Published On: Mon, Aug 5th, 2019

Officials Call El Paso Shooting A Domestic Terrorism Case, Weigh Hate Crime Charges

The attack on a Walmart and shopping center here, during which a gunman killed 20 people and wounded dozens, is being viewed as a domestic terrorist attack, authorities said Sunday.

El Paso shooting

“We are treating it as a domestic terrorism case, and we’re going to do what we do to terrorists in this country,” Bash said. “Which is deliver swift and certain justice.”

The investigation in Texas continued while other authorities rushed to respond to a shooting just hours later in Dayton, Ohio, during which at least nine people were slain. The dual shootings in Texas and Ohio — separated by hundreds of miles and less than a single day — sparked grimly familiar scenes of panic and grief as public places were yet again terrorized by a hail of bullets.

It was a ghastly weekend in America, with more than two dozen people killed in the two shooting rampages over the course of a single tragic day. An additional seven people were wounded early Sunday during a shooting in Chicago.

Law enforcement authorities have delved into the background of 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, whom two officials identified as the suspect in the shooting here.

“He was forthcoming with information,” Greg Allen, the El Paso police chief, told reporters. “He basically didn’t hold anything back. Particular questions were asked and he responded.”

Authorities in Texas filed a capital murder charge against Crusius, according to court records, and he was booked into the downtown El Paso jail. No attorney was listed in those records as of Sunday; the public defender’s office did not respond to messages about whether it had been appointed to represent him.

Jaime Esparza, the El Paso district attorney, said the capital murder charge is eligible for a possible death sentence and left no question about what prosecutors would pursue.

“We will seek the death penalty,” Esparza said Sunday. “The loss of life is so great. We certainly have never seen this in our community. … This community is rocked, shocked and saddened by what has happened here.”

Federal charges, when ultimately filed, would not supersede any charges brought by local prosecutors in Texas, but would instead operate as a parallel prosecution.

The mood in El Paso turned from shock on Saturday to anger on Sunday as it seemed increasingly likely that a man had driven nine hours to kill people because they were Hispanic.

At a news conference by immigration advocates and community leaders, immigration attorney Carlos Spector placed blame for the attack at the White House.

“What is responsible for this is the racist language of Donald Trump,” Spector said. “Since he was elected the Mexican community in the border has been in his gun sights.”

Former congressman Beto O’Rourke (D), who is running for president, appeared on “This Week” from his hometown of El Paso and said that Trump “doesn’t just tolerate — he encourages this type of open racism.”

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said a number of Mexicans had been killed in the attack — although he did not specify the number — and nine wounded.