Twenty people were killed and dozens more injured on Saturday morning in a massacre at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart that was packed with back-to-school shoppers, making it one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, officials said.
The wounded ranged in age from a 2-year-old child to an 82-year-old victim.
The suspect was identified by authorities and court system records as Patrick Crusius, 21, of Allen, Texas.
He was “taken into custody without incident” and without any law enforcement officers firing their weapons, according to El Paso Police Department Sgt. Robert Gomez. He later told investigators he wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible, two law enforcement officials told ABC News.
The officials also said an assault-style rifle, similar to an AK-47, was secured at the scene along with several magazines.
At a news conference on Saturday night, El Paso police chief Greg Allen said that 20 people had died and 26 more had been injured. Allen said authorities are examining what he called a “manifesto” that they believe was written by the shooter and shows a possible “nexus” to a hate crime.
The majority of the victims were shot inside the Walmart, according to Gomez. More than 100 employees and between 1,000 and 3,000 Saturday morning back-to-school shoppers were inside the store at the time, according to a preliminary estimate.
A spokesperson for El Paso’s Del Sol Medical Center said that 11 victims ranging in age from 35 to 82 were being treated at the facility. University Medical Center of El Paso received an additional 13 victims — two of whom were children, ages 2 and 9, who were stabilized and transferred to El Paso Children’s Hospital, according to officials.
A hospital spokesperson said that nine patients were in critical condition and three had life-threatening injuries.
At 2 p.m. local time, the El Paso Police Department issued a tweet making an urgent request for blood donations, and directing local residents to two facilities run by Vitalent Blood Services where they could donate blood. Within three hours, photos posted to social media showed lines stretching around the block at locations accepting local blood donors.
‘On a mission’
Allen, the police chief, said the first 911 call came in at 10:39 a.m. local time, and that emergency responders were on the scene at 10:45.
The shooting began in the parking lot outside the Walmart, according to an eyewitness who said she heard gunshots as she drove through the parking lot with her mother.
Shopper Vanessa Saenz described the shooter in an interview with ABC News Radio as dressed in cargo pants and a black t-shirt, wearing ear protectors and said he looked like he was “dancing.”
Moments later, Saenz saw a woman a few feet away fall to the ground.
She then described seeing victims near the shooter who became cornered — with nowhere to run — and then watched the gunman raise a rifle, aim it at them and start firing.
“The one thing I’ll never forget is the way he walked into Walmart, very confident. He was on a mission and that’s when it hit me,” she later told ABC News anchor Tom Llamas in an interview for “World New Tonight.”
At 12:11 p.m. local time, the El Paso Police Department had issued a tweet that said in part, “We have multi reports of multiple shooters.”
Scene is still Active. We have multi reports of multiple shooters. Please avoid area police conducting search of a very large area. Media staging will be given when area is secure.
— EL PASO POLICE DEPT (@EPPOLICE) August 3, 2019
Police had reports that there were shootings at various locations within the mall, and initially said they had detained three suspects, but Gomez later clarified that just one person had been arrested. “At this time, we do have one person in custody. We don’t believe there’s anybody outstanding,” he said. The Walmart is located at the Cielo Vista Mall, one of the city’s most popular malls, particularly among Mexican tourists who cross the U.S. border to shop there before returning to Mexico. At least three Mexican nationals were killed in the attack, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.
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. https://t.co/H6UDwu81SY
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) August 3, 2019
At 11:35 a.m local time, the Dallas office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued a tweet saying ATF agents were responding as well.
Blood needed urgently. Multiple injured transported to various hospitals. Blood donation centers Vitalent Blood Services at 424 s Mesa Hills and 133 N Zaragoza
— EL PASO POLICE DEPT (@EPPOLICE) August 3, 2019
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.
— Walmart (@Walmart) August 3, 2019
Walmart issued a statement about the shooting on the retailer’s Twitter account.
“We’re in shock over the tragic events at Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso,” the statement said. “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.”
President Donald Trump has been briefed on the shooting and is monitoring the situation, according to White House Deputy Press Secretary Steven Groves.
In a tweet, the president said he had spoken with Gov. Abbott and pledged “total support of Federal Government,” before ending the message ‘God be with you all!’
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 3, 2019
“On a day that would have been a normal for someone to leisurely go shopping turned into one of the most deadly days in the history of Texas. Lives were taken who should still be with us today,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told the evening news conference. “We as a state unite in support of these victims and their family members.”
Rep. Veronica Escobar, who represents Texas’s 16th Congressional District, said at the same event that while investigators must complete an investigation, the “manifesto” suggested the shooting could have been an act of “domestic terrorism.”
“The manifesto narrative is fueled by hate, and it’s fueled by racism and bigotry and division,” Escobar said. “This is someone who came from outside of our community to do us harm. A community that has shown nothing but generosity and kindness to the least among us — those people arriving at America’s front door.”
— ABC News