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A mass shooting occurred at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, United States, on the morning of August 3, 2019. A gunman shot and killed 22 people[n 1] and injured 24 others.[2][3][4] The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism and a possible hate crime.[5][6]

2019 El Paso shooting
Patrick Crusius Video Surveillance Shooting.png
Surveillance camera screenshots showing the gunman at the Walmart entrance
El Paso is located in Texas
El Paso
El Paso
El Paso (Texas)
El Paso is located in the United States
El Paso
El Paso
El Paso (the United States)
Location7101 Gateway West Blvd.
El Paso, Texas, United States
Coordinates31°46′38″N 106°23′03″W / 31.7771°N 106.3843°W / 31.7771; -106.3843Coordinates: 31°46′38″N 106°23′03″W / 31.7771°N 106.3843°W / 31.7771; -106.3843
DateAugust 3, 2019
10:39 - 10:45 a.m. (MDT UTC−06:00)
TargetWalmart customers
Attack type
Mass shooting
WeaponsWASR-10
Deaths22
Injuries
24
MotiveAnti-immigration[1] Hispanophobia[1]

Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old from Allen in the Dallas metropolitan area, was arrested shortly after the shooting and charged with capital murder.[7] Police believe he published a white nationalist, anti-immigrant manifesto on 8chan shortly before the attack, citing inspiration from that year's Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand and mentioning the white genocide conspiracy theory.[8][9][10][11]

It is the deadliest mass shooting in the United States in 2019, the seventh-deadliest since 1949, and the third-deadliest in Texas.[12]

Contents

IncidentEdit

The incident occurred at a Walmart Supercenter near the Cielo Vista Mall on the east side of El Paso. The shooter walked into the store carrying what is believed to be a WASR-10 rifle,[13][14] a semi-automatic civilian version of the AK-47, and opened fire just before 10:40 a.m.[15]

An eyewitness claimed that the shooter was firing on customers in the parking lot before entering the Walmart.[16] The store manager issued a "Code Brown"; designating an active shooter, to his employees after witnessing the gunman begin to fire in the parking lot.[17] Many eyewitnesses told reporters that they originally believed the gunfire to be roof construction or fireworks,[16] before being alerted by other customers or employees.[18] To evacuate and hide from the shooter, many customers and employees fled to other stores in the adjacent mall, hid under tables,[19] or hid in shipping containers which were behind the building.[20]

Calls to 9-1-1 were placed, and first responders began to arrive within six minutes of the initial call.[21] The FBI's El Paso field office SWAT Team, the Dallas Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded to the scene along with the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Border Patrol’s BORTAC unit.[22] Other first responders were off-duty police officers.

After the shooting, the suspect, Patrick Wood Crusius, drove to a nearby intersection, where he identified himself as the shooter and surrendered to Texas Rangers[23] and an El Paso motorcycle officer.[24]

VictimsEdit

The shooting resulted in 22 deaths and 24 injuries. One victim died the day after the event, and another victim died two days after the event.[25] Among the dead were thirteen Americans, eight Mexicans and one German.[26] The names, ages and citizenships of the 22 dead were released by the El Paso Police Department on August 5. Seventeen were 56 or older, two were in their 40s, two in their 20s and one was 15.[27]

Thirteen victims were taken to the University Medical Center of El Paso,[22] and another eleven to the Del Sol Medical Center.[28] Two children, ages 2 and 9, were transferred from the former to El Paso Children's Hospital after their conditions were stabilized.[4] The Del Sol Medical Center patients were between 35 and 82 years old.[22]

SuspectEdit

Patrick Wood Crusius was arrested shortly after the shooting started, and was charged with capital murder.[4][7][29] A 21-year-old white male, he was last known to have lived in his family's home in Allen, Texas,[22][28][30] around 650 miles (1,050 km) from El Paso.[31] He graduated in 2017 from Plano Senior High School and was enrolled at Collin College from 2017 until spring 2019.[31]

According to Robert Evans on Bellingcat, the suspect's Twitter account portrayed a "relatively normal Trump-supporting Republican" up to April 2017, when the account stopped posting.[32][33] Police said he bought the gun used in the attack legally, but provided no details about the purchase.[34] Two law enforcement officials told ABC News that after the suspect was taken into custody, "he told investigators that he wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible".[35][36][37]

ManifestoEdit

"In general, I support the Christchurch shooter and his manifesto. This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion."

—Introduction of the manifesto, titled The Inconvenient Truth[38]

Police said that they are "reasonably confident"[8] that a manifesto published 27 minutes[4] prior to the shooting on the website 8chan's /pol/ board titled The Inconvenient Truth, is linked to the suspect. 8chan moderators quickly removed the original post, though users continued sharing copies.[32] It expresses support for and inspiration by the Christchurch mosque shootings, along with worry about a Hispanic invasion, military imperialism, automation, large corporations, and environmental degradation.[32][39][9]

The manifesto promotes the white nationalist and far-right conspiracy theory of The Great Replacement.[40] The New York Times characterized the manifesto as racially extremist, noting the passage: "Hispanics will take control of the local and state government of my beloved Texas, changing policy to better suit their needs." It states that Hispanics and their intermarriage with whites would cause the loss of purity of race. It criticizes strict gun control laws in Europe, arguing these would make them unable to repel immigrants.[11] It criticizes both the Democratic Party and Republican Party, saying that their politicians are either complacent or involved in the "takeover of the United States government by unchecked corporations."[33] However, the manifesto states that "at least with Republicans, the process of mass immigration and citizenship can be greatly reduced."[41] It warns that "heavy Hispanic population in Texas will make us a Democrat stronghold".[22] It also states that the Democratic Party's appeal to an increasing number of Hispanics in the country would ultimately ensure Democratic Party dominance in the United States, a notion that has been promoted on right-wing radio shows.[40] According to the document, the attack was meant to provide an incentive for Hispanics to "return to their home countries", thus dissolving "the Hispanic voting bloc" in the United States.[41]

Politicians and El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen mentioned the manifesto in updates with media outlets and press conferences in the early aftermath.[42][43] While the police have not confirmed its authenticity, the manifesto was posted to 8chan before the first public reports of the shooting and identifies the type of weapon used in the attack; the suspect's name was revealed in a separate document in the original 8chan post.[32] The owner of 8chan said that the shooter's alleged manifesto was not posted first to 8chan, but was from somewhere else, and that the killer did not post on 8chan. The owner suggested that the manifesto was instead posted on Instagram. Facebook, the owner of Instagram, said that the suspect's Instagram account had not been active in over a year.[44]

Legal proceedingsEdit

An August 4 arrest warrant affidavit says the suspect relinquished his Miranda rights and confessed to detectives that he targeted "Mexicans" during the attack.[45][23] On that same date it was determined that a San Antonio criminal defense attorney had been appointed to represent Crusius.[46]

There are multiple investigations and jurisdictions involved with the case. FBI officials in El Paso served multiple warrants in the Dallas area and interviewed acquaintances of Crusius in Dallas and San Antonio. The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas announced that the office plans to indict Crusius on hate crime, domestic terrorism and firearm charges, and federal prosecutors would seek the death penalty.[47]

AftermathEdit

 
Memorial for the shooting victims

Following the shooting, the Texas Department of Transportation provided information on how to donate blood.[48] Police set up a reunification center at MacArthur Elementary-Intermediate School.[49]

Several funeral homes in El Paso and Ciudad Juárez announced they would provide funeral services for free to the families of the victims as a sign of solidarity for their community.[50] Ciudad Juárez's Rotary International chapter organized a vigil in Ciudad Juárez. They gathered at a park and lit candles and shone cellphone lights in El Paso's direction as a sign of solidarity.[51]

Two days after the shooting, a Walmart employee sent an organization-wide memorandum urging employees to strike to force the corporation to stop selling guns.[52] Walmart issued a statement that the company would not be altering any form of gun-sale policies within its stores.[53] Walmart is reported to have retaliated against the employee by locking him out of his email.[54] Walmart also sent out a memo instructing workers to remove signs and displays that "contain violent themes or aggressive behavior."[55] The company also pledged $400,000 for funds that were aimed at helping the victims of the mass shooting.[56]

Antonio Basco invited the entire city of El Paso to his wife's funeral to be held on August 16, 2019.[57] Hundreds of people from El Paso and other parts of the country attended, and flowers were sent from around the world.[57][58]

ReactionsEdit

United StatesEdit

Trump makes a statement in Morristown, New Jersey, on August 4, 2019.
Trump makes a statement in Washington on August 5, 2019.

President Donald Trump condemned the shooting as hateful and cowardly later that day.[59] He promised that his administration would provide "total support".[48][60] In a later statement, Trump announced after the shootings in El Paso and in Dayton, Ohio, that all US flags, both domestic and abroad, would be flown at half-staff until sunset on August 8.[61] In a speech from the White House on August 5, Trump said: "In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America."[62] On August 7, Trump said he was "concerned about the rise of any group of hate", whether it was "white supremacy, whether it’s any other kind of supremacy, whether it's antifa".[63]

Within two days of the shooting, #WhiteSupremacistInChief reached the number one trend on Twitter as critics pointed out that statements in the suspect's alleged manifesto mirrored comments Trump had made in the past, including references to illegal immigration as an "invasion" and calls to "send [them] back". Media outlets also highlighted an incident in May 2019 where an audience member at a campaign rally suggested shooting illegal migrants crossing the border, to which Trump responded with a joke.[64][65][66] However, the alleged manifesto of the suspect stated that his opinions predate Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, and that he did not want Trump to be blamed for his attack.[41] Former President Barack Obama broke his self-imposed vow of silence on the new president's leadership to release the statement, "We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments," which has widely been interpreted as a criticism of Trump's specific rhetoric.[67] Trump's remark that violent video games contributed to such mass shootings, a view echoed by other politicians such as House Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy and Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, drew criticism from the video game industry, as past studies have found that no link exists between shootings and video games, and accused the government of using the medium as a scapegoat.[68][69][70][71]

U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, who represents El Paso in Congress, brought a town hall meeting in the city to an early close following the shooting.[72][73] Escobar later said there was also a hate epidemic, with domestic terrorism resulting from the dehumanization of others.[74] Texas Senator Ted Cruz issued a written statement deploring "this unspeakable evil."[75] Beto O’Rourke, a native of El Paso who represented the city in Congress from 2013 to 2019, said he was "incredibly saddened" but that "The [El Paso] community is going to stay together. Everyone's resolved to make sure this doesn't continue to happen in this country."[76] Texas Governor Greg Abbott called the shooting "a heinous and senseless act of violence".[48] Texas Senator John Cornyn said that gun violence would not be solved by focusing on law-abiding citizens.[77] Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said violent video games were partly to blame.[68]

Multiple Democratic 2020 presidential election candidates have called for political action to eliminate gun violence, including Cory Booker,[73] Pete Buttigieg,[78] Bernie Sanders,[79] Elizabeth Warren,[79] and Andrew Yang.[80] The incident also caused many celebrities and media figures to debate gun rights within the United States, with some condemning the perceived inaction of many political figures in stopping the large number of mass shootings in the country.[81] That same evening, Moms Demand Action, which had a meeting planned in Washington, DC, led a march and vigil outside the White House in support of gun control in the United States and the ban of assault weapons.[82]

In response to the shooting, some 8chan users claimed that the shooter was "our guy". The purported manifesto of the shooter, after being deleted, was re-uploaded by some users, while others commented that it showed "zero effort", or claimed that it was fake.[32] Following the attack, Cloudflare terminated its website security service for 8chan, commenting that "8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate".[83][84] The site later went dark after its server rental provider Voxility discontinued its service.[85]

’President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump Visits El Paso Texas’ - video from White House
 
Trump and the first lady with the family and baby son of El Paso shooting victims Jordan and Andre Anchondo.[86][87][88]

Trump visited El Paso and Dayton on August 7, intending to comfort those close to the victims and thank first responders. The president and first lady also met with the mayors of El Paso[89] and Dayton.[90] In El Paso, protesters showed up at the site of the shooting, with many disapproving of the visit and some claiming that Trump's attitude and statements had led to the shooting.[91][92] The White House published photos and a video of Trump's trip; in some photos, Trump was pictured smiling and giving thumbs up gestures, while the video was focused on Trump shaking hands and posing for photos.[93][94] Trump said that he had an "amazing day" of visits, praising the "love, the respect for" him as president.[95]

MexicoEdit

News report from Notimex about the shooting and memorials

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador extended his condolences to the families of the victims, both Americans and Mexicans.[96] López Obrador also criticized the "indiscriminate use of weapons" in the United States.[97] The Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE) identified the eight Mexican citizens killed, and the seven Mexican citizens wounded, in the attack.[98][96] The Mexican victims killed in the attack came from Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua Municipality, and Torreón, Coahuila.[99]

Javier Corral Jurado, the governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, offered his assistance to Texas governor Greg Abbott and El Paso mayor Dee Margo, and said that Chihuahua authorities were ready to assist in any capacity if needed by the U.S. government.[100] The Chihuahua government also directed Chihuahua residents and Mexican citizens affected by the attack to Mexico's Executive Committee for Victims (Spanish: Comisión Ejecutiva de Atención a Víctimas), and set up a phone line for Mexican citizens who needed assistance.[101] The Mexican Consulate in El Paso provided consular assistance to Mexican nationals affected by the attack,[102] and sent personnel to visit hospitalized Mexican victims treated at the hospitals. The SRE confirmed that the consul Mauricio Ibarra Ponce de León would coordinate with El Paso and Ciudad Juárez officials.[103]

On August 4, Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard announced that Mexico would issue a formal charge against the suspect for terrorism against Mexican nationals should Mexico's Attorney General's Office (FGR) support it, and possibly request his extradition from the U.S. to Mexico to face those charges.[97][104] If the suspect is charged with terrorism, it would be the first time in history that Mexico issues a criminal charge of this nature for a crime committed in the U.S. In addition, it would guarantee Mexico access to information about the case.[105][106] Ebrard also stated that the Mexican government would remain in contact with the victims' families throughout the investigation and trial, and that they would press charges against the individual(s) or firm who sold the weapons to the suspect.[107] Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón offered his condolences on Twitter, and also directed a message against Trump. He said that notwithstanding if the attack was confirmed to be a hate crime or not, that Trump should stop his "hate speech" and "stigmatization".[108]

InternationalEdit

UN Secretary-General António Guterres condemned "in the strongest terms the terrorist attack against Latinos on Saturday in the Texas city of El Paso" and called for everyone to work together to combat violence born of hate, racism and xenophobia. Recently the UN launched an action plan to "fight against discourses that incite hatred".[109]

The incident was mentioned by Pope Francis during a speech in St. Peter's Square on August 4, in which he condemned attacks on defenseless people and said he was spiritually close to the victims, the wounded, and the families affected by the attacks that had "bloodied Texas, California, and Ohio". The Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting happened in California around a week before the El Paso shooting, while the 2019 Dayton shooting occurred in Ohio less than 24 hours after.[110]

Uruguay and Venezuela issued travel warnings to avoid certain United States cities, including Baltimore, Detroit, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Memphis, and Oakland, citing "proliferation of acts of violence" and "growing indiscriminate violence, mostly for hate crimes, including racism and discrimination". Both countries warned their citizens to avoid any place with large crowds, including shopping malls, festivals, and "any kind of cultural or sporting events".[111] Japan issued a similar travel warning, advising its citizens to pay attention to the potential for gunfire "everywhere" in the U.S., which they described as a "gun society".[112] President Donald Trump threatened undefined retaliation against countries and organizations that issue travel warnings on the United States because of gun violence.[113]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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NotesEdit

  1. ^ Twenty of the victims died on the day of the shooting and two others died of their wounds in the following days.

External linksEdit