At least 19 people have been killed and at least 40 others, including a four-month-old baby, were wounded after a gunman opened fire inside an El Paso Walmart Saturday.
One suspect is in custody. He has been identified in press reports as Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old man from Dallas. Crusius is allegedly the man seen in surveillance footage walking in through the front entrance of the Walmart with an AK-47 assault rifle.
The gunman is seen wearing what appears to be either headphones or ear defenders.
A second person was also taken into custody at the scene, however law enforcement have yet to confirm what role, if any, the person played in the shooting, NBC News reported.
Law enforcement sources told The Washington Examiner that Crusius ‘shot and killed locals that were fundraising outside the Walmart selling water. Children and adults.’
Reports on social media indicate that a manifesto written by the alleged shooter cited a ‘Hispanic invasion of Texas’ as the motive behind the massacre.
Crusius family home in Dallas is some 650 miles – or a nine hour drive – from the scene of the shooting in El Paso, a southern Texas city with a large Hispanic population.
The authorities have yet to officially confirm the identity of the suspect or the author of the manifesto.
The gunman surrendered his weapon when approached by law enforcement and was taken into custody ‘without incident’. Officers didn’t fire any shorts during the arrest, officials said.
Del Sol Medical Center said the hospital received 11 victims – nine of them listed in critical but stable condition. Two of those treated were in stable condition.
The University Medical Center of El Paso received 13 patients, a spokesperson said. Two minors, including a two-year-old, were stabilized and transferred to El Paso Children’s Hospital.
The victims’ conditions ranged from minor injury to fatal. Shortly after, Sgt. Enrique Carrillo, a police spokesman, said a suspect was in custody and there was no longer danger to the public.
A local NBC affiliate, KTSM-TV, is reporting that at least 18 people were killed. According to public records, Crusius’ last known address was his family’s home in Allen, Texas, where he lived with his parents, twin sister and older brother.
The home, around 30 minutes outside of Dallas and more than 9 hours away from El Paso, is reportedly being raided by police. It’s not clear if Crusius has any connections to the El Paso area.
A video of the suspect’s arrest was captured by a witness on Snapchat and has since circulated on various social media platforms. The man depicted in the video matches the description of the shooter and resembles the profile of Crusius.
Hawkins and Gateway are two streets that flank the Walmart. El Paso police later confirmed that the active shooter was inside the supermarket, according to USA Today.
At least three other businesses in the area were also on lock down, including a Red Lobster franchise and a Hooter’s location. One witness said he saw at least one person inside the store with a fatal head wound, and he saw shoppers in bloodied clothes.
Witness Miguel Rodriguez told The Daily Beast the gunman, ‘started shooting everyone, aisle by aisle, with rage.’ Witnesses told CBS 4 News they believe the suspect only stopped shooting because he ran out of ammunition.
Video posted on Twitter showed customers at one department store being evacuated with their hands up.
‘Hands in the air!’ an officer can be heard shouting in the footage. We heard shots and saw smoke,’ said Victor Gamboa, 18, who works at the McDonald’s inside the Walmart store where the shooting took place. I saw a man on the floor full of blood. He appeared to be dead. It happened very quickly.’
Gamboa said employees sheltered customers who huddled on the ground during the shooting rampage. They were on the ground for some 15 minutes until officers arrived and led the survivors to a Sam’s Club across the street.
A family of three was one of a dozen waiting outside a local bus station, trying to get back to their car, in 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 Walmart with in the women’s clothing section with her two children.
She said she saw four men, dressed in black, wearing shirts, moved together firing guns indiscriminately. ‘I saw four men, shooting everywhere,’ Quezada said. I told my son, those are gunshots.’
Her daughter, 19, and son, 16, threw themselves on the ground, then ran out of the Walmart through an emergency exit. They were unhurt.
Evan McMorris-Santoro, a reporter for the Vice news site, tweeted that he was at a town hall event for House Rep. Veronica Escobar when it was shut down due to the situation nearby.
Morris-Santoro clarified that the scene was ‘not close to us.’ Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. congressman who represented El Paso, tweeted: ‘Truly heartbreaking. Stay safe, El Paso.
‘Please follow all directions of emergency personnel as we continue to get more updates.’ After his tweet, O’Rourke said he was distraught by the news of the mass-shooting in his hometown.
An emotional O’Rourke told reporters on Saturday in Las Vegas that he had spoken by phone to El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, the city’s sheriff and U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar.
He says they were still learning details about the attack at or near the Cielo Vista Mall, in which police say multiple people were killed and a suspect was taken into custody.
O’Rourke said he planned to return home immediately to be with his family. He asked ‘for everyone’s strength for El Paso right now. Everyone’s resolve to make sure that this does not continue to happen in this country.’
O’Rourke’s successor, House Rep. Veronica Escobar, tweeted: ‘Utterly heartbroken by the developing news in El Paso. ‘Monitoring the situation and in communication with our law enforcement. Please stay safe.’
Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted: ‘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.’ The White House says President Trump has been briefed on the shooting and has spoken to Attorney General William Barr and Abbott.
Trump tweeted: ‘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!’
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo voiced his outrage over the shooting too, but also issued a damning indictment of Washington and the Trump administration for failing to take a hard-line stance on gun-control and against the NRA.
‘My heart breaks for the victims of the horrific shooting in El Paso earlier today,’ Cuomo began. While President Trump cowardly kowtows to the NRA, the gun violence epidemic is tearing apart our nation and people are dying. Thoughts and prayers will not stop this madness. In New York, we stand up to the NRA. We stand up for the safety of children. We stand up for sanity. It’s past time leaders in Washington did the same. Until they do, these senseless murders will continue,’ Cuomo added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also added they were praying for the friends and families of the victims and took the time to thank first responders for their life-saving work.
Both politicians also called for their DC peers to take action against gun-violence.
‘Too many families in too many communities have been forced to endure the daily horror of gun violence. Enough is enough,’ Pelosi said. ‘The Republican Senate’s continued inaction dishonors our solemn duty to protect innocent men, women and children and end this epidemic once and for all.’
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives announced that it has dispatched federal agents to the scene to assist local law enforcement. ‘Please stay away from the area and refrain from posting first responder activity on social media,’ the ATF’s Dallas bureau tweeted on Saturday.
A family that was shopping near Walmart during the shooting sought cover in nearby Landry’s Seafood, hostess Sofia Cervantes told USA TODAY.
‘They are in shock right now,’ Cervantes said. ‘They were barely able to talk to us.’ An employee of a nearby Olive Garden told The New York Times that the restaurant has also been placed in lock down.
At least 10 people ran into the restaurant seeking cover, the employee said. ‘We don’t have any information, just that there’s an active shooter at the Walmart in the same parking lot as we are,’ the employee said.
‘We’re just on lock down right now. The SWAT team just came in and told us that they had cleared the building and told us lock the doors.’ An assistant manager at a Men’s Wearhouse in the Cielo Vista Mall said at least 15 people came into the store when the shooting started.
Susana Franco said police officers, military and the SWAT team could be seen from her store’s front windows. ‘They’re not letting people in the parking lot,’ she said. ‘They’re trying to evacuate all of the mall.’
No one was shot at Cielo Vista Mall or on its property, according to Simon Property Group Chief Marketing Officer Mikael Thygesen. 4,000 people were said to be inside the facility at the time.
Thygesen says the shooting occurred on Walmart’s property and in the Walmart parking lot. The mall was put on lockdown as a result of the shooting, Thygesen said, but there is said to be no ongoing threat to the public at this time.
Walmart issued a statement on its Twitter account which read: ‘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.’
In an urgent call to action on Twitter,local authorities have urged members of the public to come forward to donate blood as the victim count of the massacre continues to rise.
At least two blood donation centers in the area are currently open: Vitalant Blood Services on 424 S. Mesa Hills Dr and on 1338 N Zaragoza Rd.