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El Paso shooting: Prosecutors to seek death penalty for "domestic terrorism"

El Paso shooting investigated as hate crime
El Paso shooting being investigated as hate crime and domestic terrorism 02:48

What we know about the El Paso shooting

  • 22 people were killed and dozens injured in a shooting in a Walmart and parking lot near an El Paso, Texas shopping mall Saturday.
  • The white male suspect has been identified as Patrick Crusius, 21. He was taken into custody without incident.
  • At least 22 people were hospitalized, including one who died; nine were in critical but stable condition; one patient is 4 months old.
  • Prosecutors are pursuing a civil rights hate crime investigation and domestic terrorism charges.
  • More details of what we know about the victims of the El Paso shooting.

Prosecutors in El Paso, Texas, will seek the death penalty for the man suspected of killing 20 people and injuring more than two dozen others. U.S. Attorney John Bash said they will pursue a criminal investigation, a civil rights hate crime investigation and "domestic terrorism" charges against the suspect, who was identified as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius.

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said Crusius purchased his weapon legally. He said Crusius was being cooperative and "forthcoming with information" to investigators. The Associated Press reports Crusius is from Allen, Texas, which is a nearly 10-hour drive from El Paso.

The attack targeted a Walmart and did not spread to other nearby shopping areas, El Paso police Sgt. Robert Gomez said, adding that most victims were inside the store. The shopping area is about 5 miles from the main border checkpoint with Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

By Sunday evening, all bodies had been removed from the store and its parking lot, police said.

"The scene was a horrific one," said Allen, adding that many of the people who were hurt had life-threatening injuries.

Emotional El Paso shooting survivor shares her story 02:04

In the hours following the attack, there was another mass shooting across the country in Dayton, Ohio. Police said nine people were killed by a gunman who was shot to death by responding officers.

Officials have referenced a document allegedly left behind by Crusius, and said the shooting may have a "nexus" to a hate crime. The writer of the document denounces the increasing Hispanic population of Texas and gives that as a reason for his actions. 

Virginia Chacon reacts as she tells her survival story to a police officer outside the Walmart where a shooting left 20 people dead in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 4, 2019.
Virginia Chacon reacts as she tells her survival story to a police officer outside the Walmart where a shooting left 20 people dead in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 4, 2019. Getty

The FBI issued a statement late Sunday saying, "The attack in El Paso, Texas, underscores the continued threat posed by domestic violent extremists and perpetrators of hate crimes. The FBI is supporting its state and local partners in Texas through investigative, intelligence, and technical assistance. The El Paso investigation is also being supported by the FBI's Domestic Terrorism-Hate Crimes Fusion Cell. ... The FBI remains concerned that U.S.-based domestic violent extremists could become inspired by these and previous high-profile attacks to engage in similar acts of violence. The FBI asks the American public to report to law enforcement any suspicious activity that is observed either in person or online."

Ryan Mielke, a spokesman for University Medical Center of El Paso, said 15 of the injured were brought to the hospital with injuries, including one who died. Two of the injured were children who were transferred to El Paso Children's Hospital, he said. The children sustained non life-threatening injuries and were discharged Sunday. Ten patients remain at UMC.

Eleven other victims ages 35 to 82 were being treated at Del Sol Medical Center, hospital spokesman Victor Guerrero said.

A U.S. soldier stationed at nearby Fort Bliss was at the mall when the shooting unfolded. Glendon Oakley said that, as soon as heard two gunshots, he took the threat seriously.

"We run towards Dillard's, and it's like a play pen over there. I see a whole bunch of kids like, without their parents running around screaming and crying, so I grab as many as possible," Oakley told CBS affiliate WMAZ-TV

"I try to get a couple of other people too, you know, grab other kids, but parents are so worried about themselves, they're gone," Oakley said. "I'm thinking if I had a child, what would I want somebody else to do."

Walmart released a statement, saying it was working with law enforcement and "praying for the victims, the community & our associates, as well as the first responders."

Trump reacts to deadly mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton 01:43

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, who represents El Paso, said on Twitter she was "heartbroken" by the incident and was monitoring the situation. Her predecessor, presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, appeared shaken as he spoke at a candidate forum in Las Vegas on Saturday shortly after news of the shooting in his hometown was reported.

O'Rourke said he had called his wife before taking the stage and said the shooting shatters "any illusion that we have that progress is inevitable" on tackling gun violence. The Democrat said he'd heard early reports that the shooter might have had a military-style weapon, saying we need to "keep that (expletive) on the battlefield and do not bring it into our communities."

"We have to find some reason for optimism and hope or else we consign ourselves to a future where nearly 40,000 people are year will lose their lives to gun violence and I cannot accept that," O'Rourke said.

Beto O'Rourke responds to mall shooting in El Paso, TX 02:25

More stories from El Paso

Pat Milton contributed to this report.

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