Texas shopping centre gunman charged with murder in domestic terrorism case

Texas gunman charged with murder and sentence with death penalty.

The shooting that killed 20 people at a crowded El Paso shopping area will be handled as a domestic terrorism case, federal authorities have said.

They weighed hate-crime charges against the gunman, who has been identified by the FBI as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, on Sunday.

If found guilty, he could be sentenced to the death penalty.

A local prosecutor announced he would bring capital murder charges against Crusius, saying the suspect “lost the right to be among us”.

The attack on Saturday morning was followed less than a day later by another shooting that claimed nine lives in a nightlife district of Dayton, Ohio.

That gunman was killed by police.

Investigators were focusing on whether the El Paso attack was a hate crime after the emergence of a racist, anti-immigrant screed that was posted online shortly beforehand.

Detectives sought to determine if it was written by the man who was arrested.

The border city has figured prominently in the immigration debate and is home to 680,000 people, most of them Latino.

Using a rifle, the El Paso gunman opened fire in an area packed with as many as 3,000 people during the busy back-to-school shopping season.

More than two dozen people were wounded, some with life-threatening injuries, police said.

Federal officials were treating the attack as a domestic terrorism case, according to the US attorney.

Despite initial reports of possible multiple gunmen, the man in custody was believed to be the only shooter, police said.

Crusius is from Allen, which is a nearly 10-hour drive from El Paso.

There was no immediate indication he had an attorney.

El Paso police chief Greg Allen said he did not know where the weapon was purchased.

“Of course, normal individuals seeing that type of weapon might be alarmed but technically he was within the realm of the law,” Mr Allen said.

Police say more than two dozen people were wounded in the attack at a shopping area about five miles from the main border checkpoint with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Many of the victims were shot at a Walmart.

“The scene was a horrific one,” Mr Allen said, adding many of the 26 people who were hurt had life-threatening injuries.

Adriana Quezada said she was in the women’s clothing section of the Walmart with her two children when she heard gunfire.

“But I thought they were hits, like roof construction,” Ms Quezada, 39, said of the shots.

Her 19-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son threw themselves to the ground, then ran out of the store through an emergency exit. They were not hurt.

Relatives said a 25-year-old woman who was shot while trying to shield her two-month-old son was among those killed.

Officials said three Mexican nationals were among the dead and six more were wounded.

Ryan Mielke, a spokesman for University Medical Centre of El Paso, said 13 of the wounded were brought to the hospital, including one who died.

Two of the injured were children who were transferred to El Paso Children’s Hospital, he said.

A total of 11 other victims ages 35 to 82 were being treated at Del Sol Medical Centre, hospital spokesman Victor Guerrero said.


Residents quickly volunteered to give blood to the injured. President Donald Trump tweeted: “God be with you all!”

In a document that was posted online shortly before the shooting, the writer expressed concern that an influx of Hispanics into the US will replace ageing white voters, potentially turning Texas blue in upcoming elections and swinging the White House to the Democrats.

The writer was also critical of Republicans for what he described as close ties to corporations and degradation of the environment.

Though a Twitter account that appears to belong to Crusius included pro-Trump posts praising the plan to build more border wall, the writer of the online document said his views on race predated Mr Trump’s campaign and that any attempt to blame the president for his actions was “fake news.”

The writer denied he was a white supremacist but the document says “race mixing” is destroying the nation and recommends dividing the US into territorial enclaves determined by race.

The first sentence of the four-page document expresses support for the man accused of killing 51 people at two New Zealand mosques in March after posting his own screed with a conspiracy theory about nonwhite migrants replacing whites.

In the hours after the shooting, authorities blocked streets near a home in Allen associated with the suspect.

Officers appeared to speak briefly with a woman who answered the door of the grey stone house and later entered the residence.

The shooting was the 21st mass killing in the US in 2019 and the fifth public mass shooting.

Before Saturday, 96 people had died in mass killings in 2019 – 26 of them in public.

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