El Paso Shooting Suspect Told Police He Was Targeting 'Mexicans.' Here's What to Know About the Case

Tara Law
El Paso Shooting Suspect Told Police He Was Targeting 'Mexicans.' Here's What to Know About the Case

The suspect in the El Paso Walmart shooting confessed to officers after surrendering, said police

Patrick Crusius, 21, told officers “I’m the shooter,” after he was stopped in a vehicle at an intersection shortly after the shooting, according to the Associated Press.

After waiving his Miranda Rights, Crusius told detectives that he drove to El Paso from his hometown in Dallas, more than 10 hours away, to target Mexicans.

The grim death toll of the El Paso Walmart shooting increased to 22 on Monday after two victims died at hospitals.

The El Paso Police Department announced the death of one victim on Twitter Monday morning, and Del Sol Medical Center announced a second victim died on Monday.

“Sad to report that the number of fatalities increased by one. Victim passed early this morning at the hospital,” El Paso police said in a statement on Twitter about 9:30 a.m. local time.

The shooting on Saturday afternoon left 26 wounded.

Authorities said they are investigating whether the shooting was a hate crime. A manifesto that circulated online shortly after the shooting expressed hatred for Hispanic people and laid out a plan for a deadly attack on the Hispanic community in the United States.

Police said they have a manifesto and are working to verify whether the suspect wrote it.

Federal officials are also investigating the attack as a case of possible domestic terrorism.

At a Monday evening press conference, authorities said that among the 22 fatalities, 13 were U.S. citizens, seven were Mexican nationals, one was German and another was undetermined.

Earlier in the day, Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrand said that at least eight Mexican nationals are among the people who were killed, with Ebrard tweeting the names of the dead. “They tell me that unfortunately Juan de Dios Velázquez Chairez, from Zacatecas, has died. Our condolences to his family and friends. Eight nationals have died as a result of Saturday’s act of terrorism,” Ebrard tweeted.

At a Sunday press conference, the Mexican government announced it will pursue charges against the shooter, in addition to those filed by U.S. authorities.

Investigators have not officially released the identities of the victims yet, but several family members have gone public with the names of loved ones who died.

District Attorney Jaime Esparza said his office would pursue a state charge on capital murder for the suspect, which would make him eligible for the death penalty.

El Paso police said Sunday evening that all the bodies from the crime scene, which now comprises the Walmart and the parking lot, had been removed and transferred to the medical examiner’s office. Several bodies had to be left in place so authorities could conduct a full forensic investigation.

“All the bodies from the Walmart have been removed,” El Paso police spokesperson Robert Gomez told reporters at a press conference on Sunday evening.

Officials said the suspect has been cooperative. “He was forthcoming with information, he basically didn’t hold anything back,” Allen said.

Individuals that were evacuated sit in a parking lot across from a Walmart where a shooting occurred at Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019. | JOEL ANGEL JUAREZ—AFP/Getty Images

El Paso police said they received the first reports of an active shooter at 10:39 a.m. local time at the Walmart at Cielo Vista Mall. El Paso police spokesperson Sgt. Robert Gomez said that the Walmart was “at capacity” at the time of the shooting and that between 1,000 and 3,000 people were believed to be inside.

Police were on scene within 6 minutes.

Most of the victims were at the Walmart and police said they would begin to remove the bodies from the scene so the area could be reopened to the public.

Glendon Oakly told CNN that he saw children running around without their parents in the chaos of the shooting

“The only thing I think of is to just pick up as many kids I can as possible and there was another guy doing it as well,” Oakly told CNN. “I was just focused on the kids I wasn’t really worried about myself.”

The shooting comes less than a week after a gunman killed three people, including two children, and wounded 15 others at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in northern California.

El Paso Mayor Dee Margo called the situation an “absolute tragedy” in an interview with local TV station KTSM. “It’s a very tragic situation, it’s not something El Paso would expect.” Margo said.

Hours after the shooting, El Paso police tweeted out that blood was “needed urgently” at area hospitals and gave details on where El Pasoans could go to donate. In less than two hours, the blood bank Vitalant said it was at capacity because of the surge in donations. It said 240 units of blood had been sent to help the shooting victims. A blood bank in nearby Las Cruces, N.M. also announced it was at capacity after people lined up to donate blood there.

Here’s what we know so far about the mass shooting at the El Paso Walmart at Cielo Vista Mall.

People arrive at MacArthur Elementary looking for family and friends as the school is being used a re-unification center during the aftermath of a shooting at the Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall, Saturday, Aug. 3, in El Paso, Texas. | Briana Sanchez—AP

Who are the victims in the El Paso shooting?

Local hospitals have confirmed that they’re treating between 22 and 23 victims of the shooting, the AP reported. One victim died at University Medical Center El Paso after being transported there from the scene of the crime. There were 11 victims at Del Sol Medical Center.

As of 5:30 p.m. local time, nine of the victims at Del Sol Medical Center were in critical condition, with three facing life threatening injuries, according to the hospital. Two other patients are in stable condition.

Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard tweeted the names of seven Mexican nationals who were killed in Saturday’s shooting, and on Monday afternoon announced the name of an eighth person who was killed. “I lament the events that have occurred in El Paso, Texas, neighbor and brother to Ciudad Júarez and our country. I send my condolences to the families of the victims, American citizens as well as Mexicans,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador wrote on Twitter.

Who is the gunman in the El Paso shooting?

The suspect is Patrick Crusius, 21, officials said. He is from Allen, Texas, a Dallas suburb about 650 miles from El Paso.

El Paso police said that he was taken into custody “without incident,” describing him as a white man.

There were initial reports that there were multiple suspects and three people in custody, but those were not accurate, police said.

“At this time we have ruled out multiple shooters,” Gomez said at a press conference.

While the police are still trying to determine a motive, El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said that it could possibly be a hate crime. “Right now we have a manifesto from this individual that indicates to some degree as a nexus to a potential hate crime,” Allen said Saturday night.

What kind of weapon was used?

Gomez said there were reports that a rifle was used in the shooting, but that he couldn’t confirm what kind.

“Initial reports of the weapon was a rifle but I can’t confirm that yet,” he said said.

Allen, at Saturday night’s press conference, said he was aware of a photo that was circulating online that showed the alleged suspect holding what looked like an AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifle, but he would not confirm that the photo was legitimate.

Law enforcement agencies cover the exits of a Walmart where a shooting occurred near Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019. | JOEL ANGEL JUAREZ—AFP/Getty Images

How have people responded?

President Donald Trump responded to the shooting in a statement on Twitter.

“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!” Trump wrote.

He later condemned the shooting as an “act of cowardice” and a “hateful act.”

Walmart responded to the shooting in a statement on Twitter, confirming the location of the shooting.

“We’re in shock over the tragic events at Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, where store 2201 & club 6502 are located,” the company wrote. “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.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement confirming that state troopers, Texas rangers, special agents, tactical teams and aircraft have been sent to the scene. Abbott promised that Texas will work “to ensure that justice is delivered to the perpetrators of this heinous act.”

“Our hearts go out to the victims of this horrific shooting and to the entire community in this time of loss,” Abbott said. “While no words can provide the solace needed for those impacted by this event, I ask that all Texans join Cecilia and me in offering our prayers for the victims and their families.”

Police officers take security measures at the scene of shooting incident at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, United States on August 03, 2019. | Jonathan Yturales—Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Margo, the El Paso mayor, said, “Adair and I are devastated by the tragic events unfolding in our City. Our hearts go out to the victims and gratitude to our first responders.”

How have Democratic candidates reacted?

Beto O’Rourke

El Paso native and former Texas rep. Beto O’Rourke said President Donald Trump and his rhetoric about minorities has a direct connection with the shooting in the presidential candidate’s hometown. “He has tried to make us afraid of them, to some real effect and consequence,” he told reporters.

 

CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday asked O’Rourke if he thinks Trump is a white nationalist.

“Yes. I do,” he said. “The things that he has said both as a candidate and then as the President of the United States—this cannot be open for debate.”

O’Rourke, who had been campaigning in Las Vegas, cancelled his events to fly back to El Paso following reports of the shooting. On Twitter, O’Rourke wrote that his heart was broken for both El Paso and Dayton.

 

Back in El Paso, O’Rourke visited with victims who were shot.

Julián Castro

Fellow Texan and Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro said Trump “is making it worse,” when asked by Tapper if he agreed with O’Rourke that the president is a white nationalist.

“The person that is responsible for this shooting is the shooter. At the same time, if you’re in a position of leadership, you set the tone for the country,” he said. “There is no question that this President is setting a tone of division, and fanning the flames of bigotry and of hate. He’s not making it any better. He’s making it worse.”

On Twitter, Castro called attention to the widespread gun violence in the U.S.

 

Pete Buttigieg

The Democratic candidate and South Bend, Ind., mayor was outspoken on Twitter following reports of the El Paso shooting. “My grandmother used to take me to Cielo Vista Mall. Now it’s one more mass shooting scene,” he wrote. “How many more must grieve before we act?”

He echoed his fellow Democrats’ calls for action on gun violence while speaking on CNN.

“Every time this happens, we say never again,” he said. “I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that this same debate and same cycle has been going on my entire adult life. I wonder what it will take to deliver the sense of urgency.”

Joe Biden

Cory Booker

The New Jersey Senator said Trump “has been sowing this kind of hatred in our country” with his rhetoric of “invasions” and “infestations.”

“He is responsible. He is sowing these of divisions that are giving license to hatemongers,” he said on MSNBC. “His words have been fueling white supremacy and giving license to them, and we’re seeing the horrific results of hatred today.”

Following the El Paso shooting, Booker tweeted: “Enough. We need to end this national nightmare.”

Bernie Sanders

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called for immediate action and for the passage of common sense gun safety legislation.

Sanders noted the importance of recognizing the shooting as a white nationalist domestic terror attack.

 

Elizabeth Warren

Kamala Harris

The California senator had a message for Trump: “Have the courage to act. Do something. Do something. Because when I’m elected President, I’m going to do something.”

Amy Klobuchar

How can you help victims of the shooting?

The El Paso Community Foundation has set up a fund for people to make donations to help victims and their families. Per the fundraiser page, “The foundation will waive all administrative fees, and pay all credit card fees associated with this fund.”

A second relief fund is also being organized by the Paso Del Norte Community Foundation.

People in the El Paso area were also asked to give blood at Vitalant donor centers in the city. But with over 240 units taken in the hours since the shooting, Vitalant has announced on their Facebook page that they are at capacity and will not be accepting any more blood on Saturday.

However, the organization did say that they will need blood in the coming days and weeks for people that want to continue to help. “We will need your precious donations going forward for ongoing victim needs and to replenish supplies,” Vitalant – El Paso said in a Facebook post. Would-be donors are being encouraged to make appointments to ensure they will be able to make a difference.