August 4, 2019, EL PASO, Texas (Reuters) – Police and FBI investigators in Texas searched for clues on Sunday to explain what drove a young gunman from the Dallas area to kill 20 people at a Walmart store hundreds of miles away in the border city of El Paso.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Saturday morning’s rampage appeared to be a hate crime, and police cited a “manifesto” they attributed to the suspect as evidence that the bloodshed was racially motivated.
The shooting immediately reverberated on the U.S. presidential campaign trail, with several Democratic candidates denouncing the rise of gun violence and repeating calls for tighter gun control measures.
At least two candidates, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and El Paso native Beto O’Rourke, a former congressman, drew connections to a resurgence in white nationalism and xenophobic politics in the United States.
“America is under attack from homegrown white nationalist terrorism,” Buttigieg said at a candidates forum in Las Vegas.
On Twitter, U.S. President Donald Trump branded the shooting “an act of cowardice,” adding, “I know that I stand with everyone in this country to condemn today’s hateful act. There are no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing innocent people.”
Police said the suspect opened fire with a rifle on shoppers, many of them bargain-hunting for back-to-school supplies, then surrendered to officers who confronted him outside the store.
The massacre came just six days after the last major outbreak of U.S. gun violence in a public place – a food festival in California where a teenager killed three people with an assault rifle and injured a dozen others before taking his own life in a hail of police gunfire.
The Texas killings were followed just 13 hours later by another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, where a gunman in body armor killed nine people and wounded 26 others early on Sunday in the city’s downtown historic district before he was shot dead by police.
Police said the suspect in Saturday’s shooting was a 21-year-old white male from Allen, Texas, a Dallas suburb some 650 miles (1,046 km) east of El Paso, which lies along the Rio Grande across the U.S.-Mexico border from Ciudad Juarez.
Multiple news media outlets, citing law enforcement officials, named the accused assailant as Patrick Crusius.
In a briefing for reporters on Saturday night, some 12 hours after the shooting, an El Paso police spokesman, Sergeant Robert Gomez, said police were interviewing the suspect, while investigators continued to collect evidence at the crime scene.