Washington: Update: Authorities in Texas are investigating the mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso on Saturday as a possible hate crime, the city's police chief said.
A 21-year-old white male suspect from Allen, a suburb of Dallas, surrendered to police outside the store after the rampage that left 20 people dead and 26 wounded. He later told investigators he wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible, two law enforcement officials were quoted as saying by ABC News.
The officials also said an assault-style rifle, similar to an AK-47, was secured at the scene along with several magazines.
"Right now we have a manifesto from this individual that indicates to some degree he has a nexus to potential hate crime," El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said at a news conference.
El Paso, on the border with Mexico, has a majority Hispanic population.
El Paso Mayor Dee Margo has confirmed police are investigating whether a racist screed posted online shortly before a shooting that killed 20 people in a busy shopping area was written by the suspect.
In it, the writer expresses concern that an influx of Hispanics into the United States will replace aging white voters, potentially turning Texas blue in upcoming elections and swinging the White House to the Democrats.
The writer is 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 Patrick Crusius included pro-Donald Trump posts praising the border wall plan, the writer of the online document says his views on race predated Trump's campaign.
Though the writer denied he was a white supremacist, the document says "race mixing" is destroying the nation and recommends dividing the United States into territorial enclaves determined by race.
The area where the shooting occurred is about 5 miles from the main border checkpoint with Ciudad Juarez, and the mayor said that tens of thousands of Mexicans legally cross the border each day to work and shop in El Paso.
A young gunman opened fire in an El Paso, Texas, shopping area packed with as many as 3,000 people during the busy back-to-school season Saturday, leaving 20 dead and more than two dozen injured.
Gov. Greg Abbott called the incident in the Texas border city "one of the most deadly days in the history of Texas." Police said authorities were investigating if it was a hate crime.
The suspect was arrested without incident outside the Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall, said El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen. Two law enforcement officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity identified the suspect as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius. El Paso police didn't release his name at a news conference but confirmed the gunman is from Allen, near Dallas.
Many of the victims were shot at the Walmart, police said.
"The scene was a horrific one," said Allen, adding that many of the 26 people who were hurt had life-threatening injuries.
The chief said police found a post online possibly written by the suspect.
"Right now we have a manifesto from this individual that indicates, to some degree, it has a nexus to potential hate crime," Allen said.
The shooting 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.
El Paso, which has about 680,000 residents, is in West Texas and sits across the border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Residents quickly volunteered to give blood to the injured after the shooting, and police and military members were helping people look for missing loved ones.
"It's chaos right now," said Austin Johnson, an Army medic at nearby Fort Bliss, who volunteered to help at the shopping center and later at a school serving as a reunification center.
Adriana Quezada, 39, said she was in the women's clothing section of Walmart with her two children when she heard gunfire.
"But I thought they were hits, like roof construction," she 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, Quezada said.
She said she saw four men, dressed in black, moving together firing guns indiscriminately. Police later said they believed the suspect, who was armed with a rifle, was the only shooter.
Ryan Mielke, a spokesman for University Medical Center of El Paso, said 13 of the injured were brought to the hospital with injuries, including one who died. Two of the injured were children who were being transferred to El Paso Children's Hospital, he said. He wouldn't provide additional details on the victims.
Eleven other victims were being treated at Del Sol Medical Center, hospital spokesman Victor Guerrero said. Those victims' ages ranged from 35 to 82, he said.
President Donald Trump tweeted: "God be with you all!"
At a candidate forum Saturday in Las Vegas, presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, who is from El Paso, appeared a bit shaken after news of the shooting in his hometown was reported. The Democrat said the shooting shatters "any illusion that we have that progress is inevitable" on tackling gun violence.
He said he heard early reports that the shooter might have had a military-style weapon, saying we need to "keep that (expletive) on the battlefield. Do not bring it into our communities."
El Paso Mayor Dee Margo said he knew the shooter was not from his town.
"It's not what we're about," he said at the news conference with the governor and police chief. El Paso is nearly a 10-hour drive from Allen, where the suspect lives.
El Paso has become a focal point of the immigration debate, drawing Trump in February to argue that walling off the southern border would make the US safer, while city residents and O'Rourke led thousands on a protest march past the barrier of barbed wire-topped fencing and towering metal slats.
O'Rourke stressed that border walls haven't made his hometown safer. The city's murder rate was less than half the national average in 2005, the year before the start of its border fence. Before the wall project started, El Paso had been rated one of the three safest major US cities going back to 1997.
Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, also said the El Paso shooting suspect wasn't on her group's radar screen prior to the shooting.
"We had nothing in our files on him," Beirich wrote in an email.
The shooting is the 21st mass killing in the United States in 2019, and the fifth public mass shooting. Before Saturday, 96 people had died in mass killings in 2019 - 26 of them in public mass shootings.
The AP/USATODAY/Northeastern University mass murder database tracks all US homicides since 2006 involving four or more people killed, not including the offender, over a short period of time regardless of weapon, location, victim-offender relationship or motive. The database shows that the median age of a public mass shooter is 28, significantly lower than the median age of a person who commits a mass shooting of their family.
Since 2006, 11 mass shootings - not including Saturday's - have been committed by men who are 21 or younger. The local ABC affiliate, KVIA, said the suspected shooter attacked a Walmart. CNN said three restaurants in the area were on lockdown.
President Trump: 'It was cowardice'
US President Donald Trump condemned Saturday's mass shooting at a Walmart store in Texas as an act cowardice, saying there could be no justification for the killing of innocent people.
"Today's shooting in El Paso, Texas was not only tragic, it was an act of cowardice," Trump wrote on Twitter.
"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."
What we know about Patrick Crusius, the suspect
The suspect in the killing of at least 20 people in El Paso posted an online manifesto before starting on the deadly rampage that was described by Texas law enforcement and political leaders as hate-filled and racist.
Media reports have identified 21-year-old Patrick Crusius of Allen, Texas, as the suspect in the shooting Saturday at a Walmart in the border city.
Although authorities did not publicly confirm his identify or describe the precise contents of the manifesto, a document posted on the website 8chan about an hour-and-a-half before the rampage spoke about the "invasion " of Latino immigrants and said the writer agreed with the shooter who killed worshipers at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. That document was posted by an anonymous user who posted another document under the file name "P._Crusius." That file was taken down, and it is not clear what it contained.
A Twitter account that appeared to belong to Crusius was shut down Saturday evening. Tweets on the account had praised President Trump and, in particular, his effort to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.
Television coverage showed police swarming a house identified as that of Crusius in Allen, a mostly white suburb of Dallas about 650 miles east of El Paso.
Local media reported that Crusius briefly attended Liberty High School and went on to graduate from Plano Senior High School. In 2017, he started to attend Collin College, a community college in McKinney, Texas, according to a statement released by the college.
Leigh Ann Locascio, a former neighbour, said Crusius was an extreme loner who always sat alone on the bus in junior high and high school. He spoke negatively of other kids who played sports or joined the school band, she said.
She described Crusius as "very much a loner, very stand-offish " and someone who "didn 't interact a whole lot with anyone."
Her son, Tony Locascio, walked to school regularly with Crusius and his sister. Tony Locascio said Patrick Crusius only walked ahead or behind them, never interacting and always keeping to himself.
He liked animals and kept pet snakes. "He wouldn 't talk to people. No one really knew him, " Tony Locascio said.
Daniel Heo of Plano, Texas, told The Times that he attended elementary school with Crusius and remembers playing basketball and soccer with him during recess. They attended kindergarten together at Beverly Elementary School in Plano, another Dallas suburb, according to Heo, 20.
Heo said he fell out of touch with Crusius after elementary school. It wasn 't until Saturday, when he received a text message from his friend about the shooting and how Crusius was a suspect, that Heo remembered him.
What we know about Patrick Crusius, the suspect in the El Paso massacre "I 'm shocked. I remember him being a nice kid, " Heo said.
Sister: El Paso shooting victim, 25, 'gave her life' for son
Among the 20 dead when a young gunman opened fire in an El Paso, Texas, shopping area Saturday was a 25-year-old woman who was shot while holding her two-month-old son, her sister said.
Leta Jamrowski, 19, of El Paso learned on Saturday afternoon that her sister Jordan Anchondo had been shot to death at Walmart while shopping for back-to-school supplies. Jamrowski spoke to The Associated Press as she paced a waiting room at the University Medical Center of El Paso, where her two-month-old nephew was being treated for broken bones - the result of his mother's fall.
"From the baby's injuries, they said that more than likely my sister was trying to shield him," she said. "So when she got shot she was holding him and she fell on him, so that's why he broke some of his bones. So he pretty much lived because she gave her life."
Anchondo was the mother of three children.
From the baby's injuries, they said that more than likely my sister was trying to shield him. So when she got shot she was holding him and she fell on him, so that's why he broke some of his bones. So he pretty much lived because she gave her life.
Jamrowski spent the night desperately awaiting word of whether her brother-in-law, Andre Anchondo, had survived the attack.
"They said that if he were alive, more than likely he would have gotten in contact by now," Jamrowski said.
In the hospital lobby, Mexican consular officials tracked the wounded and missing.
Here are of some of the other deadliest recent mass shootings in the United States:
Vegas concert: 58 killed
A 64-year-old retired accountant shoots down from his hotel room at a crowd attending an outdoor country music concert on October 1, 2017, killing 58 people and wounding around 550 before committing suicide. It is the worst mass shooting in modern US history.
Florida club: 49 killed
A heavily armed gunman opens fire inside a gay nightclub in the city of Orlando on June 12, 2016, killing 49 people. The attacker is killed in a shootout with police. He pledges allegiance to the Islamic State group, which later claims responsibility.
Sandy Hook: 26 killed
A 20-year-old man kills his mother in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012 before blasting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and shooting dead 20 six- and seven-year old children and six adults. He commits suicide.
Texas church: 25 killed
A 26-year-old man who was court-martialed while in the Air Force shoots dead 25 worshippers during Sunday services and wounds at least 20 others at a Baptist church in the small rural community of Sutherland Springs outside San Antonio, Texas, on November 5, 2017. The shooter flees and is later found dead in his car with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Florida high school: 17 dead
A 19-year-old former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who was expelled for disciplinary reasons returns to the school in Parkland, Florida, and opens fire on February 14, 2018, killing 14 students and three adult staff members.
California office party: 14 dead
A radicalized Muslim couple storm a Christmas office party at a social services center in San Bernardino in December 2015 and gun down 14 people, wounding 22 others. They are shot dead by police.
Virginia Beach: 12 dead
An engineer shoots dead 12 at a municipal building in this coastal city on May 31, 2019. The 40-year-old had worked for the public works department in Virginia Beach for about 15 years before carrying out the rampage at his workplace. He died in a gunfight with police.
California bar: 12 dead
On November 7, 2018, a 28-year-old US Marine Corps combat veteran opens fire in a crowded country music bar in California, killing 12 people. The assailant, a troubled former machine gunner who served a tour in Afghanistan, dies of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Colorado cinema: 12 dead
A young man wearing body armor opens fire in a movie theater showing a late-night premiere of a Batman film in Aurora, Colorado in July 2012. Twelve people are killed and 70 wounded. He is sentenced to life in prison.
Synagogue in Pittsburgh: 11 dead
On October 27, 2018, a 46-year-old gunman bursts into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg during Shabbat services, killing eleven people. He reportedly yells "All Jews must die!" during the attack. He is indicted on 29 counts, some of which carry the death penalty.
High school in Santa Fe: 10 dead
A 17-year-old student armed with a shotgun and a revolver opens fire just as classes are starting at his school in Santa Fe, Texas, on May 18, 2018, killing ten people including eight students. The student, who authorities say used weapons legally owned by his father, is taken into custody on murder charges.