US mass shootings: Man charged with murder after at least 20 killed and dozens injured at Texas Walmart massacre
A MAN has been charged with murder after 20 people were killed and more than two dozen injured in Texas.
The gunman, armed with a rifle, opened fire in an El Paso shopping centre packed with as many as 3,000 people during the busy back-to-school season.
Hours later, another shooting in Dayton, Ohio, claimed nine lives. That gunman was killed by police.
Authorities were investigating whether Saturday’s El Paso attack was a hate crime after the emergence of a racist, anti-immigrant screed that was posted online shortly beforehand.
Detectives sought to determine if it was written by the man who was arrested.
The border city has figured prominently in the immigration debate and is home to 680,000 people, most of them Latino.
Despite initial reports of possible multiple gunmen, the man in custody was believed to be the only shooter, police said.
Two law enforcement officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity identified him as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius.
Authorities did not release his name at a news conference but said he was arrested without police firing any shots.
He is from Allen, which is a nearly 10-hour drive from El Paso.
The suspect was booked on capital murder charges, according to jail records.
There was no immediate indication that he had an attorney.
Police say more than two dozen people were wounded in the attack at a shopping area about five miles from the main border checkpoint with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Many of the victims were shot at a Walmart.
“The scene was a horrific one,” El Paso police chief Greg Allen said, adding that many of the 26 people who were hurt had life-threatening injuries.
Adriana Quezada said she was in the women’s clothing section of the Walmart with her two children when she heard gunfire.
“But I thought they were hits, like roof construction,” Ms Quezada, 39, said of the shots.
Her 19-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son threw themselves to the ground, then ran out of the store through an emergency exit. They were not hurt.
Relatives said a 25-year-old woman who was shot while trying to shield her two-month-old son was among those killed.
Officials said three Mexican nationals were among the dead and six more were wounded.
Ryan Mielke, a spokesman for University Medical Centre of El Paso, said 13 of the wounded were brought to the hospital, including one who died.
Two of the injured were children who were transferred to El Paso Children’s Hospital, he said.
A total of 11 other victims ages 35 to 82 were being treated at Del Sol Medical Centre, hospital spokesman Victor Guerrero said.
Residents quickly volunteered to give blood to the injured. President Donald Trump tweeted: “God be with you all!”
Texas governor 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.
“Reports are very bad, many killed,” Mr Trump tweeted.
Presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke appeared a bit shaken as he appeared at a candidate forum in Las Vegas, shortly after news of the shooting in his hometown was reported.
Mr O’Rourke, who said he had called his wife before going on stage, said the shooting shattered “any illusion that we have that progress is inevitable” on tackling gun violence.
In a document that was posted online shortly before the shooting, the writer expressed concern that an influx of Hispanics into the US will replace ageing white voters, potentially turning Texas blue in upcoming elections and swinging the White House to the Democrats.
The writer was also critical of Republicans for what he described as close ties to corporations and degradation of the environment.
Though a Twitter account that appears to belong to Crusius included pro-Trump posts praising the plan to build more border wall, the writer of the online document said his views on race predated Mr Trump’s campaign and that any attempt to blame the president for his actions was “fake news.”
The writer denied he was a white supremacist but the document says “race mixing” is destroying the nation and recommends dividing the US into territorial enclaves determined by race.
The first sentence of the four-page document expresses support for the man accused of killing 51 people at two New Zealand mosques in March after posting his own screed with a conspiracy theory about nonwhite migrants replacing whites.
In the hours after the shooting, authorities blocked streets near a home in Allen associated with the suspect.
Officers appeared to speak briefly with a woman who answered the door of the grey stone house and later entered the residence.
Read more here: Ohio shooting: 10 dead as gunman in body armour opens fire in downtown Dayton district
Separately, hours later A gunman wearing body armour and carrying extra magazines opened fire in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine and injuring dozens, authorities have said.
It was the second mass shooting in the US in less than 24 hours.
Dayton police patrolling the area responded in less than a minute to the shooting, which unfolded at about 1am on Sunday on the streets of the Oregon District, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said at a press conference.
Ms Whaley said if the police had not responded so quickly, “hundreds of people in the Oregon District could be dead today”.
The Oregon District is a historic neighbourhood that Lieutenant Colonel Matt Carper described as “a safe part of downtown,” home to bars, restaurants and theatres.
The gunman, who has not been identified by authorities, was shot to death by responding officers.
Ms Whaley said he was carrying a .223-calibre rifle and had additional high-capacity magazines with him.
Police believe there was only one shooter and have not yet identified the suspect or a motive.
Ms Whaley said at least 27 people were treated for injuries and at least 15 of those have been released.
Several more remain in serious or critical condition, local hospital officials said at a news conference.
They said some people suffered multiple gunshot wounds and others suffered injuries as they fled.
Miami Valley Hospital spokeswoman Terrea Little said the hospital had received 16 victims but she could not confirm their conditions.
Kettering Health Network spokeswoman Elizabeth Long said multiple victims from a shooting had been brought to system hospitals, but she didn’t have details on how many.
Nikita Papillon, 23, was across the street at Newcom’s Tavern when the shooting started.
She said she saw a girl she had talked to earlier lying outside Ned Peppers Bar.
“She had told me she liked my outfit and thought I was cute and I told her I liked her outfit and I thought she was cute,” Ms Papillon said.
She had been to Ned Peppers the night before, describing it as the kind of place “where you don’t have to worry about someone shooting up the place.
“People my age, we don’t think something like this is going to happen,” she said.
“And when it happens, words can’t describe it.”
Tianycia Leonard, 28, was in the back of Newcom’s.
She heard “loud thumps” she initially thought was people pounding on a skip.
“It was so noisy but then you could tell it was gunshots and there was a lot of rounds,” Ms Leonard said.
Ned Peppers staff said in a Facebook post they were left shaken and confused by the shooting.
The bar said a bouncer was treated for shrapnel wounds.
A message seeking further comment was left with staff.
Mr Trump has been briefed on the shooting and praised law enforcement’s speedy response in a tweet on Sunday morning.
Governor Mike DeWine issued his own statement before 7am, announcing he has ordered flags in Ohio remain at half-mast,.
He also offered assistance to Ms Whaley.
The FBI is assisting with the investigation.
A family assistance centre was set up at the Dayton Convention Centre, where people seeking information on victims arrived in a steady trickle throughout the morning.
Some local pastors were on hand to offer support, as were comfort dogs.
Ms Whaley said the Oregon District is expected to reopen on Sunday afternoon and a vigil is planned on Sunday evening.
The minor league baseball team Dayton Dragons, who play in nearby Fifth Third Field, postponed their Sunday afternoon game against the Lake County Captains “due to this morning’s tragic event”.
Before Saturday, 96 people had died in mass killings in 2019 – 26 of them in public mass shootings.
Pope Francis on Sunday condemned attacks on “defenceless people” in a spate of gun violence in three American states.
Speaking to thousands of pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday message and blessing, Francis said he was spiritually close to the victims, the wounded and the families affected by attacks he said had “bloodied Texas, California and Ohio”.
Francis said all three attacks targeted “defenceless people”.
He mentioned the Texas shooting as well as another last week at a food festival in California where three people were killed, and a third in Dayton, Ohio, where 10 people were killed early on Sunday. .
Francis, who has in the past criticised the gun manufacturing industry, then led the crowd in reciting a Hail Mary for the victims.
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