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2019 El Paso Shooting
Mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, United States of America
The store manager witnessed the gunman begin firing in the parking lot prior to entering the crowded store. He issued a "Code Brown"; designating an active shooter, to his employees who began helping customers evacuate or hide. Many customers and employees fled to other stores in the adjacent mall, hid under tables, or in shipping containers located behind the building.
After the shooting, the suspect, Patrick Wood Crusius, drove to the intersection of Sunmount and Viscount, where he identified himself as the shooter and surrendered to Texas Rangers and an El Paso motorcycle officer.
The shooting has been described as the deadliest anti-Latino attack in recent U.S. history, resulting in 22 deaths and 24 injuries. One victim died the day after the event, and another victim died two days after the event. Among the dead were thirteen Americans, eight Mexicans and one German. The names, ages and citizenships of the 22 dead were released by the El Paso Police Department on August 5. Seventeen were 56 or older, two were in their 40s, two in their 20s and one was 15.
Police said he bought the gun used in the attack legally, but provided no details about the purchase. During his first interrogation, he told detectives he had targeted Mexicans, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
El Paso Police Chief, Greg Allen, said that they are "reasonably confident" that a manifesto, titled The Inconvenient Truth, was posted by the suspect on the online message board 8chan shortly before the shooting. It identifies the type of weapon used in the attack; the suspect's name was revealed in a separate document in the post. Site moderators quickly removed the original post, though users continued sharing copies. Claiming to have been inspired by the Christchurch mosque shootings that killed 51 people earlier the same year, the author expresses support for the perpetrator of the Christchurch shootings along with similar grievances such as environmental degradation, "cultural and ethnic replacement", and a "Hispanic invasion".
The manifesto states that Democrats would soon control the United States partly due to an increasing Hispanic population, an idea that has long been promoted on right-wing radio. Criticizing both the Democratic Party and Republican Party for allowing corporations to "import foreign workers", the author describes the shooting as an "incentive" for Hispanics to leave the country, which would "remove the threat" of a Hispanic voting bloc. While primarily focused on ethnic and racial grievances,, the document also expresses fears of automation's effects on employment and blames corporations for overusing natural resources.
An August 4 arrest warrant affidavit says the suspect waived his Miranda rights and confessed to detectives that he targeted "Mexicans" during the attack. On the same date, Mark Stevens, a San Antonio criminal defense attorney, was appointed by the court to represent Crusius.
There are multiple investigations and jurisdictions involved with the case. FBI officials in El Paso served multiple warrants in the Dallas area and interviewed acquaintances of Crusius in Dallas and San Antonio. The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas announced that the office plans to indict Crusius on hate crime, domestic terrorism and firearm charges, and federal prosecutors would seek the death penalty.
A spokesperson for the El Paso County District Attorney's Office said that Crusius would not be arraigned until the investigation was completed.
Crusius was indicted on capital murder charges on September 12. He pleaded not guilty to capital murder charges at his arraignment on October 10, 2019 at the El Paso County Courthouse.
Memorial for the shooting victims
Following the shooting, the hospitals treating the victims were in urgent need of blood. The El Paso Police Department tweeted "Blood needed urgently" and provided information on how to donate. Vitalent, a blood donation center, extended their hours and a donor said the line was out the door.
Police set up a reunification center at MacArthur Elementary-Intermediate School.
Several funeral homes in El Paso and Ciudad Juárez announced they would provide funeral services for free to the families of the victims as a sign of solidarity for their community. Ciudad Juárez's Rotary International chapter organized a vigil in Ciudad Juárez. They gathered at a park and lit candles and shone cellphone lights in El Paso's direction as a sign of solidarity.
Two days after the shooting, a Walmart employee sent an organization-wide memorandum urging employees to strike to force the corporation to stop selling guns. Walmart issued a statement that the company would not be altering any form of gun-sale policies within its stores. Walmart also sent out a memo instructing workers to remove signs and displays that "contain violent themes or aggressive behavior." The company also pledged $400,000 for funds that were aimed at helping the victims of the mass shooting.
On September 3, 2019, Walmart announced it will stop selling ammunition for handguns and some assault weapons in all of its American stores. They also asked customers not to openly carry firearms into their stores.
Antonio Basco declared his wife's funeral on August 16, 2019 to be open to anyone who wished to attend. Hundreds of people from El Paso and other parts of the country attended, and flowers were sent from around the world.
Terrorism experts, including Peter R. Neumann, cited the Great Replacement conspiracy theory as a common factor among several similar attacks. The Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog linked the shooting with the earlier Christchurch mosque attacks and the Poway synagogue shooting, citing the similar white nationalist contents of the respective attackers' manifestos.Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation league, said that the shooting, as part of a series of similar attacks, indicated a "global threat" of white supremacy. NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg urged countries to work together to prevent such "lone wolf" attackers who find inspiration in one another's actions. Others, including the writer Daniel Okrent, disputed the "lone wolf" idea, pointing to the ways in which technology allows those with similar violent ideologies to congregate online.
Several commentators attributed both the El Paso and Christchurch attacks to an ideology of eco-fascism. Writing in GQ, Luke Darby referred to the "distinctly environmental theme" of Crusius' alleged manifesto.Jeet Heer in The Nation described the manifesto as being based in "Malthusian fascism", a worldview in which different races vie against one another in the face of environmental crises such as global warming. Mainstream environmentalists, including the executive director of the Sierra Club, have denounced the attacker's alleged white-supremacist motivations.
Trump and the first lady with the family and baby son of El Paso shooting victims Jordan and Andre Anchondo.
President Donald Trump condemned the shooting as hateful and cowardly later that day. He promised that his administration would provide "total support". In a later statement, Trump announced after the shootings in El Paso and in Dayton, Ohio, that all US flags, both domestic and abroad, would be flown at half-staff until sunset on August 8. In a speech from the White House on August 5, Trump said: "In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America." On August 7, Trump said he was "concerned about the rise of any group of hate", whether it was "white supremacy, whether it's any other kind of supremacy, whether it's antifa".
Within two days of the shooting, #WhiteSupremacistInChief reached the number one trend on Twitter as critics pointed out that statements in the suspect's alleged manifesto mirrored comments Trump had made in the past, including references to illegal immigration as an "invasion" and telling a group of minority congresswomen (all U.S. citizens) to "go back" to their home countries. Media outlets also highlighted an incident in May 2019 where an audience member at a campaign rally suggested shooting illegal migrants crossing the border, to which Trump responded with a joke, saying, "only in the Panhandle you can get away with that".
Former president Barack Obama broke his self-imposed vow of silence on the new president's leadership to release the statement, "We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments," which has widely been interpreted as a criticism of Trump's specific rhetoric. Trump's remark that violent video games contributed to such mass shootings, a view echoed by other politicians such as House Minority Leader of the United States House of RepresentativesKevin McCarthy and Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, drew criticism from the video game industry, as past studies have found that no link exists between shootings and video games, and accused the government of using the medium as a scapegoat.
U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, who represents El Paso in Congress, brought a town hall meeting in the city to an early close following the shooting. Escobar later said there was also a hate epidemic, with domestic terrorism resulting from the dehumanization of others. Texas Senator Ted Cruz issued a written statement deploring "this unspeakable evil."Beto O'Rourke, a native of El Paso who represented the city in Congress from 2013 to 2019, said he was "incredibly saddened" but that "The [El Paso] community is going to stay together. Everyone's resolved to make sure this doesn't continue to happen in this country." Texas Governor Greg Abbott called the shooting "a heinous and senseless act of violence". Texas Senator John Cornyn said that gun violence would not be solved by focusing on law-abiding citizens. Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said violent video games were partly to blame.
The day after the shooting, some prominent Republicans, including Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, also spoke of the need to combat white-supremacist terrorism. Texas senator Ted Cruz decried the shooting as a "heinous act of terrorism and white supremacy". On Twitter, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein classified the attack as "white terrorism".
Dan Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), issued a statement on Twitter denouncing the shooting, with no mention of Crusius' alleged manifesto. The group regularly makes similar anti-immigration arguments to those contained in the document, prompting worries of political fallout from the shooting among FAIR and similar groups, according to David Nakamura in The Washington Post. Both Stein and Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, which also advocates restrictions on immigration, dismissed any connections between Crusius' ideology and their own.
In response to the shooting, some 8chan users claimed that the shooter was "our guy". The purported manifesto of the shooter, after being deleted, was re-uploaded by some users, while others commented that it showed "zero effort", or claimed that it was fake. Following the attack, Cloudflare terminated its website security service for 8chan, commenting that "8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate". The site later went dark after its server rental provider Voxility discontinued its service.
Trump visited El Paso and Dayton on August 7. The president and first lady also met with the mayors of El Paso and Dayton. In El Paso, protesters showed up at the site of the shooting, some claiming that Trump's attitude and statements had led to the shooting; Two days before the visit, congresswoman Escobar said that Trump was "not welcome" in the city and declined an invitation to meet with him. The White House published photos and a video of Trump's trip; in some photos, Trump was pictured smiling and giving thumbs up gestures, while the video was focused on Trump shaking hands and posing for photos. Trump said that he had an "amazing day" of visits, praising the "love, the respect for" him as president.
Javier Corral Jurado, the governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, offered his assistance to Texas governor Greg Abbott and El Paso mayor Dee Margo, and said that Chihuahua authorities were ready to assist in any capacity if needed by the U.S. government. The Chihuahua government also directed Chihuahua residents and Mexican citizens affected by the attack to Mexico's Executive Committee for Victims (Spanish: Comisión Ejecutiva de Atención a Víctimas), and set up a phone line for Mexican citizens who needed assistance. The Mexican Consulate in El Paso provided consular assistance to Mexican nationals affected by the attack, and sent personnel to visit hospitalized Mexican victims treated at the hospitals. The SRE confirmed that the consul Mauricio Ibarra Ponce de León would coordinate with El Paso and Ciudad Juárez officials.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres condemned "in the strongest terms the terrorist attack against Latinos on Saturday in the Texas city of El Paso" and called for everyone to work together to combat violence born of hate, racism and xenophobia. Recently the UN launched an action plan to "fight against discourses that incite hatred".
The incident was mentioned by Pope Francis during a speech in St. Peter's Square on August 4, in which he condemned attacks on defenseless people and said he was spiritually close to the victims, the wounded, and the families affected by the attacks that had "bloodied Texas, California, and Ohio". The Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting happened in California around a week before the El Paso shooting, while the 2019 Dayton shooting occurred in Ohio less than 24 hours after.
Uruguay and Venezuela issued travel warnings to avoid certain United States cities, including Baltimore, Detroit, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Memphis, and Oakland, citing "proliferation of acts of violence" and "growing indiscriminate violence, mostly for hate crimes, including racism and discrimination". Both countries warned their citizens to avoid any place with large crowds, including shopping malls, festivals, and "any kind of cultural or sporting events".Japan issued a similar travel warning, advising its citizens to pay attention to the potential for gunfire "everywhere" in the U.S., which they described as a "gun society". President Trump threatened undefined retaliation against countries and organizations that issue travel warnings on the United States because of gun violence.
"The document parrots some of President Donald Trump's divisive rhetoric about immigration, but the writer said his views predate Trump's rise"
"The manifesto's author said their anger toward immigrants predates Donald Trump's presidency, but the language used bears much similarity with the president's vocabulary."
"[S]ome of the language included in the document parroted Trump's own words, characterizing Hispanic migrants as invaders taking American jobs and arguing to 'send them back'."
"Portions of the 2,300-word essay, titled 'The Inconvenient Truth', closely mirror Trump's rhetoric, as well as the language of the white nationalist movement, including a warning about the 'Hispanic invasion of Texas'."
"The killings almost immediately escalated the national debate over President Trump's divisive and sometimes racist rhetoric against people of color and particularly immigrants, whom he also likened to an 'invasion'."
"It's hard to hear Crusius's words – the 'Hispanic invasion' – and not hear Donald Trump, who's used the word 'invasion' many times to refer to immigration."
"The suspect wrote that his views 'predate Trump,' as if anticipating the political debate that would follow the blood bath. But if Mr. Trump did not originally inspire the gunman, he has brought into the mainstream polarizing ideas and people once consigned to the fringes of American society [...] Mr. Crusius described legal and illegal immigrants as 'invaders' who are flooding into the United States, a term Mr. Trump has frequently employed to argue for a border wall."
Wilbur, Del Quentin (August 11, 2019). "FBI struggles to confront right-wing terrorism". Los Angeles Times. Indeed, the gunman who killed 22 people at a Walmart store in El Paso on Aug. 3 pushed the total number of victims slain in domestic right-wing terrorism since 2002 to 109.
Friedman, Uri (August 4, 2019). "How Many Attacks Will It Take Until the White-Supremacist Threat Is Taken Seriously?". The Atlantic. But in another sense, if U.S. authorities confirm that the document was written by the 21-year-old white male suspected of committing the atrocity, then there was plenty of time--numerous years in which violence by far-right, white-supremacist extremists has emerged as arguably the premier domestic-terrorist threat in the United States.
^Hanks, Andrea. "President Trump and the First Lady in El Paso, Texas". The White House on Flickr. Retrieved 2019. First Lady Melania Trump holds the two-month-old son of Jordan and Andre Anchondo, as she and President Donald J. Trump pose for photos and meet members of the Anchondo family Wednesday, August 7, 2019, at the University Medical Center of El Paso in El Paso, Texas. Jordan and Andre Anchondo were among the 22 people killed in a mass shooting Saturday at a Walmart in El Paso.