Texas Walmart shooting 'domestic terrorism'

3 months ago
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Texas Walmart shooting 'domestic terrorism'


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Media captionPolice were filmed responding to the shootings

A shooting at a supermarket in the US state of Texas that left 20 dead is being investigated as "domestic terrorism", officials say.

A 21-year-old white man was arrested where the attack took place in the city of El Paso, near the US-Mexico border.

He is believed to have posted an online document calling the attack a response to "the Hispanic invasion of Texas".

The man could face federal hate crime and firearms charges which carry a death penalty.

The suspect opened fire on a crowded Walmart with an assault-style rifle and surrendered after being confronted by officers outside the store. Saturday's attack also left 26 injured.

"We're treating this as a domestic terrorist case," US Attorney for the Western District of Texas John Bash told a news conference, saying prosecutors were "seriously" considering the federal charges.

The suspect is believed to be the author of a text posted on 8chan, an online message board frequently used by the far right, which describes a "cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion", alluding to Hispanic people in the US.

The four-page document, reportedly posted some 20 minutes before police received the first emergency call, also expresses support for the gunman who killed 51 people in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March.

The man, named by US media as Patrick Crusius, lived in Allen, in the Dallas area, about 650 miles (1,046km) east of El Paso. It is not yet clear how long before the attack he had gone to the city.

The attack

The shooting, believed to be the eighth deadliest in modern US history, took place in a city where most of the population of 680,000 is of Hispanic descent. It lies along the Rio Grande across the border from Ciudad Juárez in Mexico.

The victims have not yet been named but Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said three Mexican nationals were among the dead.

CCTV images said to be of the attacker show an armed man in a dark T-shirt wearing eye glasses and what appears to be ear protectors.

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Image caption CCTV images said to be of the gunman have emerged

Reports of an active shooter were received at 10:39 local time (16:39 GMT), and law enforcement officers were on the scene within six minutes, Mr Allen said.

The Walmart, near the Cielo Vista Mall, was full of shoppers buying back-to-school supplies at the time of the shooting, and witnesses described scenes of chaos as customers fled for their lives.

"People were panicking and running, saying that there was a shooter," Kianna Long told Reuters news agency. "They were running close to the floor, people were dropping on the floor."

Ms Long said she and her husband ran through a stock room before taking cover with other customers.

The attack came a few hours before another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio and six days after a teenage gunman killed three people at a California food festival.

The reaction

US President Donald Trump called the attack "an act of cowardice" on Twitter: "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."

On Sunday, he ordered flags to be flown at half-mast to mourn the victims in El Paso and Dayton.

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, an El Paso native, told CNN Mr Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric had stoked divisions: "He's an open avowed racist and is encouraging more racism in this country."

Also on CNN, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, another Democratic presidential hopeful, said: "Donald Trump is responsible for this. He is responsible because he is stoking fears and hatred and bigotry."

But acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney rebutted the Democrats' allegations and attributed the attacks to "sick" individuals, saying on ABC: "There's no benefit here in trying to make this a political issue, this is a social issue and we need to address it as that."

Mr Trump, whose made curbing illegal immigration one of the key points of his presidency, has previously made derogatory comments about Mexican migrants and has called large groups of migrants trying to reach the US as an "invasion".

In recent weeks, Mr Trump has been accused of racism after his attacks on members of Congress who are members of racial or ethnic minorities.

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Media captionAfter the Las Vegas attack in October 2017 the BBC looked at how US mass shootings are getting worse

The shooting refreshed calls for gun control in the US but Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said it would probably not have stopped the attack.

He added that if a "crazy" gunman launched such an attack, there was no way that law enforcement officers could be there to stop it, telling CBS News: "The best way is to be prepared to defend yourself."

The attack is the second deadly shooting to take place in a Walmart store this week, after an ex-employee of the company killed two former co-workers at a Mississippi branch on Tuesday.


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