At least 20 killed in mass shooting at shopping complex in El Paso, Texas
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'One of the most deadly days in the history of Texas'

At least 20 killed in mass shooting at shopping complex in El Paso, Texas

Gunman opens fire in crowded shopping center; police say many of the 26 people hurt have life-threatening injuries; suspect arrested

  • From left, Melody Stout, Hannah Payan, Aaliyah Alba, Sherie Gramlich and Laura Barrios comfort each other during a vigil for victims of the shooting August  3, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
    From left, Melody Stout, Hannah Payan, Aaliyah Alba, Sherie Gramlich and Laura Barrios comfort each other during a vigil for victims of the shooting August 3, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
  • People gather in Juarez, Mexico, Aug. 3, 2019, in a vigil for the 3 Mexican nationals who were killed in an El Paso shopping-complex shooting. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)
    People gather in Juarez, Mexico, Aug. 3, 2019, in a vigil for the 3 Mexican nationals who were killed in an El Paso shopping-complex shooting. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)
  • Edie Hallberg cries while speaking to police outside a Walmart store where a shooting occurred earlier in the day as she looks for her missing mother Angie Englisbee, who was in the store during the attack in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 3, 2019 (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
    Edie Hallberg cries while speaking to police outside a Walmart store where a shooting occurred earlier in the day as she looks for her missing mother Angie Englisbee, who was in the store during the attack in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 3, 2019 (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott (C) and El Paso Mayor Dee Margo (R) light candles after a vigil ceremony at Saint Pius X Church, following a deadly mass shooting, in El Paso, Texas, August 3, 2019 (Joel Angel JUAREZ / AFP)
    Texas Governor Greg Abbott (C) and El Paso Mayor Dee Margo (R) light candles after a vigil ceremony at Saint Pius X Church, following a deadly mass shooting, in El Paso, Texas, August 3, 2019 (Joel Angel JUAREZ / AFP)
  • Law enforcement officers make their way along a walkway to the scene of a shooting at a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3, 2019 (AP Photo/Rudy Gutierrez)
    Law enforcement officers make their way along a walkway to the scene of a shooting at a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3, 2019 (AP Photo/Rudy Gutierrez)
  • People arrive at MacArthur Elementary looking for family and friends, as the school is used a reunification center during the aftermath of a shooting at the Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall, August 3, in El Paso, Texas (Briana Sanchez/ The El Paso Times via AP)
    People arrive at MacArthur Elementary looking for family and friends, as the school is used a reunification center during the aftermath of a shooting at the Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall, August 3, in El Paso, Texas (Briana Sanchez/ The El Paso Times via AP)
  • Police tape strung across an intersection behind the scene of a shooting at a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday, August 3, 2019 (AP Photo/Rudy Gutierrez)
    Police tape strung across an intersection behind the scene of a shooting at a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday, August 3, 2019 (AP Photo/Rudy Gutierrez)

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A 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, many with life-threatening injuries.

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 a 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.

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen (L) listens during a press briefing, following a mass fatal shooting, at the El Paso Regional Communications Center in El Paso, Texas, on August 3, 2019 (Joel Angel JUAREZ / AFP)

“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.

Law enforcement agencies respond to an active shooter at a Wal-Mart near Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019 (Joel Angel Juarez / AFP)

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.

People arrive at MacArthur Elementary looking for family and friends as the school is used a reunification center during the aftermath of a shooting at the Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall, Saturday, Aug. 3, in El Paso, Texas (Briana Sanchez/The El Paso Times via AP)

US 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.

In the hours after the shooting, authorities blocked streets near a home in Allen that is associated with the suspect. Officers appeared to speak briefly with a woman who answered the door of the gray stone house and later entered the residence.

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.

Police tape strung across an intersection behind the scene of a shooting at a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019 (AP Photo/Rudy Gutierrez)

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.

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