- US President Donald Trump condemns "terrible" shooting in El Paso, Texas
- Multiple gunmen possibly involved in shooting, one in custody, say police
- This was the second shooting in less than a week at a Walmart store in US
A gunman armed with an assault rifle opened fire on shoppers at a packed Walmart store in El Paso, Texas on Saturday, killing 20 people in the latest mass shooting in the United States.
"Twenty innocent people from El Paso have lost their lives," Texas Governor Greg Abbott told a press conference. "We as a state unite in support of these victims and their family members... We pray that God can be with those who have been harmed in any way and bind up their wounds."
El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen confirmed that in addition to the 20 confirmed fatalities, there were 26 wounded. Authorities in Texas are investigating the mass shooting as a possible hate crime, the 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.
"Right now we have a manifesto from this individual that indicates to some degree he has a nexus to potential hate crime," the police chief said at a news conference.
El Paso, on the border with Mexico, has a majority Hispanic population.
After speaking to the governor of Texas, President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that the "reports are very bad, many killed" while several Democrats hoping to defeat him at next year's elections said it was past time to tackle an "epidemic" of gun violence.
....Melania and I send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the great people of Texas.- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2019
As residents of the El Paso tried to absorb the full horror of what is being treated as a potential "hate crime," fresh calls rang out to end the nationwide "epidemic" of gun violence.
It was the second fatal shooting in less than a week at a Walmart store in the US and comes after a mass shooting in California last weekend.
One suspect was taken into custody while authorities were studying an extremist manifesto purportedly written by the gunman.
Footage shot on camera phones appeared to show multiple bodies lying on the ground in the store's parking lot while El Paso authorities made a desperate appeal for blood donations.
Other footage showed terrified shoppers running out of the store as gunfire echoed.
Two To 82 years
Police said that Walmart was "at capacity" at the time of the shooting, with 1,000-3,000 customers inside.
Various news reports said the ages of victims being treated at hospitals ranged from two to 82 years.
After officials initially said three people had been detained, police confirmed that one person from Allen, Texas, was the only person in custody.
"We believe he's the sole shooter."
US media named the suspect as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, who is white.
The "manifesto" purportedly written by Crusius that was circulated online includes passages railing against the "Hispanic invasion" of Texas and the author makes clear that he expected to be killed during his attack.
Witnesses said the gunman appeared to be shooting at random when he opened fire around 10:30 am.
A witness who gave her name as Vanessa said she had just pulled into the parking lot at Walmart when the shooting began.
"You could hear the pops, one right after another and at that point as I was turning, I saw a lady, seemed she was coming out of Walmart, headed to her car. She had her groceries in her cart and I saw her just fall," she told Fox News.
The witness told Fox that she had seen a man wearing ear muffs open fire.
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.— Walmart (@Walmart) August 3, 2019
"He was wearing a black t-shirt, camo colored pants. He was wearing something to cover his ears, like headphones, really thick ones.
"He was carrying a dark rifle and he was just pointing at people and just shooting and, yeah, the last thing I saw, he shot somebody that was in a corner."
After seeing the woman fall in the parking lot, "that's when I thought, okay, this is not -- these aren't fireworks ... He was just shooting randomly. It wasn't to any particular person. It was any that would cross paths."
Another shopper described how he managed to avoid being hit by hiding along with his mother between two vending machines just outside the store.
"That's where the individual tried to shoot at me, which he missed cause I kind of ducked down," Robert Curado told the El Paso Times.
'How You Doing, Brother'
Video captured by a witness in the parking lot at Walmart in the immediate aftermath of the shooting showed three people lying motionless on the ground.
One had fallen next to a truck, while two were on the sidewalk outside the store entrance. "Ambulance! Help!" people cried as they rushed to the victims.
"How you doing, brother, how you doing," one man was heard saying on the recording.
A still captured from CCTV showed the gunman carrying what appeared to be an AK-47.
Trump, who is spending the weekend at his golf club in New Jersey, condemned the "terrible" shooting and assured full support to Texas Governor Greg Abbott. He was briefed on the shooting by Attorney General Bill Barr and Governor Abbott, according to the White House.
Terrible shootings in ElPaso, Texas. Reports are very bad, many killed. Working with State and Local authorities, and Law Enforcement. Spoke to Governor to pledge total support of Federal Government. God be with you all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 3, 2019
It has been a particularly bad week for gun violence in the United States.
Two people died and a police officer was wounded Tuesday at a Walmart in Mississippi.
Statement on shooting in El Paso: pic.twitter.com/hsCXYGNLGg— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) August 3, 2019
Last Sunday a 19-year-old gunman opened fire at a food festival in northern California, killing three, including two children.
Beto O'Rourke, a former US congressman for El Paso who is now running for president, cut off his campaigning in the wake of the shooting.
"I'm incredibly saddened and it's very hard to think about this. But I tell you El Paso is the strongest place in the world, this community is going to come together," he said in a speech to supporters.
Elizabeth Warren, a senator who is among the frontrunners for the Democratic party's presidential nomination, said "far too many communities have suffered through tragedies like this already.
"We must act now to end our country's gun violence epidemic," she said.
Another presidential hopeful Cory Booker said the US had "to end this national nightmare."
"Praying for everyone affected by this unspeakable tragedy, and for our country to find the moral courage to take action to end this carnage."
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