1 of 4 | Kendall Long comforts Kianna Long, who was in the freezer section of the Walmart Supercenter when the shooting incident occurred. One male suspect is in custody in connection with the mass shooting that left 20 people dead and 26 injured. Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre/EPA-EFE
Aug. 3 (UPI) -- A mass shooting left 20 people dead and at least 26 people injured -- including some Mexican nationals -- at a Walmart Supercenter in El Paso, Texas, packed with thousands of shoppers Saturday afternoon.
A 21-year-old male from Allen, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, was arrested in connection with the shooting in the West Texas town that borders Mexico, Police Chief Greg Allen said at a news conference Saturday night with Gov. Greg Abbott, other elected officials and law enforcement.
Several media outlets have identified the suspect as Patrick Crusius. An individual by that name attended Collin College in McKinney, Texas, from 2017 through this year, the commnity college confirmed Saturday night, adding it is "prepared to cooperate fully with state and federal authorities in this investigation of this senseless tragedy."
The shooter was apprehend without police firing a shot at 11:06 a.m., 21 minutes after police received first notification of the shooting.
A racist manifesto was found online but Allen said they couldn't confirm that the suspect was connected to it. Allen said they are investigating it as a hate crime but FBI officials said it's too early in the investigation to determine a motive.
The suspect is facing state capital murder charges, and if convicted possibly the death penalty. Federal hate crime prosecution is also possible.
Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, said that while the investigation is ongoing for this case, there have been too many cases recently where people behind the attack have a racist agenda.
"The manifesto narrative is fueled by hate and it's fueled by racism, bigotry and division," said Escobar, who represents the El Paso area. "This is someone who came from outside our community to do us harm."
Facebook and Instagram accounts under the suspect's name have been removed,
"Content that praises, supports or represents the shooting or anyone responsible violates our Community Standards and we will continue to remove as soon as we identify it," a Facebook spokesperson told CNN.
"I've been asked how do you prepare for this. You don't," El Paso Mayor Dee Margo said during a second news conference Saturday night.
He noted the suspect wasn't from the area. "No one in El Paso would have done something like this," he said.
In the earlier news conference, Abbott urged Texans to pray and use the power of prayer.
"Whatever your race may be, now is the time for Texans to come together, support each other, help your families in need and make sure El Paso can take a step forward that it needs to take," said Abbott, who ordered flags at half staff through Thursday.
Three of the fatalities were Mexican nationals, according to a video posted on Twitter from President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador. At least six Mexicans also were injured, Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard wrote on Twitter.
Victims were taken to different hospitals, a University Medical Center of El Paso, hospital spokesman Ryan Mielke said. UMC received at least 13 victims with "level one" injuries, which is the most serious level. They ranged in age from 2 to senior citizens. Another 11 victims were taken to Del Sol Medical Center ranging in age from 35 to 82, spokesman Victor Guerrero said.
No names of victims injured or killed was provided by authorities or hospitals.
El Paso police put out an urgent call for blood on Twitter.
Police have set up a reunification center to find loved ones at MacArthur Elementary-Intermediate School.
"It's an absolute tragedy," Mayor Dee Margo said before a news conference. "The scene is contained as it stands now. There is no danger at this moment."
Police first received notification at 10:39 a.m.
"We searching multiple scenes, but primarily the Walmart," said Sgt. Enrique Carrillo said. "There is no imminent threat. There is no active shooter currently."
Police were seen searching a late-model car near the scene. The trunk and doors were open but no one was inside.
Abbott, said the Texas Legislature passed several bills earlier this year that address mental health in the aftermath of the Santa Fe High School shooting in the Houston area. They also took steps to improve school safety, taking testimony from educators. But he said they didn't plan for an incident in a shopping center like this.
The Walmart Supercenter shares a parking lot with Cielo Vista Mall.
Landry's Seafood, Hooters and Red Lobster were on lockdown, CNN reported.
"We never thought it would be so close to us this time," Landry's restaurant manager Oscar told CNN. "You see on the news all the time, but you don't think it could happen here until it does."
He said three Walmart employees took refuge at a nearby Landry's Seafood house.
Walmart employee Leslie Diaz, 25, was helping customers at the front of the Walmart when she heard multiple pops getting closer and closer. Customers started running and screaming for the exits.
Margo said El Paso routinely makes the news because it's a border town dealing with an influx of Central American migrants but this shooting is different. El Paso, with a population of 840,758, is about 83 percent Hispanic, the according to a U.S. Census report in 208.
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, an El Paso native and former congressman serving the area, reacted on Twitter.
"Truly heartbreaking. Stay safe, El Paso," O'Rourke tweeted. "Please follow all directions of emergency personnel as we continue to get more updates."
He also spoke about the incident in a speech in Las Vegas.
"We are thinking about you and we want to make this better going forward," O'Rourke said before departing for El Paso. "Ask for everyone's strength for El Paso now."
President Donald Trump tweeted: "Terrible shootings in El Paso, 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!"
Trump later posted Saturday: "Today's shooting in El Paso, Texas was not only tragic, it was an act of cowardice. I know that I stand with everyone in this Country to condemn today's hateful act. There are no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing innocent people."
The president has pushed for a wall along the entire border with Mexico to stem the number of illegal crossings into the United States.
Mexican citizens regularly cross the border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to shop in El Paso, including this weekend for back-to-school items.
"They drive over or they have foot traffic," El Paso resident Joe Rutland told UPI. "It happens in border towns."
Rutland said he lives on the west side of El Paso, which is on the other side of the Franklin Mountains that act as a separation between the east and west sides.
"One thing I noticed when going out and running errands, later on, was seeing people checking their cell phones a lot," Rutland said. "I asked one person if she had family members on the east side and she said 'Yes, he's a security officer at Cielo Vista Mall and just texted me that 'I'm cool.' That was it."
Families and friends are spread across the city.
"People know people that live on the east side and vice-versa," Rutland told UPI. "It's a pretty safe town and has a record for it over the years. Today, though, is a day that both longtime and newer residents of the city will never forget."
The El Paso Times listed several canceled events and buildings closed, including school activities, the El Paso Zoo, libraries and museums.
The First Responders Night between the El Paso Locomotive and Portland Timbers soccer teams has been been canceled.