At least 15 people were killed after a gunman opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas Saturday morning, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.
The same official identified the suspected gunman as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius and stressed that the death toll was preliminary and the investigation is ongoing.
Police said at an earlier news conference that the suspect was taken into custody without incident and no law enforcement fired their weapons. The Walmart was near capacity at the time of the shooting, with as many as 3,000 people inside along with 100 employees.
Ryan Mielke, a spokesman for University Medical Center of El Paso, told Fox News that 13 patients — 1 of whom died at the hospital — were being treated at the facility’s Level 1 trauma center. Mielke told the Associated Press that two children, ages 2 and 9, were stabilized at the medical center before being transferred to the neighboring El Paso Children’s Hospital.
Del Sol Medical Center told Fox News it has received 11 patients, 9 of whom were critical but stable condition and 2 who were in stable condition. The patients’ ages ranged from 35 to 82, the hospital said. El Paso police tweeted that blood donations were “needed urgently” to aid the injured.
“Terrible shootings in ElPaso, Texas,” President Trump tweeted. “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!” Trump added. White House Deputy Press Secretary Steven Groves said earlier that Trump had been briefed on the shooting “and we continue to monitor the situation.” Groves added that Trump had spoken to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott as well as Attorney General Willian Barr.
Police responded to reports of an active shooting in the area of the Cielo Vista Mall shortly before 11 a.m. and asked people to stay away from the area and to look for missing family members at a school being used as a reunification area. El Paso Police Sgt. Enrique Carrillo told reporters shortly before 1 p.m. that one person was in custody and there was no longer an “imminent threat” to the area.
Vanessa Saenz, a witness, told Fox News that she heard several “pops” near the area and saw a man in a black shirt and cargo pants with a weapon shooting outside the building before entering the Walmart.
“He was just pointing at people and just shooting,” she added. Another witness told Fox News that his mother died at the scene.
A witness told CBS News that he was about to enter the Walmart when he heard at least 10 gunshots and saw an elderly lady fall to the ground. He said he was not sure if she was shot.
A family of three was among a dozen people waiting outside a bus station. They were trying to return to their car that was in a blocked-off Walmart parking lot.
“I heard the shots but I thought they were hits, like roof construction,” Adriana Quezada, 39, who was in the women’s clothing section of Walmart with her two children, told The Associated Press.
Videos showed some injured people being brought to a nearby Sam’s Club.
Abbott said the shooting was “a heinous and senseless act of violence.”
“Our hearts go out to the victims of this horrific shooting and to the entire community in this time of loss,” he said.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said his office was “ready to give full support to all federal, state, and local law enforcement who are on the scene now and to those who will be conducting the ongoing investigation.”
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, who used to represent El Paso in the House of Representatives, tweeted that the shooting was truly heartbreaking.”
O’Rourke appeared shaken as he appeared at a candidate forum in Las Vegas on Saturday shortly after news of the shooting was reported. He said he had called his wife before taking the stage and said the shooting shatters “any illusion that we have that progress is inevitable” on tackling gun violence.
“We have to find some reason for optimism and hope or else we consign ourselves to a future where nearly 40,000 people are year will lose their lives to gun violence and I cannot accept that,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke’s campaign later said the candidate had canceled planned campaign events in Nevada and California. O’Rourke told reporters he was going back to El Paso to “be with my family and to be with my hometown.”
The Democrat said he’d heard early reports that the shooter might have had a military-style weapon, saying we need to “keep that s–t on the battlefield and do not bring it into our communities.”
Speaking from the Las Vegas airport later, O’Rourke offered ways that people outside El Paso can help the victims.
“I know folks are thinking about us right now. I don’t have words,” he said. “I can’t fully believe this has happened. I want to do everything I can, I know everyone wants to do everything they can to make sure everyone is OK and the community is OK.”
Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar tweeted that she is “utterly heartbroken” by the news of the shooting in El Paso and said she is monitoring the situation.
“Please stay safe,” she added.
“Stay safe, El Paso. Please follow all directions of emergency personnel as we continue to get more updates,” he tweeted.
South Bend, Ind., Mayor and 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg also weighed, tweeting: “My grandmother used to take me to Cielo Vista Mall. Now it’s one more mass shooting scene. How many more must grieve before we act? #ElPaso”.
Saturday’s shooting comes just days after a gunman opened fire at a Walmart in Northern Mississippi, leaving two dead and a police officer injured. In response to the latest shooting, Walmart tweeted: “We’re in shock over the tragic events at Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso … We’re praying for the victims, the community & our associates, as well as the first responders. We’re working closely with law enforcement & will update as appropriate.
And last week, a gunman killed three people – including a 6-year-old boy – before turning the gun on himself at a Northern California food festival.
El Paso, which has about 680,000 residents, is in West Texas sits across the border from Juarez, Mexico.
Fox News’ Garrett Tenney and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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