30 dead, several injured in US' Texas, Ohio after two separate mass shootings reported within 24 hours

Two separate mass shootings within 24 hours left 30 people dead and several others injured in the US states of Texas and Ohio.

Press Trust of India August 04, 2019 23:45:20 IST
30 dead, several injured in US' Texas, Ohio after two separate mass shootings reported within 24 hours
  • Two separate mass shootings within 24 hours left 30 people dead and several others injured in the US states of Texas and Ohio

  • The first shooting took place in the southern border town of El Paso in Texas, where a 21-year-old gunman opened fire at a crowded Walmart store

  • Hours later, a man killed nine people before being shot dead by police in Oregon district, a historic neighbourhood

Houston/Washington:  Two separate mass shootings within 24 hours left 30 people dead and several others injured in the US states of Texas and Ohio, including one thought to be a hate crime, the latest in a string of such incidents in America that have shocked the nation.

30 dead several injured in US Texas Ohio after two separate mass shootings reported within 24 hours

Seth Jacobs, a witness to last night mass shooting, speaks with investigators in Dayton, Ohio. Reuters

The first shooting took place in the southern border town of El Paso in Texas, where a 21-year-old gunman opened fire at a crowded Walmart store, killing 20 people and wounding 26 others on Saturday.

Hours later, a man killed nine people before being shot dead by police in Oregon district, a historic neighbourhood known for its nightclubs, bars, art galleries and shops, in Dayton, Ohio early Sunday, police said.

"The shooter is deceased. There are 9 others also deceased. At least 16 others went to area hospitals with injuries," Dayton police said. At least 26 others were injured, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley told reporters.

He said the gunman killed his victims in less than a minute.  The first shooting that tore through a Walmart jammed with back-to-school shoppers in El Paso on Saturday marked another bleak milestone in a nation pocked by gun violence: the 250th mass shooting of 2019.

And the rampage notched an even darker statistic: It occurred on the 215th day of the year, meaning there have been more mass shootings than days so far this year.

"The ages and genders of all these people injured and killed are numerous in the age groups," El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said.

Texas authorities are investigating the El Paso shooting as a possible hate crime, he said. For several minutes on Saturday morning, the packed Walmart store, where shoppers were busy buying back to school stuff for their kids, filled with gun smoke and the echo of gunfire.

Footage shot on mobiles appeared to show multiple bodies lying on the ground in the store's parking lot. Twenty people were killed and 26 others injured in the shooting in El Paso, said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. President Donald Trump ordered flags on all government buildings to be flown at half-mast for the next five days to mourn the victims of two mass shootings.

"As a mark of solemn respect for the victims of the terrible acts of violence ... I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds" until sundown on August 8, he said in a presidential proclamation.

Condemning the attacks as an "act of cowardice", Trump said there could be no justification for the killing of innocent people. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, "The hearts of all Americans break for the families and friends of those injured and murdered, and our prayers go out to everyone impacted in this latest act of terror."

Congressman Tim Ryan, a Democratic presidential candidate, said, "Mass shootings in America have become the norm...We can't continue to offer up the same condolences again and again with no action to protect our communities."

Marcelo Ebrard, the secretary of foreign affairs of Mexico, said six Mexican nationals were among the El Paso injured. Victor Guerrero, a spokesman for Del Sol Medical Center, said the hospital was treating 11 El Paso victims. Nine were in critical but stable condition and two were stable, he said. Patient ages ranged from 35 to 82.

The University Medical Centre of El Paso received 13 patients, according to the hospital spokesman Ryan Mielke.  The authorities identified the El Paso gunman as Patrick Crusius from an affluent Dallas suburb. He was taken into custody after he surrendered to the police outside the Walmart store.

The authorities said they were investigating a manifesto Crusius, who is white, may have posted before the shooting, which described an attack in response to "the Hispanic invasion of Texas." The manifesto is filled with white nationalist language and racist hatred toward immigrants and Latinos, blaming immigrants and first-generation Americans for taking away jobs.

A Twitter account that appeared to belong to Crusius has been shut down. Tweets on the account had praised Trump and, in particular, his effort to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.

The El Paso attack was the second fatal shooting in less than a week at a Walmart store in the US. Two people were shot and killed at a Walmart store in Southaven, Mississippi, south of Memphis on Tuesday.

"I can't believe I'm sending a note like this twice in one week," Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a message posted an Instagram. "My heart aches for the community in El Paso, especially for the associates and customers at store 2201 and the families of the victims of today's tragedy."

Meanwhile, prosecutors said they will seek death penalty for the gunman behind the mass shooting in Texas. "We will seek the death penalty," District Attorney Jaime Esparza told a press conference in El Paso.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, a not-for-profit organisation that provides online public access to information about gun-related violence, the massacres at Ohio and Texas are the US' latest mass shooting. So far this year, 522 people have died in mass shootings and 2,040 injured, it said.

El Paso has long been both a cultural and political symbol of Hispanic Texas. The city has had a binational feel because of its proximity and ties to its sister city in Mexico, Ciudad Juárez, and has been in the national spotlight for months. Thousands of Central American families have flooded the city and surrounding areas seeking asylum.

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