(EL PASO, Texas) — Twenty people were killed and dozens more injured on Saturday morning in a massacre at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart that was packed with back-to-school shoppers, making it one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, officials said.
The wounded ranged in age from a 2-year-old child to an 82-year-old.
The suspect was identified by authorities as Patrick Crusius, 21, of Allen, Texas. He is being held on a charge of capital murder, court records show.
The mass shooting came less than 14 hours before another gunman killed nine people and wounded more than two dozen more in a popular business district in Dayton, Ohio.
Crusius was “taken into custody without incident” and without any law enforcement officers firing their weapons, according to El Paso Police Department Sgt. Robert Gomez. He later told investigators he wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible, two law enforcement officials told ABC News.
The officials also said an assault-style rifle, similar to an AK-47, was secured at the scene along with several magazines.
At a news conference Saturday night, El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said 20 people had died and 26 more had been injured. Allen said authorities are examining what he called a “manifesto” they believe was written by the shooter and shows a possible “nexus” to a hate crime.
The majority of the victims were shot inside the Walmart, according to Gomez. More than 100 employees and between 1,000 and 3,000 Saturday morning back-to-school shoppers were inside the store at the time, according to a preliminary estimate.
A spokesperson for El Paso’s Del Sol Medical Center said 11 victims ranging in age from 35 to 82 were being treated at the facility. University Medical Center of El Paso received an additional 13 victims — two of whom were children, ages 2 and 9, who were stabilized and transferred to El Paso Children’s Hospital, according to officials.
Dr. Stephen Flaherty, director of trauma at Del Sol Medical Center, said at a news conference Sunday morning that three of the 11 patients brought to his emergency room remained in critical condition, some with major tissue wounds. He said eight other patients are in stable condition.
Flaherty said seven victims immediately underwent surgery, and some will need to undergo more surgery later Sunday and in the coming days.
David Shimp, CEO of Del Sol, began the news conference by expressing condolences to the families who lost loved ones in the Dayton mass shooting.
“The unfortunate reality is we now know exactly what they are going through as well and what a terrible, tragic series of events that have happened over the course of the past 24 hours,” Shimp said.
Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott ordered Sunday that all flags in the state be lowered to half-staff in memory of the shooting victims and remain lowered through Sunday, Aug. 8. In a proclamation, the governor called the mass shooting a “heinous and senseless act of violence.”
“The El Paso community was struck by a heinous and senseless act of violence today. Our hearts go out to the victims of this horrific shooting and to the entire community in this time of loss,” the governor said in a statement.
At 2 p.m. local time on Saturday, the El Paso Police Department issued a tweet making an urgent request for blood donations and directing local residents to two facilities run by Vitalent Blood Services where they could donate blood. Within three hours, photos posted to social media showed lines stretching around the block at locations accepting local blood donors.
Dr. Flaherty said it was important for volunteers to keep donating blood.
“It was a long day. Large volumes of blood and blood products were used,” said Flaherty. “We had a big need yesterday, but we’re going to have an ongoing need throughout the week.”
‘On a mission’
Allen, the police chief, said the first 911 call came in at 10:39 a.m. local time, and that emergency responders were on the scene at 10:45.
The shooting began in the parking lot outside the Walmart, according to an eyewitness who said she heard gunshots as she drove through the parking lot with her mother.
Shopper Vanessa Saenz described the shooter in an interview with ABC News Radio as dressed in cargo pants and a black t-shirt, wearing ear protectors and said he looked like he was “dancing.”
Moments later, Saenz saw a woman a few feet away fall to the ground.
She then described seeing victims near the shooter who became cornered — with nowhere to run — and then watched the gunman raise a rifle, aim it at them and start firing.
“The one thing I’ll never forget is the way he walked into Walmart, very confident. He was on a mission, and that’s when it hit me,” she later told ABC News Anchor Tom Llamas in an interview for World News Tonight.
At 12:11 p.m. local time, the El Paso Police Department had issued a tweet that said in part, “We have multi reports of multiple shooters.”
Police had reports that there were shootings at various locations within the mall, and initially said they had detained three suspects, but Gomez later clarified that just one person had been arrested.
“At this time, we do have one person in custody. We don’t believe there’s anybody outstanding,” he said.
The Walmart is located at the Cielo Vista Mall, one of the city’s most popular malls, particularly among Mexican tourists who cross the U.S. border to shop there before returning to Mexico.
At least three Mexican nationals were killed in the attack, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.
At 11:35 a.m. local time, the Dallas office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued a tweet saying ATF agents were responding as well.
Walmart issued a statement about the shooting on the retailer’s Twitter account.
“We’re in shock over the tragic events at Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso,” the statement said. “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.”
President Donald Trump has been briefed on the shooting and is monitoring the situation, according to White House Deputy Press Secretary Steven Groves.
In a tweet, the president said he had spoken with Gov. Abbott and pledged “total support of Federal Government,” before ending the message ‘God be with you all!’
“On a day that would have been normal for someone to leisurely go shopping turned into one of the most deadly days in the history of Texas. Lives were taken who should still be with us today,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told the evening news conference. “We as a state unite in support of these victims and their family members.”
Rep. Veronica Escobar, who represents Texas’s 16th Congressional District, said at the same event that while investigators must complete an investigation, the “manifesto” suggested the shooting could have been an act of “domestic terrorism.”
“The manifesto narrative is fueled by hate, and it’s fueled by racism and bigotry and division,” Escobar said. “This is someone who came from outside of our community to do us harm. A community that has shown nothing but generosity and kindness to the least among us — those people arriving at America’s front door.”
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