EL PASO, Texas - Law enforcement officials said 20 people were killed and 26 were injured in a shooting Saturday in a busy shopping area in the Texas border town of El Paso, and a 21-year-old man was taken into custody.
Two law enforcement officials identified the gunman as Patrick Crusius of the Dallas area. The officials were not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation publicly, and both spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
LIVE COVERAGE: El Paso's ABC News affiliate
Most of the victims were shot at a Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall, El Paso police Sgt. Robert Gomez said at a news conference. He said the store was packed with as many as 3,000 people during the busy back-to-school shopping season.
"This is unprecedented in El Paso," said Gomez, who added that many of the injured had life-threatening injuries.
Police responded in the midmorning to an active shooter scene at the mall, near Interstate 10 on the east side of the city, and were advising people to stay away from the area and to look for missing family members at a school being used as a reunification area.
The mass shooting in El Paso 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.
Active Shooting Stay away from Cielo Vista Mall Area. Scene is Still Active. — EL PASO POLICE DEPT (@EPPOLICE) August 3, 2019
BREAKING: ATF is en route to assist @EPPOLICE at the scene of a reported shooting in the area of #CieloVistaMall in #ElPaso TX. Please stay away from the area and refrain from posting first responder activity on social media. https://t.co/uw3DEFZRJt pic.twitter.com/0KqUK5nmmI — ATF Dallas (@ATFDallas) August 3, 2019
Ryan Mielke, a spokesman for University Medical Center of El Paso, said 12 people were brought to the hospital with injuries, including one that died. Two of the injured were children who were being transferred to El Paso Children’s Hospital, he said. He declined to provide additional details on the victims.
Eleven other victims were being treated at Del Sol Medical Center, according to hospital spokesman Victor Guerrero. He said those victims ages ranged from 35 to 82.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the shooting “a heinous and senseless act of violence” and said the state had deployed a number of law enforcement officers to the city.
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
A family of three was among a dozen people waiting outside a bus station. They were trying to return to their car that was in a blocked-off Walmart parking lot.
“I heard the shots but I thought they were hits, like roof construction,” said Adriana Quezada, 39, who was in the women’s clothing section of Walmart with her two children.
Quezada said she saw four men, dressed in black, moving together firing guns indiscriminately. Police confirmed only one gunman.
Quezada’s 19-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son threw themselves to the ground, then ran out of the Walmart through an emergency exit. She said they were not hurt.
Police said by midafternoon that a suspect was in custody and the public was no longer in danger. Gomez said the suspect, who used a rifle, was arrested without incident. Police believe he was the “sole shooter” but are continuing to investigate reports that others were involved.
White House staff said President Donald Trump was briefed on the shooting and spoke about it with Attorney General William Barr and Gov. Abbott. “Reports are very bad, many killed,” the president tweeted.
Presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke appeared a bit shaken as he appeared at a candidate forum Saturday in Las Vegas shortly after news of the shooting in his hometown was reported.
O’Rourke, who said he had called his wife before taking the stage, said the shooting shatters “any illusion that we have that progress is inevitable” on tackling gun violence.
The Democrat 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 and do not bring it into our communities.”
“We have to find some reason for optimism and hope or else we consign ourselves to a future where nearly 40,000 people a year will lose their lives to gun violence and I cannot accept that,” O’Rourke said.
El Paso, which has about 680,000 residents, is in West Texas and sits across the border from Juarez, Mexico.
The city has become a focal point of the immigration debate, drawing President Donald Trump in February to argue that walling off the southern border would make the U.S. safer, while city resident 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 U.S. cities going back to 1997.
The El Paso Community Foundation has set up a fund to help the victims and their families.
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
In El Paso, the Texas Dept. of Public Safety is assisting local law enforcement & federal authorities to bring this tragedy to the swiftest & safest possible conclusion.
We thank all First Responders for their courageous response & urge all area residents to remain safe. https://t.co/H6UDwu81SY — Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) August 3, 2019
Recent fatal mass shootings
— May 31, 2019: Longtime city worker DeWayne Craddock opened fire in a building that houses Virginia Beach government offices. He killed 12 people and wounded several others before he was gunned down by police.
— Feb. 15, 2019: Gary Martin killed five co-workers at a manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois, during a disciplinary meeting where he was fired. He wounded one other employee and five of the first police officers to arrive at the suburban Chicago plant before he was killed during a shootout police.
— Nov. 7, 2018: Ian David Long killed 12 people at a country music bar in Thousand Oaks, California, before taking his own life. Long was a Marine combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan.
— Oct. 27, 2018: Robert Bowers is accused of opening fire at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during Shabbat morning services, killing 11 and injuring others. It’s the deadliest attack on Jews in the U.S. in history.
— June 28, 2018: Jarrod Ramos shot through the windows of the Capital Gazette offices in Annapolis, Maryland, before turning the weapon on employees there, killing five at The Capital newspaper. Authorities say Ramos had sent threatening letters to the newspaper prior to the attack.
— May 18, 2018: Dimitrios Pagourtzis began shooting during an art class at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. The 17-year-old killed eight students and two teachers and 13 others were wounded. Explosive were found at the school and off campus.
— Feb. 14, 2018: Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It surpassed Columbine High School as the deadliest shooting at a high school in U.S. history.
— Nov. 5, 2017: Devin Patrick Kelley, who had been discharged from the Air Force after a conviction for domestic violence, used an AR-style firearm to shoot up a congregation at a small church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing more than two dozen.
— Oct. 1, 2017: Stephen Paddock opened fire on an outdoor music festival on the Las Vegas Strip from the 32nd floor of a hotel-casino, killing 58 people and wounding more than 500. SWAT teams with explosives then stormed his room and found he had killed himself.
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