‘Hate will not overcome love’, El Paso shooting memorial attendees told

People embrace during a memorial for the victims of a shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 14, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

By Julio-César and Chávez

EL PASO, Texas (Reuters) – With “El Paso Strong” shirts on and with the sun setting behind them, thousands of people crowded into a baseball stadium in the town on Wednesday evening to remember the 22 people killed by a gunman at a local Walmart store on Aug. 3.

“Words cannot express the heartbreak and loss our community has encountered,” El Paso Mayor Dee Margo told the crowd gathered in the U.S.-Mexico border town during the memorial.

“Yet tonight all of the Paso del Norte region stands together to honor those taken from us,” he said. “To grieve, comfort, and love one another as a united binational people.”

People take part in a memorial for the victims of a shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 14, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

People take part in a memorial for the victims of a shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 14, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

The attack on the largely Hispanic community was the first of two recent mass shootings that have rocked the nation and entered the political debate.

El Paso was followed 13 hours later by a mass shooting in a busy nightspot in Dayton, Ohio, that left nine dead.

The memorial came 11 days after an attacker, who police say drove hours to El Paso from a Dallas suburb, killed 22 people and injured dozens more. The attacker said he was specifically targeting Mexicans, according to police. El Paso is a largely Hispanic city.

As El Pasoans entered the baseball stadium Wednesday they were greeted by emotional support dogs, brought by a group that has been visiting disaster areas since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

“Some people said they hadn’t smiled since that Saturday, some people hadn’t cried yet until they touched the dogs, but that warm fur just starts that emotion,” said Janice Marut, of Lutheran Church Charities, while memorial visitors played with large golden retrievers.

The baseball infield was dotted with 22 stars made out of luminarias, paper bags with candles or lights inside, to remember those killed in the El Paso attack along with nine circles commemorating the dead in an Ohio shooting that happened just hours later.

People take part in a memorial for the victims of a shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 14, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

People take part in a memorial for the victims of a shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 14, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

The memorial was streamed live on the internet to different places around the city, including a park one block north of where the shooting happened.

The largely Democrat-voting city cheered on Republican Governor Greg Abbott as he said elected officials would meet to discuss hate crimes, gun violence, and domestic terrorism next week.

On the stage along with the governor and El Paso’s mayor were Mexican government representatives, taking part to remember the eight Mexican nationals who died in the same attack.

The governor of Chihuahua, the neighboring state, and the mayor of Ciudad Juarez just across the border, condemned the resurgence of white supremacy in the United States.

“We don’t just share business or industries, or shopping at Walmart. We share culture,” said Chihuahua governor Javier Corral.

Margo, who spoke last, reiterated the ties in the binational cities and cultures saying the attack would not change El Paso.

“Hate will not overcome love, hate will not define who we are,” he said.

(Reporting by Julio-César Chávez in El Paso, Texas; editing by Rich McKay and Hugh Lawson)

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)

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)

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)

Cloudflare terminates 8chan as customer on ‘hate-filled’ content: CEO

A man takes part in a rally against hate a day after a mass shooting at a Walmart store, in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 4, 2019. Graffiti reads "El Paso Is Not Alone" REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

(Reuters) – U.S. cybersecurity firm Cloudflare on Monday said it would terminate online message board 8chan as a customer after a gunman used the messaging forum prior to killing 20 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas on Saturday.

The gunman is believed to have posted a four-page statement on 8chan, and called the Walmart attack “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas”.

Police in the Philippines, where 8chan is hosted, told Reuters they were investigating the messaging board but were unable to give details, such as when the inquiry began and what prompted it.

The suspect was officially identified as a 21-year-old white male from Allen, Texas, a Dallas suburb about 650 miles (1,046 km) east of El Paso, which lies along the Rio Grande, across the U.S.-Mexico border from Ciudad Juarez. Citing law enforcement officials, media named the suspect as Patrick Crusius.

The suspect’s post on 8chan expressed support for the gunman who killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March.

“We just sent a notice that we are terminating 8chan as a customer effective at midnight tonight Pacific Time,” Cloudflare Chief Executive Matthew Prince said in a blog post.

“Based on evidence we’ve seen, it appears that he (gunman)posted a screed to the site immediately before beginning his terrifying attack.”

Prince’s blog added that while 8chan did not violate the law by not moderating the “hate-filled” content posted by users, it had “created an environment that revels in violating its spirit”.

(Reporting by Sathvik N in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Karen Lema in MANILA; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Clarence Fernandez)

Trump denounces white supremacy after shootings, cites video games and internet

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the shootings in El Paso and Daytonin the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., August 5, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Monday called for urgent action to prevent gun violence and said all Americans must “condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy” after mass shootings in Texas and Ohio killed 29 people and wounded dozens.

Trump, whose rhetoric has frequently been condemned as stoking racial divisions, laid out a number of policy options but did not mention his own past remarks.

“These sinister ideologies must be defeated,” Trump said in remarks at the White House. “Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart and devours the soul.”

On Saturday, a gunman killed 20 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, in what authorities said appeared to be a racially motivated hate crime. Just 13 hours later, another gunman in downtown Dayton, Ohio, killed nine people.

Trump said mental health laws should be reformed to better identify mentally disturbed individuals and he called for capital punishment for those who commit mass murder and hate crimes.

He said he had directed the Justice Department to work with local authorities and social media companies to detect mass shooters before they strike. He said the Internet, social media and violent video games had helped radicalize people.

Earlier on Monday, Trump had urged lawmakers in a tweet to put strong checks in place on potential gun buyers, suggesting action could be tied with immigration reform. In his remarks at the White House, however, he did not mention immigration.

(Reporting by Roberta Rammpton and Susan Heavey; Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Bill Trott)

Prosecutors charge Texas shooting suspect with murder, seek death penalty

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) – A single capital murder charge was filed on Sunday against the man accused of killing 20 people and wounding more than two dozen others at a Walmart store in El Paso, mass shooting authorities are viewing as a case of domestic terrorism.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Saturday’s rampage in the heavily Hispanic city appeared to be a hate crime. Police cited an anti-immigrant screed posted online shortly before the shooting, which they attributed to the suspect, Patrick Crusius, as evidence that the bloodshed was racially motivated.

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

The County of El Paso’s state court website lists a single charge of capital murder against Crusius, a 21-year-old white man from Allen, Texas.

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.”

The single charge is likely a legal place holder to keep Crusius in custody until further charges can be filed against him for each of the dead and the wounded.

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

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

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 city’s downtown historic district before he was shot dead by police.

Democratic candidates for next year’s presidential election called on Sunday for stricter gun laws and accused President Donald Trump of stoking racial tensions.

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!”

Responding to the shootings, Trump called on lawmakers to pass new background checks laws for buying guns, and suggested any such legislation might also include greater restrictions on immigration.

“We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!” he wrote on Twitter on Monday morning ahead of planned remarks on the subject. On Sunday, he attributed the shootings to what he called the “mental illness” of the killers.

SIGNS OF HATE

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.

A police spokesman said on Sunday that the names of the victims would be released only when relatives had been informed, and he said he had no estimate for how long that would take.

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 for 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.

The rampage in El Paso on Saturday was the eighth most deadly mass shooting in recent years in the United States.

(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 in New York and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Frances Kerry and Nick Zieminski)

Thirty people die in two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio

Francisco Castaneda joins 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/Jorge Salgado NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

By Julio-Cesar Chavez Steve Gorman

EL PASO, Texas/ LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Thirty people died and dozens were wounded in two mass shootings within just 13 hours of each other in the United States, shocking the country and prompting calls from some politicians for tighter gun control.

The first massacre occurred on Saturday morning in the heavily Hispanic border city of El Paso, where a gunman killed 20 people at a Walmart store before surrendering to police.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the rampage appeared to be a hate crime, and police cited a “manifesto” they attributed to the suspect, a 21-year-old white man, as evidence that the bloodshed was racially motivated.

Officials investigate the scene after a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, U.S. August 4, 2019. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

Officials investigate the scene after a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, U.S. August 4, 2019. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

Across the country, a gunman opened fire in a downtown district of Dayton, Ohio, early on Sunday, killing nine people and wounding at least 26 others, police and the city mayor said. The assailant was shot dead by police.

The El Paso shooting reverberated on the campaign trail for next year’s U.S. presidential election, with several Democratic candidates denouncing the rise of gun violence and repeating calls for tighter gun control measures.

At least two candidates, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and El Paso native Beto O’Rourke, a former congressman, drew connections to a resurgence in white nationalism and xenophobic politics in the United States.

“America is under attack from homegrown white nationalist terrorism,” Buttigieg said at an event in Las Vegas.

President Donald Trump branded the shooting “an act of cowardice,” saying in a Twitter post, “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.”

A hallmark of Trump’s presidency has been his determination to curb illegal immigration. Critics say the rhetoric he has used around the issue, as well as other remarks about minorities, is divisive and has fueled racism and xenophobia.

Pope Francis condemned the spate of attacks on “defenseless people” in the United States, including a rampage last Sunday in which a gunman killed three people and wounded about a dozen at a garlic festival in Gilroy, California.

A woman reacts after a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 3, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

A woman reacts after a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 3, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

‘HATE CRIME’

In Texas, police and FBI investigators searched for clues as to what motivated the suspect, who is from Allen, Texas, a Dallas suburb some 650 miles (1,046 km) east of El Paso, which lies on Rio Grande across the U.S.-Mexico border from Ciudad Juarez.

Multiple news media outlets, citing law enforcement officials, named him as Patrick Crusius.

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.

An El Paso police spokesman, Sergeant Robert Gomez, said on Saturday night police were interviewing the suspect, while investigators continued to collect evidence at the crime scene.

Several local politicians said the gunman was an outsider, suggesting he had traveled hundreds of miles from the Dallas area to commit mass murder. But Gomez declined to say how long the suspect might have been in El Paso before the shooting.

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said investigators were examining a “manifesto” from the suspect indicating “there is a potential nexus to a hate crime.”

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

CNN reported the FBI had opened a domestic terrorism investigation.

“We are going to aggressively prosecute it both as capital murder but also as a hate crime, which is exactly what it appears to be,” Texas Governor Abbott told reporters.

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.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said three Mexican nationals were among the 20 people killed in the shooting, and six others were among 26 victims who were wounded.

The carnage ranked as the eighth-deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, after a 1984 shooting in San Ysidro, California, in which 21 people died.

RAPID POLICE ACTION

In Dayton, a riverfront city of about 140,000 people in southwestern Ohio, a gunman dressed in body armor opened fire in a downtown district, unleashing carnage that could have been much worse if not for the rapid intervention of police.

Officers who were on routine patrol nearby were on the scene in less than a minute and shot the attacker dead, likely preventing a much higher casualty toll, police and the city’s mayor said.

Assistant Police Chief Matt Carper said the shooting began at 1 a.m. local time in Dayton’s Oregon District, a downtown historic neighborhood popular for its nightclubs, restaurants art galleries and shops.

The motive was not immediately clear, and investigators believe the individual had acted alone, Carper said.

The authorities did not disclose the shooter’s identity.

A total of 10 people were killed, including the assailant. Twenty-six others were injured and taken to hospitals across the area, Mayor Nan Whaley told reporters, though the extent of their injuries was not known.

She said the suspect was wearing body armor and was armed with a rifle firing .223-caliber rounds with high-capacity ammunition magazines.

FBI agents were assisting in the investigation.

(Reporting by Julio-Cesar Chavez in El Paso and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Tim Reid in Las Vegas and Daniel Wallis in New York; Writing by Frances Kerry, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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)