In­ves­ti­ga­tion on­go­ing into Texas shooting that left 20 dead

The Saline Courier - - COMICS -

EL PASO, Texas — The shooting that killed 20 peo­ple at a crowded El Paso de­part­ment store will be han­dled as a do­mes­tic ter­ror­ism case, fed­eral au­thor­i­ties said as they weighed hate-crime charges against the sus­pected gun­man that could carry the death penalty.

A lo­cal prose­cu­tor an­nounced Sun­day that he would file cap­i­tal mur­der charges, declar­ing that the al­leged as­sailant had “lost the right to be among us.”

The at­tack on Satur­day was fol­lowed less than a day later by an­other shooting that claimed nine lives in a nightlife dis­trict of Day­ton, Ohio. That shooter was killed by po­lice. To­gether the two as­saults wounded more than 50 peo­ple, some of them crit­i­cally, and shocked even a na­tion that has grown ac­cus­tomed to reg­u­lar spasms of gun vi­o­lence.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors fo­cused on whether the El Paso at­tack was a hate crime af­ter the emer­gence of a racist, anti-im­mi­grant screed that was posted on­line shortly be­fore­hand. De­tec­tives sought to de­ter­mine if it was writ­ten by the man who was ar­rested. The bor­der city has fig­ured promi­nently in the im­mi­gra­tion de­bate and is home to 680,000 peo­ple, most of them Latino.

Us­ing a ri­fle, the El Paso gun­man opened fire on shop­pers dur­ing the busy back-to-school sea­son.

The at­tack tar­geted a Wal­mart and did not spread to other nearby shop­ping areas, El Paso po­lice Sgt. Robert Gomez said.

Most victims were in­side the store. By Sun­day evening, all bod­ies had been re­moved from the store and the park­ing lot, po­lice said. They did not re­lease names or ages, though some fam­i­lies an­nounced that loved ones had been killed.

De­spite ini­tial re­ports of pos­si­ble mul­ti­ple gun­men, the man in cus­tody was believed to be the only shooter, po­lice said.

Law en­force­ment of­fi­cials iden­ti­fied him as 21-year-old Patrick Cru­sius from Allen, a Dallas sub­urb which is a nearly 10-hour drive from El Paso.

The sus­pect’s grand­par­ents, Larry and Cyn­thia Brown, is­sued a state­ment Sun­day evening. A fam­ily friend read the state­ment aloud outside the cou­ple’s home in Allen, KDFW -TV re­ported.

The Browns said they were “dev­as­tated” by the shooting and were pray­ing for the victims. The cou­ple added that while Cru­sius’ driver’s li­cense shows their Allen res­i­dence, he had moved out of the home six weeks ago. Cru­sius was liv­ing with his grand­par­ents while he at­tended nearby Collin Col­lege.

Cru­sius was ar­rested without po­lice fir­ing any shots and was jailed without bond, au­thor­i­ties said. There was no im­me­di­ate in­di­ca­tion that he had an at­tor­ney.

Gomez said Cru­sius sur­ren­dered af­ter be­ing con­fronted by of­fi­cers on a side­walk close to the scene. Po­lice did not know how many bul­lets were fired or why the at­tack stopped.

“We don’t have in­for­ma­tion on what prompted him to stop fir­ing,” Gomez said.

El Paso Po­lice Chief Greg Allen said the sus­pect was co­op­er­a­tive and “forth­com­ing with in­for­ma­tion.”

Po­lice said they did not know where the weapon was pur­chased. Allen ac­knowl­edged that it is le­gal un­der Texas law to carry a long gun openly in a public place.

“Of course, nor­mal in­di­vid­u­als see­ing that type of weapon might be alarmed,” but be­fore he be­gan fir­ing, the sus­pect was tech­ni­cally “within the realm of the law,” Allen said.

Rel­a­tives said a 25-year-old woman who was shot while ap­par­ently try­ing to shield her 2-month-old son was among those killed, as was her hus­band. Mex­i­can of­fi­cials said six Mex­i­can na­tion­als also were among the dead.

Mex­ico planned to take le­gal ac­tion against who­ever sold the gun to the sus­pect, the coun­try’s for­eign min­is­ter said. Gun own­er­ship is highly re­stricted in Mex­ico, re­quir­ing spe­cial per­mits, and gun shops are rare.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­nounced both shoot­ings, say­ing “hate has no place in our coun­try.” Ad­dress­ing re­porters in Mor­ris­town, New Jer­sey, the pres­i­dent said Sun­day that “we’re go­ing to take care” of the prob­lem. He said he’s been speaking to the at­tor­ney gen­eral, the FBI di­rec­tor and mem­bers of Congress and would make an ad­di­tional state­ment Mon­day.

Trump also pointed to a men­tal ill­ness prob­lem in the U.S., call­ing the shoot­ers “very se­ri­ously men­tally ill.”

Au­thor­i­ties searched for any links be­tween the sus­pect and the ma­te­rial in the doc­u­ment that was posted on­line, in­clud­ing the writer’s ex­pres­sion of con­cern that an in­flux of His­pan­ics into the United States will re­place ag­ing white vot­ers, po­ten­tially turn­ing Texas blue in elec­tions and swing­ing the White House to Democrats.

The writer also was crit­i­cal of Repub­li­cans for what he de­scribed as close ties to cor­po­ra­tions and degra­da­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment. Though 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 says his views on race pre­dated Trump’s cam­paign and that any at­tempt to blame the pres­i­dent for his ac­tions was “fake news.”

The writer de­nied he was a white su­prem­a­cist, but the doc­u­ment says “race mix­ing” is de­stroy­ing the na­tion and rec­om­mends di­vid­ing the United States into ter­ri­to­rial en­claves de­ter­mined by race. The first sen­tence of the four-page doc­u­ment ex­presses sup­port for the man ac­cused of killing 51 peo­ple at two New Zealand mosques in March af­ter post­ing his own screed with a con­spir­acy the­ory about non­white mi­grants re­plac­ing whites.

El Paso Mayor Dee Margo said he knew the shooter was not from the city.

“It’s not what we’re about,” the mayor said at the news con­fer­ence.

El Paso County is more than 80% Latino, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est cen­sus data. Tens of thou­sands of Mex­i­cans legally cross the bor­der each day to work and shop in the city.

Trump vis­ited in Fe­bru­ary to ar­gue that walling off the south­ern bor­der would make the

U.S. safer. City res­i­dents and Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Beto O’rourke, who is from El Paso, led thou­sands on a protest march past the bar­rier of barbed wire-topped fenc­ing and tow­er­ing metal slats.

O’rourke, a former Texas con­gress­man, stressed that bor­der walls have not 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.

Trump or­dered flags flown at half-staff in mem­ory of the victims of the two shoot­ings.

The shoot­ings in Texas and Ohio were the 21st and 22nd mass killings of 2019 in the

U.S., ac­cord­ing to the AP/USA To­day/north­east­ern Univer­sity mass mur­der data­base that tracks homi­cides where four or more peo­ple killed — not in­clud­ing the of­fender.

In­clud­ing the two lat­est at­tacks, 125 peo­ple had been killed in the 2019 shoot­ings.

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