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Governor: 20 dead, 26 wounded in El Paso shooting

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Twenty people were killed and more than two dozen injured in a shooting Saturday in a busy shopping area in the Texas border town of El Paso, the state’s governor said.

Among the possibilities being investigated is whether it was a hate crime, the police chief said. Two law enforcement officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity identified the suspect taken into custody as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius. El Paso police haven’t released his name, but confirmed the gunman is from Allen near Dallas.

Police said another 26 people were injured and most were being treated at hospitals. Most of the victims were believed to have been shot at a Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall, they said, adding that the store was packed with as many as 3,000 people during the busy back-to-school shopping season.

“The scene was a horrific one,” said El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen, who described many of those hurt as having life-threatening injuries. He also said police found a post online that may have been written by the suspect — one reason authorities are looking at whether it was a hate crime.

El Paso, which has about 680,000 residents, is in West Texas and sits across the border from Juarez, Mexico.

Residents were quick to volunteer to give blood to the injured after the shooting, and police and military members were helping people look for missing loved ones.

“It’s chaos right now,” said Austin Johnson, an Army medic at nearby Fort Bliss, who volunteered to help at the shopping center and later at a school serving as a reunification center.

Adriana Quezada, 39, said she was in the women’s clothing section of Walmart with her two children when she “heard shots.”

“But I thought they were hits, like roof construction,” she said.

Her 19-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son threw themselves to the ground, then ran out of the store through an emergency exit. They were not hurt, Quezada said.

She said she saw four men, dressed in black, moving together firing guns indiscriminately. Police later said they believed the suspect was the “sole shooter” but were continuing to investigate reports that others were involved.

El Paso police Sgt. Robert Gomez said the suspect, who used a rifle, was arrested without incident.

The shooting came less than a week after a gunman opened fire on a California food festival. Santino William Legan, 19, killed three people and injured 13 others last Sunday at the popular Gilroy Garlic Festival, and died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

White House staff said President Trump was briefed on the shooting and spoke about it with Attorney General Barr and Governor Abbott.

Dani Smith

News Producer

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