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20 killed in El Paso mall shooting

August 4, 2019

At least 20 people have been killed and more than two dozen injured in a shooting at a shopping center in the city of El Paso, Texas. Police say they have arrested a male suspect in his 20s.

People hug at a vigil for the El Paso mass shooting
Image: Getty Images/AFP/M. Tama

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Saturday that 20 people had been killed in a shooting at a shopping center in El Paso.

"We as a state unite in support of the victims and their family members," Abbott told reporters, calling it "one of the deadliest days in Texas history."

El Paso Police Department Chief Greg Allen said 26 people had been wounded in the attack. A white 21-year-old male suspect has been arrested, according to police.

Police are investigating whether a racist tirade posted online shortly before the shooting was written by the suspect. In the post, the writer complains about an influx of Hispanics that they said would replace aging white workers. 

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

Law enforcement agencies respond to an active shooter at a Wal-Mart near Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas
Police said the Walmart in El Paso was 'at capacity' when the shooting took placeImage: Getty Images/AFP/J. A. Juarez

There were initial reports that the gunman had used a rifle. El Paso Police spokesperson Robert Gomez said authorities had ruled out the possibility of multiple shooters.

Most of the victims were shot at a Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall, according to police. Gomez said the Walmart was "at capacity" with between 1,000 to 3,000 shoppers at the time of the shooting on Saturday afternoon.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said six Mexican citizens were among those killed.

'Texans grieve'

After an initial tweet in which he said "reports are very bad, many killed," US President Donald Trump later responded more fully to the incident, writing it was "not only tragic, it was an act of cowardice."

"I know that I stand with everyone in this country to condemn today's hateful act," he wrote on Twitter. "There are no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing."

Earlier, Governor Abbott tweeted that "Texans grieve today for the people of this wonderful place."

"We unite in support of all the victims," he wrote.

Read more: Florida students call for gun control: 'Without action, children die'

'Enough is enough'

A number of Democratic presidential candidates expressed outrage after Saturday's shooting.

"Enough is enough," said former Vice President Joe Biden. "This is a sickness."

"This is beyond anything that we should be tolerating," he added.

"All over the world, people are looking at the United States and wondering what is going on? What is the mental health situation in America, where time after time, after time, after time, we're seeing indescribable horror," said Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who along with 18 other Democratic candidates was in Las Vegas to speak to the country's public employees union.

Beto O'Rourke, who represented El Paso in Congress from 2013 to 2019, said he was suspending his campaign to "be with my family and be with my hometown."

247 US mass shootings in 2019: Gun Violence Archive

El Paso, which is home to around 680,000 residents, is located in western Texas and sits across the border from Juarez, Mexico.

Read more: Global gun deaths reach 250,000 annually, study finds

Saturday's violence comes on the heels of another deadly shooting in California, which saw a 19-year-old gunman open fire at a food festival on Wednesday. Three people were killed, including two children. On Tuesday, two people were killed and a police officer was wounded in another shooting at a Walmart in Mississippi.

There have been 247 mass shootings in the US so far this year, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.

US anti-gun rallies

rs, dr/cmk (AP, dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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