Authorities announced Sunday the massacre at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas — where a gunman opened fire, killing at least 20 and wounding 26 others — is being investigated as a domestic terrorism case, and officials are looking into whether hate crime charges for the suspect, who has been charged with capital murder, are appropriate.
The suspect has not been publicly named, but was identified by two law enforcement officials to The Associated Press as Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old from Allen, Texas. Investigators were examining a manifesto that may have been written by the suspect and would indicate a “nexus to a hate crime.”
EL PASO SHOOTING LEAVES 20 DEAD, 26 INJURED; INVESTIGATORS PROBING POTENTIAL ‘NEXUS TO HATE CRIME’
The mass shooting is “devastating for the community,” John Bash, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, who has been in “close consultation” with Attorney General William Barr, told reporters at a news conference on Sunday.
“We are conducting a methodical investigation with our partners, a careful investigation, but with a view towards bringing federal hate crimes charges…and federal firearms charges which carry a penalty of death,” Bash told reporters at a press conference. “We are seriously considering those charges.”
Bash said investigators are also treating the shooting as a “domestic terrorism case,” and said, “We’re going to do what we do to terrorists in this country — which is deliver swift and certain justice.”
El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza said that the state charge against the suspect is capital murder.
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“He is eligible for the death penalty. We will seek the death penalty,” he said. “The loss of life is so great, we certainly have never seen this in our community. We are a very safe community. We pride ourselves on the fact that we’re so safe, and certainly this community is rocked, shocked and saddened by what has happened here yesterday.”
First responders were beginning to remove the bodies from Walmart on Sunday so the store could reopen, officials said.
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Hours after the suspect opened fire at Walmart, another gunman killed at least 9 people and wounded 27 others outside of a bar in Dayton, Ohio.
Anyone with information — including photos or videos of the scene — is urged to submit the content to the FBI at FBI.gov/ElPasoShooting.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.