El Paso area.
A video of the suspect’s arrest was captured by a witness on Snapchat and has since circulated on various social media platforms.
The man depicted in the video matches the description of the shooter and resembles the profile of Crusius.
When the first shots rang out, the Waltmart store was set to be ‘at capacity’ with more than 3,000 shoppers inside hoping to get ahead of the busy back-to-school season.
At least three other businesses in the area were placed on lock down as a result of the shooting, including a Red Lobster franchise and a Hooter’s location.
One witness said he saw at least one person inside the store with a fatal head wound, and he saw shoppers in bloodied clothes.
Witness Miguel Rodriguez told The Daily Beast the gunman, ‘started shooting everyone, aisle by aisle, with rage.’
Witnesses told CBS 4 News they believe the suspect only stopped shooting because he ran out of ammunition.
Video posted on Twitter showed customers at one department store being evacuated with their hands up.
‘Hands in the air!’ an officer can be heard shouting in the footage.
‘We heard shots and saw smoke,’ said Victor Gamboa, 18, who works at the McDonald’s inside the Walmart store where the shooting took place.
‘I saw a man on the floor full of blood. He appeared to be dead. It happened very quickly.’
Gamboa said employees sheltered customers who huddled on the ground during the shooting rampage.
They were on the ground for some 15 minutes until officers arrived and led the survivors to a Sam’s Club across the street.
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 on the ground, then ran out of the Walmart through an emergency exit.
They were unhurt.
Evan McMorris-Santoro, a reporter for the Vice news site, tweeted that he was at a town hall event for House Rep. Veronica Escobar when it was shut down due to the situation nearby.
Morris-Santoro clarified that the scene was ‘not close to us.’
Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. congressman who represented El Paso, tweeted: ‘Truly heartbreaking. Stay safe, El Paso.
‘Please follow all directions of emergency personnel as we continue to get more updates.’
After his tweet, O’Rourke said he was distraught by the news of the mass-shooting in his hometown.
An emotional O’Rourke told reporters on Saturday in Las Vegas that he had spoken by phone to El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, the city’s sheriff and U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar.
He says they were still learning details about the attack at or near the Cielo Vista Mall, in which police say multiple people were killed and a suspect was taken into custody.
O’Rourke said he planned to return home immediately to be with his family.
He asked ‘for everyone’s strength for El Paso right now. Everyone’s resolve to make sure that this does not continue to happen in this country.’
O’Rourke’s successor, House Rep. Veronica Escobar, tweeted: ‘Utterly heartbroken by the developing news in El Paso.
‘Monitoring the situation and in communication with our law enforcement. Please stay safe.’
Texas Governor Greg Abbott condemned the shooting as ‘a heinous and senseless act of violence.’
He also thanked first responders for helping to minimalize civilian casualties by acting swiftly, courageously and effectively.
The White House says President Trump has been briefed on the shooting and has spoken to Attorney General William Barr and Abbott.
Trump tweeted: ‘Today’s shooting in El Paso, Texas was not only tragic, it was an act of cowardice. I know that I stand with everyone in this Country to condemn today’s hateful act. There are no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing innocent people.
‘Melania and I send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the great people of Texas,’ he continued.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo voiced his outrage over the shooting too, but also issued a damning indictment of Washington and the Trump administration for failing to take a hard-line stance on gun-control and against the NRA.
‘My heart breaks for the victims of the horrific shooting in El Paso earlier today,’ Cuomo began.
‘While President Trump cowardly kowtows to the NRA, the gun violence epidemic is tearing apart our nation and people are dying.
‘Thoughts and prayers will not stop this madness. In New York, we stand up to the NRA. We stand up for the safety of children. We stand up for sanity.
‘It’s past time leaders in Washington did the same. Until they do, these senseless murders will continue,’ Cuomo added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also added they were praying for the friends and families of the victims and took the time to thank first responders for their life-saving work.
Both politicians also called for their DC peers to take action against gun-violence.
‘Too many families in too many communities have been forced to endure the daily horror of gun violence. Enough is enough,’ Pelosi said. ‘The Republican Senate’s continued inaction dishonors our solemn duty to protect innocent men, women and children and end this epidemic once and for all.’
Presidential hopeful Marianne Williamson extended her thoughts to the people ‘throughout my beloved home state of Texas, in this agonizing moment.’
‘And prayers for all the rest of us as well, that we might summon up the courage to remove this scourge of gun violence from our midst. Let us pray and let us act,’ she continued.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives announced that it has dispatched federal agents to the scene to assist local law enforcement.
‘Please stay away from the area and refrain from posting first responder activity on social media,’ the ATF’s Dallas bureau tweeted on Saturday.
A family that was shopping near Walmart during the shooting sought cover in nearby Landry’s Seafood, hostess Sofia Cervantes told USA TODAY.
‘They are in shock right now,’ Cervantes said. ‘They were barely able to talk to us.’
An employee of a nearby Olive Garden told The New York Times that the restaurant has also been placed in lock down.
At least 10 people ran into the restaurant seeking cover, the employee said.
‘We don’t have any information, just that there’s an active shooter at the Walmart in the same parking lot as we are,’ the employee said.
‘We’re just on lock down right now.
‘The SWAT team just came in and told us that they had cleared the building and told us lock the doors.’
An assistant manager at a Men’s Wearhouse in the Cielo Vista Mall said at least 15 people came into the store when the shooting started.
Susana Franco said police officers, military and the SWAT team could be seen from her store’s front windows.
‘They’re not letting people in the parking lot,’ she said. ‘They’re trying to evacuate all of the mall.’
A Walmart employee told KTSM that she was working by the self-checkout when the first gunshots rang out.
The employee, named Leslie, said she initially thought the loud bang was caused by boxes being dropped.
‘I thought it was just like loud boxes being dropped or something, until they got closer and closer,’ she said. ‘That’s when I looked at my co-worker, and we looked at each other like shocked and scared.’
‘I got all the people that I could, I even found a little girl that was missing from her parents, and I got her, too. I tried to get as many people as I could out,’ she said.
Throughout the day there had been numerous reports on social media of multiple shooters at the scene and at other locations.
Police later said that following the arrest of Crusius, there was no further threat.
Alice Baland, who lives four houses down from the Crusius’ last registered address, said a retired couple lives at the home. She described them as sweet people who regularly attend church.
On his LinkedIn page in 2015, Crusius wrote that he was not motivated to do anything other than ‘enough to get by’. The page was taken down from the website shortly after Crusius was tentatively associated with the shooting.
His profile states that he attended Plano High School. Another source said he may have also attended and later graduated from Liberty High School in Frisco.
‘I’m not really motivated to do anything more than what’s necessary to get by,’ he wrote in the About section of his LinkedIn profile. ‘Working in general sucks, but I guess a career in Software Development suits me well. I spend about 8 hours every day on the computer so that counts as technology experience I guess. Pretty much gonna see what technology careers present themselves; go with the wind.’
Referencing his time at high school, Crusius said that he didn’t participate in extracurricular activities citing a ‘lack of freedom.’
No one was shot at Cielo Vista Mall or on its property, according to Simon Property Group Chief Marketing Officer Mikael Thygesen. 4,000 people were said to be inside the facility at the time.
Thygesen says the shooting occurred on Walmart’s property and in the Walmart parking lot.
The mall was put on lockdown as a result of the shooting, Thygesen said, but there is said to be no ongoing threat to the public at this time.
Walmart issued a statement on its Twitter account which read: ‘We’re in shock over the tragic events at Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, where store 2201 & club 6502 are located.
‘We’re praying for the victims, the community & our associates, as well as the first responders.
‘We’re working closely with law enforcement & will update as appropriate.’
In an urgent call to action on Twitter,local authorities have urged members of the public to come forward to donate blood as the victim count of the massacre continues to rise.
At least two blood donation centers in the area were open in the shooting’s wake: Vitalant Blood Services on 424 S. Mesa Hills Dr and on 1338 N Zaragoza Rd.
As of Saturday afternoon, a Facebook post from Vitalant said that 240 units of blood had been supplied to victims of the shooting, and that both of the donation centers were now at capacity as a result of the overwhelming response.
‘We will need your precious donations going forward for ongoing victim needs and to replenish supplies,’ the center said.
El Paso, which has about 680,000 residents, is in West Texas sits across the border from Juarez, Mexico.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Luke Kenton