The 21-year-old gunman that authorities said shot and killed at least 20 people Saturday at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, is facing capital murder charges, and authorities are investigating a possible hateful manifesto written by the suspect.
Patrick Crusius of Allen, Texas, surrendered to police and was taken into custody following the shooting that also injured at least 26.
The deceased will remain at the scene to preserve the integrity of the investigation.
Crusius is facing capital murder charges, and FBI officials said there is potential for a number of other violations, including a hate crime. The suspect was being interviewed by police Saturday night.
“The situation, needless to say, is a horrific one,” said El Paso police Chief Greg Allen at a press conference Saturday night.
Police responded midmorning to an active shooter call at the Cielo Vista Mall, near Interstate 10 on the east side of the city, and were advising people to stay away from the area and to look for missing family members at a school being used as a reunification area.
A surveillance still released by KTSM 9 News shows the alleged shooter as he walks through the automatic doors and points his weapon ahead. He was wearing cargo pants and a black T-shirt, and appears to be wearing tactical glasses and shooting earmuffs.
El Paso police Sgt. Robert Gomez said the store was at capacity with as many as 3,000 people during the busy back-to-school shopping season.
Police said by midafternoon that a suspect was in custody and the public was no longer in danger.
In June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed off on several bills relaxing Texas’ already permissive gun laws.
Beginning Sept. 1, legal Texas gun owners can carry openly after state or natural disasters are declared (a measure passed as an anti-looting effort after 2017’s Hurricane Harvey), long-gun owners don’t need an additional license, landlords cannot prohibit renter gun ownership and gun-free zones at houses of worship will be optional.
A bump-stock ban effort failed, as did an attempt to thwart the so-called “gun show loophole” allowing buyers to skirt background checks.
The mass shooting in El Paso came just six days after a gunman opened fire on a California food festival. Santino William Legan, 19, killed three people and injured 13 others last Sunday at the popular Gilroy Garlic Festival, and died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh tweeted, “Very sad to hear the news out of El Paso. Our hearts go out to the victims, their families, and the entire city. The government has the power to enact strong and sensible gun laws, preventing more of these recurring tragedies. There should be no debate, we need gun reform now.”
President Trump tweeted, “Terrible shootings in ElPaso, Texas. Reports are very bad, many killed. Working with State and Local authorities, and Law Enforcement. Spoke to Governor to pledge total support of Federal Government. God be with you all!”
Presidential candidates with Texas roots, Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro, also offered their support and condolences. O’Rourke, addressing reporters at the AFSCME conference shortly after 3 p.m. ET Saturday, said he was going back to his hometown of El Paso to be with family.
“We know that there’s a lot of injury, a lot of suffering in El Paso right now. I’m incredibly saddened, and it is very hard to think about this,” said O’Rourke through tears, “but I’ll tell you, El Paso is the strongest place in the world.”
Castro, who is from San Antonio, tweeted, “I’m deeply saddened and troubled by today’s mass shooting in El Paso. It is another tragic, gruesome reminder of the cost of inaction against gun violence. The people of Texas and our nation deserve a Congress that will take action to help prevent this.”
Bruce Castleberry and Herald wire services contributed to this report.