(Bloomberg) -- The mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, which left seven Mexicans dead, is being considered an act of terrorism against the country’s community in the U.S., Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said.
The country’s consulate is working with the victim’s families, Ebrard said at a press conference on Sunday. Mexico will take legal action against whoever was responsible for selling the weapon and will follow the investigation closely, he said.
“This will mark the first time that Mexico condemns an act of the kind as terrorism,” Ebrard said.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he instructed Ebrard to explore legal measures to protect Mexican nationals in the U.S. after the shootings.
“I asked Marcelo Ebrard that in spite of the pain, we act responsibly,” Lopez Obrador said in comments at an event Sunday posted on Twitter. The country’s “indignation” will be translated into effective and expedited legal action that will demand conditions to protect Mexicans, Ebrard said in a video posted on Twitter.
Ebrard said the country’s attorney general is considering litigation and might look to extradite the shooter.
“For Mexico, this individual a terrorist,” he said. Mexico will also send a diplomatic note to the U.S. to ask in a “respectful but firm” manner that the government make a clear statement against hate crimes.
Police on Saturday arrested a 21-year-old Texas man suspected of opening fire with an assault rifle at a Walmart store a few miles from the Mexican border, killing at least 20 people. Authorities are investigating a possible link to an anti-immigrant document, with anger directed against immigrants and specifically against Mexicans.
Less than 24 hours after the El Paso shooting, a gunman in body armor killed at lest nine people and injured dozens of others in Dayton, Ohio. Ebrard said no Mexicans were hurt or killed there.
Mexico’s ambassador to the U.S., Martha Barcena, was among the many who condemned the attack. “The intentionality of the attack against the Latino and Mexican community in El Paso is frightening,” she tweeted Sunday. “Xenophobe and racist discourse has to stop. No to violence. No to hatred.”
The U.S. Justice Department is treating the case as domestic terrorism, spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said on Twitter. A conviction could entail the death penalty.
(Updates with the number of Mexicans killed and details from the press conference.)
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