With the start of a new school year just around the corner, Walmart had supplies out for the crowds of customers this weekend. The store in El Paso near the Cielo Vista Mall was packed with shoppers on Saturday morning.
At 10:39 a.m., the El Paso police received reports of shots being fired in the area. They arrived six minutes later to a horrific scene.
Initial reports on the shooting were conflicting, with multiple gunmen alleged at both Walmart and the Cielo Vista Mall. Later it was confirmed that there was only one gunman and it was confined to the Walmart.
On Saturday evening, a press conference on the incident was held by Governor Greg Abbott, Mayor Dee Margo, Police Chief Greg Allen, and other leaders in El Paso.
Chief Allen confirmed that twenty people were killed in the shooting and another twenty-six were injured.
He said that the killer surrendered to police on a street outside of the Walmart.
Del Sol Medical Center said they received eleven patients from the shooting. By Sunday afternoon, two had been released and one was transferred to another hospital. Of the eight remaining, five were in stable condition and three were still in critical condition.
The local police department tweeted on Monday morning that one more victim had passed away.
Some of the victims were Mexican citizens who were in El Paso shopping, according to a video posted on twitter by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
On Sunday, Mayor Margo issued a declaration of a local disaster to activate an emergency management plan and provide financial aid as the city recovers from the tragedy.
John Bash, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, told the press that they are conducting “a careful investigation, but with a view towards bringing federal hate crimes charges under 18 USC § 249 and federal firearms charges, which carry a penalty of death.”
Bash also said that they are treating the case as “domestic terrorism” as defined at 18 USC § 2331. “This meets [the definition]. It appears to be designed to intimidate a civilian population, to say the least,” he told reporters. “[W]e’re going to do what we do to terrorists in this country, which is deliver swift and certain justice.”
Investigators are looking into an anti-immigrant, anti-corporate “manifesto” allegedly written by the terrorist and posted online just twenty minutes before the first 911 call.
Jeanette Harper, the public affairs officer for the FBI division in El Paso, said that three search warrants were served on Sunday morning in the Dallas area, where the mass murderer was from. The affidavit was still sealed, so Harper could not disclose what evidence was removed in the search.
El Pasoans have united to support the victims following the tragedy.
Hundreds of people lined up to give blood—so much so that the blood bank was not equipped to receive blood from everyone.
As people waited in line to give blood, supporters brought them pizza and went through dozens of cases of bottled water.
Funeral homes in the area are partnering with a local non-profit, Operation H.O.P.E., to pay for the costs of all funeral expenses for the victims.
But it’s not just the community of El Paso coming together to show their support; it’s all of Texas.
On Monday morning, AT&T and Walmart sponsored a blood drive at the Texas Capitol in Austin. By noon, there was already a three-hour wait for those in line.
We Are Blood, the organization running the drive, reached their maximum capacity.
Phillip Lybrand, one of the workers at the blood drive in Austin, told The Texan that it was more of a symbolic drive in honor of the victims. He said that the local blood center in El Paso had not asked for help with the blood supply, but that they would be able to help with the supply if needed.
In addition to donating blood, the city of El Paso is also encouraging people to support the victims with monetary donations.
Those who want to help in this way can donate online here.
Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. While recently finishing his degree in Political Science from Azusa Pacific University, he also interned in the U.S. Senate and co-authored a book on C. S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy. In his spare time, he might be reading up on Dostoevsky or attempting to write a novel.