U.S. News

20 dead in mass shooting at Walmart in El Paso — suspect in custody

Key Points
  • 20 people are dead and 26 wounded in a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso.  
  • A 21-year-old suspect identified as Patrick Crusius, a resident of the Dallas area, has been taken into custody, law enforcement sources told NBC News.
  • Police said they believe there was only one shooter.
  • El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said the shooting could be a hate crime based on a "manifesto" authorities believe to be connected to the suspect. 
  • Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke has cancelled all campaign events in Nevada and California and will immediately return to El Paso, his hometown.
  • President Donald Trump pledged the federal government's support.
Law enforcement agencies respond to an active shooter at a Wal-Mart near Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019.
JOEL ANGEL JUAREZ | AFP | Getty Images

Twenty people died and 26 were wounded in a mass shooting at a shopping center in El Paso, law enforcement and Texas Governor Greg Abbott confirmed in a press conference Saturday evening.

The shooting happened at a Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, which is on the U.S. southern border. The Walmart was at capacity with up to 3,000 people during the busy back-to-school shopping season, police said.

A 21-year-old suspect identified as Patrick Wood Crusius, a resident of the Dallas area, has been taken into custody, law enforcement sources told NBC News. Police said the suspect is a white male.

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said the shooting could be a hate crime based on a "manifesto" authorities believe is connected to the suspect. The diatribe, which was posted online, is anti-immigrant and anti-government. It also rails against big corporations.

"Right now we have a manifesto from this individual that indicates to some degree that it has a nexus to a potential hate crime," Allen said.

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

Police said they believe there was only one shooter. Law enforcement previously had reports of multiple shooters.

Authorities first received calls about a shooting at 10:39 a.m. local time and police were on the scene by 10:45 a.m. Multiple law enforcement agencies, including federal agencies such as the ATF and FBI, assisted El Paso police.

The area around the Walmart and Cielo Vista Mall has since been secured, police said. But authorities asked people to stay clear of the area, which is an active crime scene. A reunification center for families has been set up at McCarthur Middle School.

Officials in El Paso said blood donations are "needed urgently" for victims transported to local hospitals.

Multiple ambulances were at the scene.

Walmart expressed shock at the shooting and said it was praying for the victims. The retailer said it is working closely with law enforcement and would provide updates as appropriate.

Gov. Abbott condemned the shooting as "a heinous and senseless act of violence." The state has deployed troopers, special agents, Texas rangers, tactical teams and aircraft in a support role, Abbott said.

President Donald Trump has been briefed on the shooting in El Paso and has spoken with Attorney General William Barr and Gov. Abbott, according to the White House. Trump pledged the federal government's support.

Attorney General Barr said "those who commit such atrocities should be held accountable swiftly and to the fullest extent the law allows."

The mass shooting in El Paso comes just days after another lethal shooting at a Walmart in Southaven, Mississippi. A disgruntled former employee opened fire, killing two people and wounding a police officer.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said he couldn't believe that there were shootings at two Walmart locations within a week.

"My heart aches for the community in El Paso, especially the associates and customers at store 2201 and the families of the victims of today's tragedy," McMillon said in an Instagram post.

Calls for action on guns

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said they were praying with the friends and families of the victims and thanked first responders. They both called for action to stop gun violence.

"Too many families in too many communities have been forced to endure the daily horror of gun violence. Enough is enough," Pelosi said. "The Republican Senate's continued inaction dishonors our solemn duty to protect innocent men, women and children and end this epidemic once and for all."

Many Democratic presidential candidates were in Las Vegas this weekend to attend a union-sponsored event. In 2017, a lone gunmen shot dead 58 people and wounded hundreds more at a concert in the city.

Beto O'Rourke, who was in Las Vegas, cancelled all campaign events in Nevada and California and immediately returned to El Paso, his hometown.

O'Rourke said Trump bore responsibility for the shooting by stoking racist sentiment.

"He is a racist and he stokes racism in this country," O'Rourke told ABC-7 in El Paso. "And it does not just offend our sensibilities. It fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence."

Sen. Bernie Sanders, in an interview on MSNBC from the event in Nevada, called for "common sense gun safety legislation" including "universal and expanded" background checks.

"But you got one organization, the NRA, which terrifies the Republican party and does not allow us to do what the American people want," Sanders said. "We've got to deal with that."

Gov. Abbott of Texas emphasized addressing mental health issues.

"Mental health is a large contributor to any type of violence or shooting violence," he said.

Democratic presidential candidates roundly called for action to stop gun violence in posts on Twitter.

Former Vice President Joe Biden:

Heartbroken to hear the news from El Paso. Our thoughts are with those impacted by yet another senseless act of gun violence in America. How many lives must be cut short? How many communities must be torn apart? It's past time we take action and end our gun violence epidemic.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren:

The news out of El Paso is devastating. I'm heartbroken for the victims and their families. Far too many communities have suffered through tragedies like this already. We must act now to end our country's gun violence epidemic

Mayor Pete Buttigieg:

Our country is under attack from white nationalist terrorism, inspiring murder on our soil and abetted by weak gun laws. If we are serious about national security, we must summon the courage to name and defeat this evil.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar:

Today innocent people—families—went to that mall in El Paso. Some of them never came home. The U.S. House has passed common sense gun safety legislation. It is long past time to pass it in the Senate. The question to ask: Whose side are you on? The NRA's or the people's.

Sen. Cory Booker:

Enough. We need to end this national nightmare. Praying for everyone affected by this unspeakable tragedy, and for our country to find the moral courage to take action to end this carnage.

Sen. Kamala Harris:

Last week it was Gilroy. Today it's El Paso. How can our country tolerate this? My prayers are yet again with families who are grieving and my thanks are with the first responders, but that is not enough. We must act.

Julian Castro:

My heart is with the people of El Paso today as they cope with a devastating mass shooting—the scope of which we are still learning. This attack is a tragic reminder of our government's failure to do its most basic duty: to protect American lives. We need gun reform now.