Walmart to stop selling ammunition for handguns, assault-style weapons

FILE PHOTO: Walmart's logo is seen outside one of the stores in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

(Reuters) – Walmart Inc said on Tuesday it would discontinue sales of ammunition for handguns and some assault-style rifles in stores across the United States, in response to the recent mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

The largest U.S. arms retailer, which has been under pressure to change its policies on gun sales, also said it would discontinue handgun sales in Alaska, the only state where it still sells these guns.

Walmart has already ended sales of assault rifle and raised the minimum age for gun purchases to 21. The latest move will leave it focused on weapons for hunting, including deer rifles, shotguns and related ammunition.

The company will stop selling all handgun ammunition and some short-barrel rifle ammunition, such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber after clearing current stock. While short-barrel ammunition is commonly used in some hunting rifles for small animals such as prairie dogs, they can also be used in military-style weapons with high-capacity magazines.

The retailer said it took the action following the death of 22 people in a mass shooting in a Walmart store in Texas as well as deadly shootings in Ohio and Saturday’s incident in Midland and Odessa, Texas.

Just last month, the company said it would not change its policy on selling firearms even as it took down signs and playable demos of violent video games.

“As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same,” Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said in a letter to Walmart’s associates.

The company added that its latest actions would reduce its market share of ammunition from around 20% to a range of about 6% to 9%, and would trend toward the lower end of that range over time.

McMillon said he would send letters to the White House and the Congressional leadership, urging the government to strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who could pose an imminent danger.

“These horrific events occur and then the spotlight fades … Given our decades of experience selling firearms, we are also offering to serve as a resource in the national debate on responsible gun sales,” he said.

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

Most Americans expect next mass shooting to happen in next three months: Reuters/Ipsos poll

Mourners taking part in a vigil at El Paso High School after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 3, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

By Maria Caspani

(Reuters) – Nearly half of all Americans expect another mass shooting will happen soon in the United States, according to a Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll released on Friday, as the nation reels from rampages in California, Texas and Ohio.

The Aug. 7-8 survey found that 78% of Americans said it was likely that such an attack would take place in the next three months, including 49% who said one was “highly likely.” Another 10% said a mass shooting was unlikely in three months and the rest said they did not know.

The poll was conducted after two mass shootings earlier in August in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, and a third in Gilroy, California, last month that left 36 people dead. The attacks have rattled the country and renewed calls for tougher gun laws.

“You are on guard because you never know when it’s going to happen and where,” said Suzanne Fink, 59, a Republican from Troutman, North Carolina. “It has been happening much too often and it’s like a copycat effect.”

There is no set definition of a mass shooting, but the nonprofit organization Gun Violence Archive has tallied more than 250 such incidents so far this year alone – for an average of more than one a day – a widely cited figure that counts events in which four or more people were either shot and killed or shot and wounded.

Following the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, Democrats, including several 2020 presidential candidates criticized Republican President Donald Trump for rhetoric they labeled as racist and hard-line immigration polices, saying they stoked violence.

Former Texas congressman and presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke on Wednesday called the shooting in El Paso “an act of terror inspired by your racism” in response to a tweet by Trump.

The president, who condemned “sinister ideologies” and hate in a televised speech on Monday, has expressed support for tightening background checks for gun purchases.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday he would not call the Senate back early to consider new gun legislation, rejecting a plea from more than 200 U.S. mayors, including two whose cities endured mass shootings last weekend.

According to the poll, 69% of U.S. adults want “strong” or “moderate” restrictions placed on firearms.

The poll also found that half of all Americans, including two-thirds of Democrats and a third of Republicans, believe that “the way people talk about immigration encourages acts of violence.”

A majority of U.S. adults considers “random acts of violence,” including mass shootings, to be the biggest threat to their safety, while one in four pointed to politically or religiously motivated domestic terrorism as the biggest safety threat. About one in six cited foreign terrorism.

People cited mental health, racism and bigotry and easy access to firearms as the top three causes of mass shootings in the United States, while only about one in six – and one in four Republicans – said in the poll that video games were to blame.

In his speech on Monday, Trump mentioned video games and mental illness as factors in mass shootings. Research studies have shown little or no link between violent video games and shootings.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,116 adults and has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani; Editing by Chris Kahn and Jonathan Oatis)

FBI opens domestic terror investigation into Gilroy, Calif., mass shooting

FILE PHOTO: A painting by Gilroy resident Ignacio "Nacho" Moya on the stage at a vigil for those who died and were injured at the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival a day earlier, in Gilroy, California, U.S. July 29, 2019. REUTERS/Kate Munsch

By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) – The FBI has opened a domestic terrorism investigation into a California mass shooting by a 19-year-old gunman who killed three people at a food festival last week, officials said on Tuesday.

Authorities have said they still do not know what motivated Santino William Legan, 19, to fire an assault-style rifle into a crowd in Gilroy, California, on July 28. His victims included a 6-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl.

Police officers exchanged gunfire with Legan, who was wearing a bullet-resistant vest, and struck him, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said at a news conference on Tuesday. Legan killed himself with a gunshot to the head.

Investigators have discovered he kept a list that appeared to have targets of violence, John Bennett, the FBI agent in charge in the San Francisco office, told the news conference.

One of those potential targets was the one he attacked, the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival, Bennett said. The decades-old event celebrates produce from California’s countryside and is held about 70 miles (110 km) south of San Francisco.

“The shooter appeared to have an interest in varying, competing violent ideologies,” Bennett told reporters.

“Due to the discovery of the target list, as well as other information we have encountered in this investigation, the FBI has opened a full domestic terrorism investigation into this mass shooting.”

RACIST TREATISE

Before the shooting, Legan had posted on his Instagram page a photograph showing a sign warning of a high danger of forest fires. Its caption urged people to read “Might is Right,” a racist and sexist treatise written in the 19th century.

FBI investigators are considering Legan’s Instagram posts as they seek to determine his motivation and are exploring whether he was motivated by white nationalism, Bennett said.

Legan’s target list, which he kept on at least one digital device, had organizations from across the country and included religious institutions and political organizations affiliated with both the Democratic and Republican parties, Bennett said.

Legan left no manifesto, Bennett said, declining to provide other details on his ideological leanings.

Legan fired 39 rounds and the three officers who confronted him fired 18, Smithee said, and Legan had more than 200 rounds of ammunition on or near his body.

Legan’s family in a statement on Tuesday apologized to the families of the three people he killed and to the wounded, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“We have never and would never condone the hateful thoughts and ideologies that led to this event, and it is impossible to reconcile this with the son we thought we knew,” the statement said.

Members of Legan’s family could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; editing by Bill Tarrant and Jonathan Oatis)

Texas shooting suspect’s mother alerted police about his gun ownership: CNN

A group of people hold candles during a vigil at a memorial four days after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare

(Reuters) – The Dallas-area mother of the young man arrested in the mass shooting that killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas, had called police weeks earlier expressing concern about his fitness to own an assault-style rifle, CNN said on Wednesday.

The mother contacted the Allen Police Department because she worried whether her son, aged 21, was mature or experienced enough in handling such a weapon to have purchased an “AK”-type firearm, CNN said, citing lawyers for the suspect’s family.

CNN quoted the lawyers, Chris Ayres and R. Jack Ayres, as saying the mother’s call was “informational” in nature rather than motivated by concern that her son posed a threat to anyone.

“This was not a volatile, explosive, erratic-behaving kid,” Chris Ayres told the network. “It’s not like alarm bells were going off.”

CNN said it was not known whether the gun the mother inquired about was the same weapon police said was used in Saturday’s attack. Authorities have said they are investigating the attack as a hate crime and an act of domestic terrorism.

Police say the suspect, Patrick Crusius, a white male from the Dallas suburb of Allen, drove some 650 miles (1,046 km) to the west Texas border city of El Paso before opening fire at a Walmart store there.

Most of the 22 people killed were Hispanic, including eight Mexican citizens. At least two dozen people were injured. The suspect, who surrendered to police, has been charged with capital murder.

A racist, anti-immigrant manifesto believed by authorities to have been written by the suspect was posted online shortly before the attack, which the author called a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

During his mother’s query to Allen police weeks earlier, according to her attorneys, she was transferred to a public safety officer who told her that based on her description of her son, he was legally allowed to buy the weapon in question, CNN said.

The mother, the lawyers told the network, did not give police her son’s name, and police did not seek any additional information from her before the call ended.

Attempts by Reuters to reach the attorneys cited in CNN’s story on Wednesday night were unsuccessful. Allen police were also not immediately available to discuss the report.

A statement posted by Allen police on Twitter this week, in response to media inquiries about the suspect’s prior encounters with law enforcement, listed just three relatively minor contacts in department records.

The most recent, in March, was a false burglar alarm reported by the suspect at his grandparents’ home, a call police said “was cleared without incident according to protocol.”

In 2016, the suspect was a passenger on a school bus involved in a minor accident investigated by police, and in 2014, he was reported as a juvenile runaway, but returned home without incident about 30 minutes later, police said.

Police told CNN those three incidents represent “the entirety of our dealings with Mr. Crusius, in any capacity, be it suspect, witness, reporting party, or in any other manner.”

CNN quoted an unnamed source familiar with the family as describing Crusius as undecided about his life, having considered transferring from a community college to a four-year university, enlisting in the military and seeking a full-time job.

“He was trying to figure out what to do next,” the source said. “When did the wheels come off? We don’t know.”

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Heading to El Paso, Trump nixes assault weapons ban, supports stronger background checks

A woman kneels at a memorial three days after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 6, 2019. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare

By Nandita Bose and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump dismissed legislation to ban assault rifles as politically unfeasible on Wednesday as he prepared to visit the sites of two deadly mass shootings that shocked the country and drew criticism of his anti-immigrant rhetoric.

As he left the White House, Trump said he wanted to strengthen background checks for gun purchases and make sure mentally ill people did not carry guns. He predicted congressional support for those two measures but not for banning assault rifles.

“I can tell you that there is no political appetite for that at this moment,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “But I will certainly bring that up … There is a great appetite, and I mean a very strong appetite, for background checks.”

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he departs on travel to Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas following back-to-back mass shootings in the cities, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he departs on travel to Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas following back-to-back mass shootings in the cities, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The president faced an uncertain welcome on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio, where nine people and the suspect were killed in a rampage early on Sunday and in El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were killed at a Walmart store on Saturday before the gunman was taken alive.

The back-to-back massacres, occurring 13 hours apart, have reopened the national debate over gun safety and led protesters in Dayton to heckle Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, at a vigil for the shooting victims with chants of “Do something!”

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat, said on Tuesday she would welcome the Republican president, who has said he wants to meet law enforcement, first responders and survivors.

But Whaley said she planned to tell Trump “how unhelpful he’s been” on the issue of gun violence, referring to the speech he gave on Monday focusing on mental health reform, tighter internet regulation and wider use of the death penalty.

Critics have said Trump stokes violence with racially incendiary rhetoric. The El Paso massacre is being investigated as a hate crime and the FBI said the Dayton shooter had explored violent ideologies.

Democrats accuse Trump of hiding behind talk of mental illness and the influence of social media rather than committing to laws they insist are needed to restrict gun ownership and the types of weapons that are legal.

In Iowa, Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden planned to say, “We have a president with a toxic tongue who has publicly and unapologetically embraced a political strategy of hate, racism, and division.”

In a sign of higher tensions after the shootings, a motorcycle backfiring on Tuesday night in New York’s Times Square sent crowds running for fear of another gun attack. “People are obviously very frightened,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told CNN.

Authorities in Texas have said they are investigating Saturday’s shooting spree in the predominantly Hispanic west Texas border city of El Paso as a hate crime and an act of domestic terrorism. They cited a racist manifesto posted online shortly before the shooting, which they attributed to the suspect.

An open letter to Trump on Wednesday in the El Paso Times described the border city as having “a deep tradition of racial harmony” whose people came together after the tragedy. It admonished Trump for calling El Paso one of the country’s most dangerous cities in his February State of the Union address.

“The violence that pierced El Paso, drawing you here today, is not of our own community,” wrote editor Tim Archuleta. “An outsider came here to shatter our city, to murder our neighbors. A white man from another Texas city came to target the more than 80% of us who share Hispanic roots.”

‘SINISTER IDEOLOGIES’

Trump, in his televised White House speech on Monday, condemned “sinister ideologies” and hate. His supporters say Democrats unfairly blame him for the behavior of criminals.

Democrats say Trump’s own anti-immigrant, racially charged language at rallies and on Twitter has done much to fan racist, white nationalist sentiments, creating a political climate more conducive to hate-based violence.

U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, a Democrat whose congressional district includes El Paso, declared that Trump “is not welcome here.”

Trump staged his first political rally of 2019 in El Paso in February.

She said on Twitter on Tuesday she declined a White House invitation to join Trump in El Paso after being told he was too busy to speak with her by phone in advance. “I refuse to be an accessory to his visit,” Escobar later told CNN.

Former Texas congressman and El Paso native Beto O’Rourke, who is seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, said Trump “helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible” and thus “has no place here.”

In an apparent answer to his criticism, Trump said on Twitter late on Tuesday O’Rourke “should respect the victims & law enforcement – & be quiet!”

Not everyone agreed that Trump should stay away.

“This is not a political visit,” El Paso Mayor Dee Margo told reporters. “He is president of the United States. So in that capacity, I will fulfill my obligations as mayor of El Paso to meet with the president and discuss whatever our needs are in this community.”

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Additional reporting by Rich McKay, Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu in Washingon, Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Paul Tait and Howard Goller)

Urged to ‘do something,’ Ohio governor backs ‘red flag’ law

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine reacts as vigil attendees shout “Do Something” while he was speaking at a vigil at the scene after a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, U.S. August 4, 2019. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

By Matthew Lavietes

(Reuters) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine proposed a “red flag” law that would allow authorities to take guns away from people who may harm themselves or others, responding to pressure for him to “do something” after a mass shooting in Dayton that killed nine people.

The Republican governor said he supported legislation that would allow judges to temporarily confiscate guns from individuals believed by police or their relatives to be a danger, and to provide them with mental health treatment.

“We have an obligation to each other,” DeWine said at a news briefing. “If someone is showing signs of trouble or problems, we must help and we must not turn away.”

DeWine spoke three days after a gunman wearing body armor and a mask opened fire in a crowded Dayton, Ohio, neighborhood known for its nightlife early on Sunday. It was the second deadly U.S. mass shooting in less than a day.

The governor was heckled on Sunday night as he spoke at a vigil for the victims of the rampage. Protesters repeatedly chanted “Do something!,” a reference to perceived state and federal inaction to curb U.S. gun violence.

“Some chanted ‘Do something!’ and they’re absolutely right,” DeWine said on Tuesday. “We must do something, and that is exactly what we’re going to do.”

Gun control is one of the most divisive issues in American politics. Supporters of tighter restrictions say they are necessary to staunch a U.S. epidemic of gun violence, while opponents believe more controls would violate gun ownership rights under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

In an address to the nation on Monday, President Donald Trump also backed “red flag” laws to allow guns to be taken away from dangerous individuals. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia currently have such laws in place, according to the Giffords gun-control group.

The president proposed tighter monitoring of the internet, mental health reform and wider use of the death penalty in response to the two mass shootings over the weekend that left 32 people dead in Texas and Ohio.

Police named the Ohio gunman as Connor Betts, a 24-year-old white male from Bellbrook, Ohio, and said he was armed with an assault-style rifle fitted with an extended drum magazine that could hold 100 rounds.

The killings in Dayton began at around 1 a.m. on Sunday in the city’s Oregon District and ended rapidly when nearby police moved in and shot Betts dead. At least 14 people were wounded by gunfire, while others were injured as they fled. Six of the nine people killed were black.

The gunman shot at least 41 bullets in the seconds before he was killed, Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl told reporters on Monday. Police officers ended the rampage in about 30 seconds, Biehl said on Sunday.

Investigators were still trying to determine a motive, Biehl said. FBI agents were helping police.

The shooting in Dayton, a riverfront city of about 140,000 people in southwestern Ohio, took place just 13 hours after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were killed. The 21-year-old suspect in that shooting was arrested.

Sunday’s massacre occurred a week after a teenager killed three people with an assault rifle at a food festival in Northern California before taking his own life.

(Reporting by Matthew Lavietes in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Teen victim of Texas mass shooting straddled bi-national culture, other victims identified

Two Horizon High School students mourn at a vigil in honor of Javier Rodriguez, who was killed while shopping at Walmart, two days after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 5, 2019. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare

By Julio-Cesar Chavez

HORIZON, Texas (Reuters) – Several hundred students, teachers and relatives filled a high school athletic stadium in Texas on Monday to honor a teenager of U.S.-Mexican citizenship who was the youngest of 22 killed in a shooting rampage police suspect was driven by racism.

Javier Rodriguez, 15, was one week into his sophomore year at Horizon High School, where he played on the soccer team, when he was cut down by gunfire at a Walmart store on Saturday in the west Texas border city of El Paso.

“Javier was just a young man full of life, running in this same stadium we’re in now,” Juan Martinez, superintendent of the Clint Independent School District outside El Paso, told the crowd. “He didn’t deserve to die in a tragedy like this.”

The hour-long memorial service in the El Paso suburb of Horizon opened around twilight with the school principal welcoming Javier’s parents and sister onto a stage, where they released a white dove into the clear evening sky.

A group of teachers simultaneously released 21 more doves, one for each of the other victims, ranging in age from 23 to 90, most of them with Hispanic surnames.

A 21-year-old white man who police said drove more than 600 miles (956 km) from suburban Dallas to El Paso to carry out the shooting spree and surrendered to police at the scene has been charged with capital murder.

Authorities have said they are investigating the rampage as a hate crime, citing a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto posted online shortly before the shooting, which they attributed to the suspect, Patrick Crusius.

In it, the author called the Walmart attack “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas”.

Martinez said, “Apparently, Javier was a target because of the color of his skin. Javier did not choose the color of his skin, nor did I, nor did you.”

As the superintendent spoke, a member of the high school band, overcome by emotion, was escorted away sobbing.

Not only was Javier the youngest killed on Saturday, he perhaps as much as anyone represented the mixed heritage and culture of El Paso, which together with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, just across the Rio Grande and the neighboring New Mexico city of Las Cruces, forms the largest bi-national, bilingual metropolitan area in North America.

Friends said Javier held dual U.S. and Mexican citizenship. Police identified seven others killed in the attack as Mexican nationals, and one as German. The rest were U.S. citizens, police said.

Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso native seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, also spoke, mentioning that Javier’s uncle was among the wounded, describing the nephew’s life as “an expression of the hope we now have in one another.”

O’Rourke added, “Please understand that this violence, this hatred will not define this community, nor will it define the Rodriguez family.”

The 21 others killed on Saturday were identified by police as: Andre Pablo Anchondo, 23; Jordon Anchondo, 24; Arturo Benavidez, 60; Leonard Cipeda Campos, 41, Maria Flores, 77; Raul Flores, 77; Jorge Calvillo Garcia, 61; Adolfo Cerros Hernandez, 68; Alexander Gerhard Hoffman, 66; David Alvah Johnson, 63; Luis Alfonzo Juarez, 90; Maria Eugenia Legarrega Rothe, 58; Elsa Libera Marquez, 57; Marie Loyal, 56; Ivan Hilierto Manzano, 46; Gloria Irma Marquez, 61; Margie Reckard, 63; Sarah Esther Regaldo Moriel, 66; Teresa Sanchez, 82; Angelina Sliva-Elisbee, 86; and Juan Velazquez, 77.

(Reporting by Julio-Cesar Chavez in Horizon; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

His cross to bear: carpenter creates memorial for yet another shooting

FILE PHOTO: People pray next to a row of crosses representing each of the victims at a growing memorial site two days after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 5, 2019. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare/File Photo

By Daniel Trotta

EL PASO, Texas (Reuters) – Volunteers on Monday planted crosses, each representing a fatality in Saturday’s mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, at a shrine to the victims that included “El Paso strong” signs, flowers, candles, bible verses and U.S. and Mexican flags.

Police have not released the names of the victims of the attack, which authorities have called an act of domestic terrorism that appeared to target Hispanics. Hours later, a separate mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, killed nine people. The attacks injured dozens more.

Greg Zanis of Crosses for Losses, who has been making white, waist-high wooden crosses for victims of tragedies since 1986, provided them for the shrine to the victims near the Walmart store.

“Today is the worst day. I’m going to have to go to Dayton, Ohio, right now. I don’t know how I can handle this day,” Zanis told reporters at the shrine.

Zanis said he has made more than 26,000 crosses since the master carpenter began his one-man mission after finding the body of his father-in-law, who had been shot to death.

In 1999, he erected 13 crosses in Colorado in honor of the victims of the shooting rampage at Columbine High School. Last year he went to Pittsburgh to deliver 11 Stars of David in remembrance of the worshippers shot dead on Oct. 27 at the Tree of Life synagogue, and barely two weeks later to Thousand Oaks, Calif., for the 12 victims of a shooting there, and then to Paradise, Calif., the following month after a wildfire destroyed the town, killing at least 85.

He was even forced into action for a workplace shooting on Feb. 15 in his home town of Aurora, Illinois that killed six.

“These people all don’t think it will happen in their towns, and I was dumb enough to think it wouldn’t happen in mine,” Zanis said.

MEXICAN NATIONALS

At least eight of the victims in the border city of El Paso were Mexican nationals. One funeral home is offering free cremation services for the victims as the city mourned.

At the Walmart shrine, Tony Basco, 61, planted a cross for his partner of 22 years, Margie Reckard, 67, according to the name and age on the cross.

“I’ve been lost. I’m like a puppy run away from its momma. She took care of me,” Basco said. “But my wife, she’d say get up off your rear end and grow up. Because now I’ve got to take care of the bills, take care of the cat.”

Basco was unaware Zanis would be presenting her cross. He just happened to be visiting the site for the first time since the massacre.

“I just wanted to go where she died,” Basco said.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; writing by Bill Tarrant; editing by Bill Berkrot)

Two Texas shooting victims die in hospital, raising death toll to 22

People pray during a vigil a day after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 4, 2019. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare

By Julio-Cesar Chavez

EL PASO, Texas (Reuters) – The death toll rose to 22 people on Monday in a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, increasing with two deaths in a hospital days after a spate of shooting sprees, El Paso Police said on Twitter.

Two weekend gun massacres prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to condemn white supremacy.

Texas prosecutors charged a man with capital murder for the massacre in the heavily Hispanic border city that initially had claimed 20 lives.

Two victims died in the hospital on Monday morning, raising the grim total rose to 22, El Paso Police said on Twitter.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Saturday’s rampage appeared to be a hate crime and federal prosecutors called it domestic terrorism. Police cited a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto posted online shortly before the shooting, which they attributed to the suspect, Patrick Crusius, as evidence that the bloodshed was racially motivated.

A Texas prosecutor said the state will seek the death penalty against Crusius if he is found guilty.

It was the second of three separate public shooting sprees carried out in the United States in the span of a week. The dense cluster of massacres prompted fresh cries of alarm in a country accustomed to reports of young men gunning down strangers.

“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Trump said from the White House, calling the gunman “wicked” and criticizing blaming the internet and violent video games for fostering violence.

“It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence,” Trump said, a day after Democratic candidates for next year’s presidential election called for stricter gun laws and accused the president of stoking racial tensions.

U.S. gun control advocates have noted that the internet and video games are popular in many other countries where mass shootings are virtually unknown, in part because it is much harder to get a gun than in the United States.

Trump also proposed making it easier and quicker to stop those deemed as having certain forms of mental illness or being a risk to public safety from having guns.

State prosecutors have charged Crusius, a 21-year-old white man, with capital murder, according to the County of El Paso’s state court website. The single murder charge is likely a legal place holder to keep Crusius in custody until further charges can be filed for each of the dead and the wounded.

His grandparents, with whom Crusius had recently been living, said they were devastated by the attack.

“He lived with us in our house in Allen, Texas, while he attended Collin College,” the statement said, read aloud by a family friend to reporters outside the home on Sunday. “He moved out of our house six weeks ago, and has spent a few nights here while we were out of town.”

It was unclear if Crusius has a lawyer or when a bond hearing or other court appearances will occur.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement on Sunday the attack “underscores the continued threat posed by domestic violent extremists and perpetrators of hate crimes.”

The agency said it remains concerned that more U.S.-based extremists could become inspired by these and previous high-profile attacks to engage in similar acts of violence.

The U.S. attorney for the western district of Texas, John Bash, said federal authorities were treating the El Paso massacre as a case of domestic terrorism.

“And we’re going to do what we do to terrorists in this country, which is to deliver swift and certain justice,” he told a news conference on Sunday. He said the attack appeared “to be designed to intimidate a civilian population, to say the least.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray told a congressional panel on July 23 that the bureau has recorded about 100 arrests of domestic terrorism suspects in the preceding nine months and that most investigations of that kind involve some form of white supremacy.

BACK-TO-BACK SHOOTINGS

The Texas rampage was followed just 13 hours later by another mass shooting, and came a week after a man shot dead three people at a California garlic festival before he was killed by police.

In Dayton, Ohio a gunman in body armor and a mask killed nine people in less than a minute and wounded 27 others in the downtown historic district before he was shot dead by police.

Trump has frequently derided many asylum seekers and other immigrants coming across the U.S. southern border as liars and criminals. At a political rally he held in May, after asking the crowd what could be done about immigrants coming in illegally, Trump smiled and joked after someone in the crowd yelled back: “Shoot them!”

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said the suspect was cooperating with investigators.

“He basically didn’t hold anything back,” Allen said at Sunday’s news conference, but declined to elaborate.

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.

Crusius comes 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.

A four-page statement posted on 8chan, an online message board often used by extremists and believed to have been written by the suspect, called the Walmart attack “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

It also expressed support for the gunman who killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March.

El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, together with the neighboring city of Las Cruces, New Mexico, form a metropolitan border area of some 2.5 million residents constituting the largest bilingual, bi-national population in North America.

(Reporting by Julio-Cesar Chavez in El Paso; Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles, Jonathan Allen in New York, Keith Coffman in Denver, Tim Reid in Las Vegas, Mark Hosenball in London, Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico City, Daniel Trotta, Barbara Goldberg and Matthew Lavietes in New York and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Frances Kerry and Nick Zieminski)

Gunman kills 20 in rampage at Walmart store in Texas

Shoppers exit with their hands up after a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 3, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Salgado

By Julio-Cesar Chavez

EL PASO, Tx. (Reuters) – A gunman armed with a rifle killed 20 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday and wounded more than two dozen before being arrested, authorities said, after the latest U.S. mass shooting sent panicked shoppers fleeing.

Many of those in the busy store were buying back-to-school supplies when they were caught up in the rampage, which came just six days after a teenage gunman killed three people at a food festival in Northern California.

“On a day that would have been a normal day for someone to leisurely go shopping, it turned into one of the most deadly days in the history of Texas,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said at a news conference, announcing the death toll.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said three Mexicans were among the dead. Six Mexicans were wounded. It was the eighth-worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, after the 1984 shooting in San Ysidro that killed 21 people.

The suspect was identified as a 21-year-old white male from Allen, Texas, a Dallas-area city some 650 miles (1,046 km) east of El Paso.

Asked during a CNN interview about reports of disturbing online posts made by the suspect, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he would not be surprised in any way.

“I think those can help shed light on why he did it,” Paxton said. “They are still interviewing him.”

El Paso police chief Greg Allen said authorities had a manifesto from the suspect that indicates “there is a potential nexus to a hate crime.” Officials declined to elaborate and said the investigation was continuing.

The suspect was taken into custody without incident, according to authorities. Video posted on social media appeared to show him being handcuffed by police and placed in a squad car.

Citing a law enforcement source, El Paso television station KTSM published on its website what it said were two photos of the suspect taken by security cameras as he entered the Walmart.

The images showed a young white man wearing glasses, khaki trousers and a dark T-shirt, and pointing an assault-style rifle. He appears to be wearing headphones or ear defenders.

Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the images.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter that the reports from El Paso were “very bad, many killed.”

University Medical Center of El Paso received 13 patients, including one who died, hospital spokesman Ryan Mielke told CNN.

Some of the patients were in surgery while others were in stable condition, he added.

Two of the patients who arrived at the hospital were children with non-life threatening injuries who were transferred to El Paso Children’s Hospital, he said.

Local media said there was such an overwhelming response to an appeal by the police department for blood donations to help the wounded that long lines formed at medical centers, some of which had to tell would-be donors to come back on Sunday.

Some people handed out bottled water and slices of pizza to those still waiting in line.

‘PEOPLE WERE PANICKING’

Multiple law enforcement agencies raced to the scene at the Walmart and nearby Cielo Vista Mall, including police, state troopers, Homeland Security agents and border patrol.

Shoppers fled for their lives, including Kianna Long who was at the Walmart with her husband when they heard gunfire.

“People were panicking and running,” Long said. “They were running close to the floor, people were dropping on the floor.”

She and her husband sprinted through a stock room at the back of the store before sheltering with other customers in a steel container in a shipping area.

Graphic video from the scene posted on social media showed what appeared to be dead bodies and wounded victims. Tales of heroism also emerged.

Walmart said in a statement: “We’re in shock over the tragic events at Cielo Vista Mall… We’re praying for the victims, the community & our associates, as well as the first responders.”

Stores at the mall were also locked down as police officers cleared the shopping center in the east of the city, which lies on the southern U.S. border with Mexico.

Video posted on Twitter showed customers at one department store being evacuated with their hands up.

Mass shootings are common in the United States. On Sunday, a teenage gunman opened fire with an assault-style rifle on the crowd at a food festival in Northern California, killing three people before fatally shooting himself.

At a Democratic presidential candidate forum in Las Vegas a clearly emotional Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman who is from El Paso, broke the news to the audience that he had just heard about the deadly mass shooting in his home city.

O’Rourke said he had spoken to his wife Amy, who was driving in the city with one of their children. Addressing reporters, he teared up and struggled to deliver a short statement.

“I am incredibly saddened and it’s very hard to think about this,” he said. “El Paso is the strongest place in the world. This community is going to come together. I’m going back there right now to be with my family, to be with my home town.”

(Reporting by Julio-Cesar Chavez in El Paso; Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles and Tim Reid in Las Vegas; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Susan Thomas)