20 DIE IN EL PASO MALL RAM­PAGE

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY CEDAR ATTANASIO, MICHAEL BALSAMO AND DIANA HEIDGERD

A gun­man is cap­tured af­ter 20 peo­ple were killed and more than two dozen in­jured Satur­day in El Paso.

Twenty peo­ple were killed and more than two dozen in­jured in a shoot­ing Satur­day in a busy shop­ping area in the Texas bor­der town of El Paso, the state’s gover­nor said.

Mean­while, the po­lice chief said among the pos­si­bil­i­ties be­ing in­ves­ti­gated is whether it was a hate crime. Two law en­force­ment of­fi­cials who spoke to The As­so­ci­ated Press on con­di­tion of anonymity iden­ti­fied the sus­pect taken into cus­tody as 21-year-old Patrick Cru­sius of the Dallas area.

Po­lice said an­other 26 peo­ple were in­jured, most of them be­ing treated at area hos­pi­tals. Most of the vic­tims were be­lieved to have been shot at a Wal­mart near the Cielo Vista Mall, they said, adding that the store was packed with as many as 3,000 peo­ple dur­ing the busy back-to-school shop­ping sea­son.

“The scene was a hor­rific one,” said El Paso Po­lice Chief Greg Allen, who added that many of the in­jured had life-threat­en­ing in­juries. He said po­lice also had found a man­i­festo that may have been writ­ten by Cru­sius and posted on­line – one rea­son it was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated as a hate crime.

Res­i­dents were vol­un­teer­ing to give blood to the in­jured, while po­lice and mil­i­tary mem­bers were try­ing to help peo­ple who were look­ing for miss­ing loved ones.

“It’s chaos right now,” said Austin John­son, an Army medic at nearby Fort Bliss, who vol­un­teered to help at the shop­ping cen­ter and later at the school that was serv­ing as a re­uni­fi­ca­tion cen­ter.

Adri­ana Quezada, 39, said she was in the women’s cloth­ing sec­tion of Wal­mart with her two chil­dren when the shoot­ing hap­pened.

“I heard the shots but I thought they were hits, like roof con­struc­tion,” she said.

Her 19-year-old daugh­ter and 16-year-old son threw them­selves to the ground, then ran out of the Wal­mart through an emer­gency exit. They were not hurt, Quezada said.

She said she saw four men, dressed in black, mov­ing to­gether fir­ing guns in­dis­crim­i­nately. Po­lice later said they think there was just one shooter.

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.

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.

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.

“Re­ports are very bad, many killed,” Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump 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 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.

Heidi Beirich, di­rec­tor of the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter’s In­tel­li­gence Pro­ject, also said the El Paso shoot­ing sus­pect wasn’t on her group’s radar screen prior to the shoot­ing. “We had noth­ing in our files on him,” she wrote in an email. “Scary how young these shoot­ers have been. Al­most too young to even build a foot­print in the rad­i­cal right.”

This is the 21st mass killing in the United States in 2019, and the fifth pub­lic mass shoot­ing. Be­fore to­day, 96 peo­ple had died in mass killings in 2019 – 26 of them in pub­lic mass shoot­ings.

The AP/USATODAY/ North­east­ern Univer­sity mass mur­der data­base tracks all U.S. homi­cides since 2006 in­volv­ing of four or more peo­ple killed, not in­clud­ing the of­fender, over a short pe­riod of time re­gard­less of weapon, lo­ca­tion, vic­ti­mof­fender re­la­tion­ship or mo­tive.

The data­base shows that the me­dian age of a pub­lic mass shooter is 28, sig­nif­i­cantly lower than the me­dian age of a per­son who com­mits a mass shoot­ing of their fam­ily. Since 2006, 11 mass shoot­ings – not in­clud­ing to­day’s – have been com­mit­ted by men who are 21 or younger.

RUDY GUTIER­REZ AP

Most of the vic­tims were be­lieved to have been shot at a Wal­mart near the Cielo Vista Mall, po­lice said. They said the store was packed with as many as 3,000 peo­ple dur­ing the busy back-to-school shop­ping sea­son.

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