US grieves for shooting victims
● Anti-immigrant racist rant posted online before 20 killed and 26 hurt
Melody Stout and Hannah Payan comfort each other during a vigil for victims of the shooting at a shopping centre in El Paso, Texas – one of two mass killings in the United States in less than 24 hours.
A man has been charged with murder after 20 people were killed and more than two dozen injured in Texas.
The gunman, armed with a rifle, opened fire in an El Paso shopping centre packed with up to 3,000 people during the busy back-to-school season.
Hours later, another shooting in Dayton, Ohio, claimed nine lives. That gunman was killed by police.
Authorities were investigating whether Saturday’s El Paso attack was a hate crime after the emergence of a racist, anti-immigrant rant was posted online shortly beforehand.
The border city has figured prominently in the immigration debate and is home to 680,000 people, most of them Latino.
Federal authorities were treating the attack as a domes tic terrorism case, according to the US attorney.
Two law enforcement officials identified the gunman as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius.
Authorities did not release his name at a press conference but said he had been arrested without police firing any shots. He is from Allen, which is a ten-hour drive from El Paso.
The suspect was booked on capital murder charges, according to jail records. The district attorney said that officials would seek the death penalty.
The Justice Department was weighing federal hate crime charges that would carry the potential for the federal death penalty, according to a person familiar with the department’s decision-making process.
Police say more than two dozen people were wounded in the attack at a shopping area about five miles from the main border checkpoint with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Many of the victims were shot at a branch of Walmart.
“The scene was a horrific one,” El Paso police chief Greg Allen said, adding that many of the 26 people who were hurt had life-threatening injuries.
Relatives said a 25-year-old woman who was shot while trying to shield her twomonth-old son was among those killed.
Officials said three Mexicans were among the dead and six more were wounded.
Ryan Mielke, a spokesman for the University Medical Centre of El Paso, said 13 of the wounded – including one who died – had been taken to the hospital.
Two of the injured were chil dren who were transferred to El Paso Children’s Hospital, he said.
Eleven other victims aged 35 to 82 were being treated at Del Sol Medical Centre, hospital spokesman Victor Guerrero said.
Residents quickly volunteered to give blood to the injured.
President Donald Trump tweeted: “God be with you all!”
In a document that was posted online shortly before the shooting, the writer expressed concern that an influx of Hispanics into the US will replace ageing white voters, potentially turning Texas blue in forthcoming elections and swinging the White House to the Democrats.
The writer was also critical of Republicans for what he described as close ties to corporations and degradation of the environment.
Although a Twitter account that appears to belong to Crusius included pro-trump posts praising the plan to build more border wall, the writer of the online document said his views on race predated Mr Trump’s campaign and that any attempt to blame the president for his actions was “fake news”.
The first sentence of the four page document express es support for them an accused of killing 51 people at two New Zealand mosques in March after posting his own screed with a conspiracy theory about non-white migrants replacing whites.
The shooting was the 21st mass killing in the US in 2019 and the fifth public mass shooting.
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