Tim Scott, sole black GOP senator, warns against "politicizing" mass shootings

Scott warns against "politicizing" shootings

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the sole African-American Republican in the Senate, warned against "politicizing" two mass shootings that occurred in different parts of the country less than 24 hours apart and collectively killed more than two dozen people. 

"The first thing I'd say is that we need to take a step back from politicizing every event," Scott said on "Face the Nation" Sunday. "This is an issue of human hate, something that resides in the heart and that is actually, unfortunately because of social technology and the social media, we're seeing it connect it to other folks who have hate in their heart as well."

On Saturday morning, a gunman stormed a Walmart in the Texas border city of El Paso and killed at least 20 people. More than two dozen were injured and several remain in critical condition. Hours later, nine people were killed and nearly 30 others were injured in another mass shooting in Dayton, in western Ohio. 

In Ohio, authorities have not yet identified a motive behind the attack carried out by the suspect, who was killed by authorities during the shooting. He has been identified as Connor Betts, a 24-year-old white man.

Federal investigators in El Paso, however, are probing the massacre there as a possible hate crime, and the local U.S. attorney is treating it as an act of domestic terrorism. They are examining a racist political manifesto that denounces the Latino community in Texas and that may have been written by the suspect, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, who has been taken into custody. 

Asked specifically about President Trump's divisive and sometimes inflammatory rhetoric on immigration — which some Democrats have said fans the racist hatred behind violent acts like the one in El Paso — Scott praised Mr. Trump's response to the two shootings. 

"What I'd say to everyone — from the president to my house — is that we should take responsibility for how we respond to the situations," he said. "I'm thankful that the president's response to this situation has been clear and decisive. I would hope that we would always have that clarity and decisive response in the face of hate and rage and racism."

The president has condemned both shootings, calling the massacre in El Paso an "act of cowardice." 

Scott suggested that instead of focusing on Mr. Trump's rhetoric, the American public and lawmakers need to think bigger and focus on taking positive action.  

"It goes beyond that. We have to build a better society — a society where we all see that we are in the same boat," he said. "Poking holes or shooting holes in that boat only leads to casualties. All of us will be the casualty."

"Everyone looks in this world to America as a city on the Hill the bright light within the stars," Scott added. "We have to act consistent with our values if we are to maintain the position not as a superpower economically, but as a moral compass for this world to follow."

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    Camilo Montoya-Galvez On Twitter»

    Camilo Montoya-Galvez is the immigration reporter at CBS News. Based in Washington, he covers immigration policy and politics. Twitter: @camiloreports