President Donald Trump will visit El Paso on Wednesday, in the aftermath of a mass shooting that authorities say was carried about out by a white supremacist, Mayor Dee Margo told reporters on Monday.
News of the planned visit has been met with mixed response in a city still reeling from an attack at a Walmart on Saturday that left 22 people dead and more than two dozen wounded.
“I want to clarify for the political spin that this is the Office of the Mayor of El Paso in an official capacity welcoming the Office of the President of the United States, which I consider is my formal duty,” Margo said at a press conference.
The mayor dismissed criticism he was receiving for welcoming the President from those angry about the administration’s immigration policy.
“We’re not dealing with that right now. We’re dealing with a tragedy of 22 people who have perished by an evil, hateful act of white supremacist that has no bearing or belong in El Paso,” Margo said. “…I guess for people who have lots of time on their hands, I will deal with their emails and phone calls.’
The mayor said he planned to ask Trump to provide any and all federal resources that are available.
“Recovery is no small task,” Margo said.”Together we will rise out of this tragedy,” Margo said.
The toll in the massacre rose Monday to 22 people killed and more than two dozen injured, and it was one of three major mass shootings across the US in the past week.
But even among that horrific trio, the shooting Saturday in El Paso stood out as a domestic terrorist attack designed to inspire fear among Hispanic immigrants to the US. The attack took place at a spot along the US-Mexico border frequented by Mexicans, and it was carried out by authoritis say by a man who posted a political document explaining his hatred of immigrants and race-mixing.
The 21-year-old white supremacist suspected of carrying out a deadly shooting at a Walmart in El Paso wanted to stop a “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” according to a political document police believe he wrote.
President Trump on Monday morning said the shooter’s manifesto was “consumed with racist hate.”
“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” he said. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart and devours the soul.”
But he did not acknowledge his own divisive and racist rhetoric or address the suspect’s access to firearms, and instead focused on unrelated issues of mental health and violent video games.
There has been no evidence the El Paso shooting suspect had mental health issues or played violent video games. In addition, American Psychological Association President Rosie Phillips Davis rejected the mental illness argument, saying that “blaming mass shootings on mental illness is unfounded and stigmatizing.”
The suspect, Patrick Crusius, has been charged with capital murder and is being held without bond, according to court documents.
Crusius has been cooperating with authorities since his arrest, Police Chief Greg Allen said.
“He volunteered most of the evidence,” he said.
Crusius “took about 10 to 11 hours” to drive from his home in Allen, Texas, to El Paso, Allen said.
“As soon as he got here, he was lost in a neighborhood,” Allen said “After that he found his way to the Walmart because we understand he was hungry.”
Allen declined to detail the events inside the Walmart, citing an ongoing investigation. Allen said Crusius used a 7.62-caliber weapon in shooting. describe the weapon Crusius used in the shooting. It was purchased legally near Crusius’ hometown, he said.
Crusius was arrested without incident Saturday after getting out of his vehicle and approaching police unarmed as they arrived at the Walmart, El Paso Police Sgt. Robert Gomez said.
While in custody, Crusius has shown no remorse or regret over the shooting, and he has been “cold” in his interactions with authorities, El Paso police officials told CNN.
Another police official who came face-to-face with him told CNN, “he had a stone cold look when he was arrested. It was nothing short of evil.”
“It was a look I’d never seen before, and I’ve been on this force for 31 years,” the official said. “I’ve seen murderers, robbers, nothing like this.”
Suspect wrote a ‘manifesto,’ police say
Crusius was from Allen, a suburb of Dallas, and had no apparent ties to El Paso County, where 83% of residents are Hispanic or Latino, according to the US Census Bureau.
For his target, the suspect chose one of the largest and safest cities on the US-Mexico border, a place central to the Trump administration’s hardline stance on immigration and a city that state Rep. Cesar Blanco called “ground zero” of the administration’s family separations policy.
Authorities are investigating a racist, anti-immigrant document they believe was posted online by the suspect.
The four-page document, titled “The Inconvenient Truth,” was published on the online message board 8chan about 20 minutes before the shooting. The writing is filled with white supremacist language and racist hatred aimed at immigrants and Latinos, and the author says he opposes “race mixing” and encourages immigrants to return to their home countries.
The 2,300-word “manifesto,” as police called it, was attached to a post that read: “I’m probably going to die today.”
That document said it took less than a month to plan the shooting.
Some of the language of the manifesto reflects ideas from President Trump, Fox News and the modern Republican party. For example, the document warns of a “Hispanic invasion” and says Democrats are using “open borders” and “free healthcare for illegals” to attract new voters.
The writer cited a fear that an influential Hispanic population in Texas would make the state a “Democratic stronghold” and said “the Republican Party is also terrible” because the GOP is in his mind pro-corporation, which could lead to more immigration.
The writer said he held these beliefs before Donald Trump became President.
Crusius has lived in his Allen for two years and has been unemployed for five months, according to his application for appointment of counsel. He states that he has no income and lives with his grandparents.
What’s next in El Paso
Federal authorities are treating the shooting as a case of domestic terrorism, US Attorney for the Western District of Texas John Bash said Sunday, as it “appears to be designed to intimidate a civilian population, to say the least.”
The Justice Department is also “seriously considering” bringing federal hate crime and federal firearm charges, which carry a possible death penalty, he said.
On Sunday, Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard called the shooting an act of terrorism against Mexicans in the US and said in a press conference that the Mexican government will look into whether there is enough evidence to solicit the extradition of the gunman to face charges in Mexico.
Ebrard visited El Paso Monday and said Mexico will participate in the ongoing investigation of the shooting. Mexican authorities are also “analyzing actions regarding gun control,” Ebrard said.
Regarding Trump’s comments, Ebrard said “we listened to President Trump’s statement earlier today and share his condemnation of racism and xenophobia as serious problems in the US.”
Locally, the effect of the shooting could be seen as stores and kiosks at Cielo Vista mall reopened and came back to life. Chairs, medical equipment from a blood donation drive and a small blood stain on the floor near the closest emergency exit are clear signs of how quickly people ran to take cover when the shooting began.
Jazmin Olvera, 32, a cashier at the mall, rushed to a storage room with colleagues and customers as security guards and police placed the entire mall on lockdown on Saturday. Monday was her second day back at work after the shooting, and she said sudden movements and loud noises were making her jump.
“A teenager who was walking around the mall yesterday bumped into a trash can yesterday and everybody around got super quiet right away,” she said. “It got tense real quick. He just look around and said ‘Sorry, guys.'”
Among the victims was a mother shielding her baby
Police identified the 22 victims Monday. Among the dead were 13 Americans, seven were Mexican, one German and another with undetermined citizenship.
Some families have begun sharing their loved ones’ stories.
Jordan and Andre Anchondo were shopping for school supplies in Walmart Saturday after dropping off their 5-year-old daughter at cheerleading practice.
The couple was killed in the massacre, but their 2-month-old son survived after his mom shielded him from the gunfire.
“The baby still had her blood on him. You watch these things and see these things and you never think this is going to happen to your family,” Elizabeth Terry, Jordan Anchondo’s aunt, told CNN.
Angie Englisbee, 86, was also killed.
Her son, Will Englisbee, told CNN his brother spoke with Angie Englisbee at 10:31 a.m. local time when she was in Walmart’s check-out line. The first reports of an active shooter went out at 10:39 a.m. local time, the police chief said.
A 60-year-old Army veteran and bus driver, Arturo Benavides, was also killed, his niece told CNN.
“He was an absolutely caring and strong-willed man,” Jacklin Luna said. “He was the person that would give any dime and shirt off his back, a meal and a home to anyone.”
He loved telling stories of his Army days as a staff sergeant, she said.
“He deserves nothing less than the world to know everything he did and the love he had left to share,” Luna said.
Leo Campos and Maribel Hernandez were also among those killed, according to CNN affiliate KFOX/KDBC.
They had dropped off their dog at the groomer before heading to Walmart, Hernandez’s brother, Al Hernandez, told the affiliate. The family didn’t know anything was wrong until the groomer called them and said the dog hadn’t been picked up.
The Clint Independent School District shared a picture Saturday of missing student Javier Amir Rodriguez, 15, because his aunt was trying to find him.
The school district confirmed the teen’s death Monday on Facebook. The district is holding a memorial for him at 7 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET).
Dave Johnson was identified as one of the victims Monday, according to his daughter Stephanie Melendez. Margie Reckard, 67, was also identified as a victim, her husband, Antonio Basco, told CNN.
Eight Mexican nationals also lost their lives.
Ebrard, the foreign affairs secretary, identified the first seven via Twitter Sunday as Sara Esther Regalado, Adolfo Cerros Hernández, Jorge Calvillo García, Elsa Mendoza de la Mora, Gloria Irma Márquez, María Eugenia Legarreta Rothe and Ivan Filberto Manzano. He identified the eighth victim Monday as Juan de Dios Velasquez Chairez.
The other victims identified, according to Allen, include: US citizens Maria and Raul Flores, both 77; German citizen Alexander Gerhard Hoffman, 66; US citizen Luis Alfonzo Juarez, 90; and Mexican national Teresa Sanchez, 82.