Written By Melissa Barnhart, CP Reporter
Police said a white man in his 20s is in custody in connection with a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday morning. Multiple people were wounded and 20 people were killed.
The suspected shooter is 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, from Allen, Texas, north of Dallas. Law-enforcement officials confirmed that they would be looking into an online manifesto purportedly written by the suspect but they did not reveal what it said.
El Paso Police Department spokesman Sgt. Robert Gomez said there were between 1,000 and 3,000 shoppers at Walmart around the time of the shooting with 100 employees present. The store was “at capacity when the shooting started,” he said, because families were shopping for supplies before their children go back to school.
The shooting victims were between the ages of 2 and 82. Twenty-six people were wounded and 20 people were killed. The surviving victims are being treated at Del Sol Medical Center, the University Medical Center of El Paso, and Children’s Hospital of El Paso.
Gomez said the department is working with the ATF and FBI to investigate the crime scene. “This is a large crime, a large area, and we are systematically going through it,” he said.
He added that while there were reports of multiple shooters only one suspect has been arrested.
“We believe that he is the sole shooter,” Gomez said at Saturday’s second news conference. He added that the number of suspects could change because there were multiple reports of more than one shooter.
Some witnesses said they saw the shooter carrying a rifle, but one Walmart customer told Fox News that the shots fired sounded more like an AK-47, AR-15 or an M1 rifle. But Gomez said police didn’t yet know which type of gun the suspect had used in the shooting.
He also said the community was now safe because the lone suspect had been apprehended.
“We have secured Walmart and we have secured Cielo Vista Mall. We don’t feel that there is a threat to the public at this time,” Gomez said. When asked if the suspect had written a manifesto or if police knew the suspect’s motives for the crime, Gomez said they do not yet have that information. However, at a subsequent news conference — the third one of the day — authorities said the suspect had written a manifesto.
A spokesman for Walmart said they were working closely with law enforcement to assist with the investigation and provide video footage.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement that he and his wife, Cecilia, are praying for the victims, their families, and the community that was struck by this “heinous and senseless act of violence.” Abbott said he is traveling to El Paso Saturday, and that the state has “deployed troopers, special agents, Texas Rangers, tactical teams, and aircraft to the scene in a support role.”
Democrat presidential candidate Francis Beto O’Rourke said he would be leaving the campaign trail to return to El Paso and be with his family and lend his support to the community. Chocking up with tears, O’Rourke described El Paso as “the strongest place.”
President Trump also pledged the support of federal law enforcement, saying in a tweet, “Terrible shootings in El Paso, 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!”
The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, sent a statement to The Christian Post on Saturday saying, “The NHCLC’s community of thousands upon thousands of churches is profoundly grieving at the terror unleashed in El Paso today, terror targeting our nation’s beloved Hispanic community.
He added, “We urge our political leaders, Democrat and Republican, to once-and-for-all depoliticize immigration in this country and instead embrace a fact-based approach to this and to all political questions that divide us. Even more importantly, we call upon people of sincere faith in every corner of our country to recommit themselves to loving the ‘other’ and to begin to pray with all their might that God would heal our broken land.”
Saturday’s shooting marks the second time this week that a Walmart has been the scene of a shooting. “On Tuesday, in Mississippi, a Walmart employee, who had been suspended last weekend, shot and killed two other Walmart workers in the store,” The Wall Street Journal reports.