Latest On El Paso Shooting: Scheduled Trump Visit Has Some Residents On Edge | KERA News

Latest On El Paso Shooting: Scheduled Trump Visit Has Some Residents On Edge

Aug 5, 2019

El Paso's weekend massacre claimed more lives than the number of murders in the border city just two years ago. And the possibility that Trump would visit in the wake of such tragedy unnerved some residents who said his divisive words are partly to blame. 

El Paso Mayor Dee Margo says President Donald Trump will visit the city Wednesday.

Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar of El Paso made clear that the president was not welcome in her hometown as it mourned 22 people killed in the mass shooting. Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, who was an El Paso congressman for six years, also said Trump should stay away.

"This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday's tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso. We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here," O'Rourke tweeted.

Other residents in the largely Latino city of 700,000 said Monday that Trump's rhetoric is difficult for them to stomach.

"It's offensive just because most of us here are Hispanic" said Isel Velasco, 25. "It's not like he's going to help or do anything about it."

The White House hasn't announced the trip but the Federal Aviation Administration has advised pilots of a presidential visit that day to El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, where a second weekend shooting left nine people dead.

Margo says he's "already getting emails and phone calls" about welcoming Trump to town.

Democratic lawmakers and some residents have said Trump isn't welcome in the largely Latino border city based on his past anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Authorities are scrutinizing a racist, anti-immigrant screed posted online shortly before the attack. Trump on Monday condemned racism and bigotry while addressing the nation for the first time since the shooting.

The El Paso shooting is one of the deadliest in U.S. history. Tens of thousands of Mexicans legally cross the border each day to work and shop in El Paso.

El Paso has long prided itself on being one of the safest cities in the nation. When years of drug cartel-driven violence in neighboring Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, left tens of thousands of people dead, El Paso still had one of the nation's lowest crime rates. Police reported 23 murders last year and 20 the year before that, making Saturday's rampage a year's worth of bloodshed.

Vanessa Tavarez, 36, from the rural West Texas town of Seagraves, traveled to El Paso on Saturday to renew her Mexican husband's residency and work documents. They arrived with their 5-year-old son at a motel only to find police helicopters circling overhead and the swimming pool on lockdown.

Shopping at the Walmart where the shooting occurred was on the family's to-do list before the shooting occurred. Fear nagged at them, Tavarez said, as they bought supplies that aren't available at home and caught a movie.

"I don't think anybody would be in favor of him (Trump) being here, first of all," Tavarez said. "Because a lot of people probably think it's because of him that everything happened. ... I just think people will be angry."

Juan Figueroa, a 24-year-old Army soldier who has lived in El Paso since early this year, said his feelings about the president are complex. He said Trump has a right to go wherever he wants, including El Paso, but he worries that the president's presence might incite more violence.

But Figueroa said he blames only the shooter for his actions.

"The big reason I think he was attacking Hispanics was he was uneducated, he doesn't know. He doesn't know what Hispanics don't do or what we do out here," Figueroa said. "I mean, there's always going to be people out there that hate other groups."

More updates:

The shooting suspect

Authorities in El Paso, Texas, say the suspected gunman who opened fire at a Walmart and killed 22 people wound up at the store after driving more than 10 hours from the Dallas area.

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said Monday that the gunman got lost in a neighborhood before ending up at Walmart "because, we understand, he was hungry." Allen didn't elaborate.

The details were some of the first to come out regarding the suspected gunman's movements in El Paso prior to the shooting Saturday. Authorities have charged 21-year-old Patrick Crusius with capital murder.

This image provided by the FBI shows Patrick Crusius.
Credit FBI via Associated Press

Crusius' hometown is Allen, north of Dallas. The police chief said the gun used in the shooting was legally purchased near the suspect's hometown.

Also, Crusius has told authorities that he's been unemployed for five months.

Patrick Crusius says in his application for a public defender that he has no income, assets or expenses and that he has been living with his grandparents. The document was filed with the El Paso County district clerk's office Sunday and appears to indicate that the 21-year-old Crusius qualifies for a court-appointed attorney.

Police shut down streets around Crusius' grandparents' home in Allen in the hours after the mass shooting more than 600 miles away. The FBI says agents searched their home and two other homes where Crusius had stayed.

Larry and Cynthia Brown said in a statement read by a family friend that their grandson moved out six weeks ago.

His grandparents say they are "devastated" and are praying for the victims.

KDFW reports a family friend read a statement from Larry and Cynthia Brown, grandparents of Crusius, on Sunday outside the couple's home in Allen.

The Browns say Crusius lived at their home while he attended Collin College in nearby McKinney. They say that while his driver's license shows the Allen residence, Crusius moved out of the home six weeks ago.

KDFW also reports officers from the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have been at the Browns' home since the shooting.

Allen is more than 600 miles from where Saturday's rampage occurred. More than two dozen people were also injured.

The FBI says the gunman didn't have any contacts in El Paso.

Allen police say they had few past interactions with 21-year-old Patrick Wood Crusius.

Authorities in Allen released a statement Sunday saying their contact with Crusius "can be described as limited at best."

Crusius has been booked on capital murder charges nearly 600 miles away in El Paso. 

Allen police say Crusius was reported as a juvenile runaway in 2014 but returned home roughly a half-hour later. He was also among eight students on a school bus involved in a minor crash in 2016 that resulted in no injuries.

Allen police say their last involvement with Crusius came in March, when he reported a false residential alarm at his grandparents' home.

President Trump

After one of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history, President Donald Trump called for bipartisan solutions to mass shootings. But he offered few details Monday, and he's facing pointed questions from Democrats about whether he had the moral authority to rally a nation against the spasm of violence and racism.

Trump, back at the White House after remaining largely out of view for two days at his New Jersey golf club, declared the shootings in Texas and Ohio barbaric crimes "against all humanity" and called for unity to respond to an epidemic of gun violence. He blamed mental illness and video games but made no mention of more limits on the firearms that can be sold.

He said he wants legislation providing "strong background checks" for gun users, though he has reneged on previous promises after mass attacks. He offered few details.

"We vow to act with urgent resolve," Trump said, speaking from the White House about shootings that left 31 dead as the count rose on Monday.

His scripted remarks came after two days of muted response to the shootings, and included a solitary denunciation of white supremacy, which he has been reluctant to criticize.

"In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy," Trump said, adding that he had directed the FBI to examine steps to identify and address domestic terrorism. "These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America," he said.

Trump suggested earlier Monday on Twitter that a background check bill could be paired with his long-sought effort to toughen the nation's immigration system. But he didn't say how or why he was connecting the issues. Both shooting suspects were U.S. citizens, and federal officials are investigating anti-immigrant bias as a potential motive for the El Paso, Texas, massacre.

He did not elaborate on that proposal during his 10-minute address from the Diplomatic Reception Room. But Trump has frequently sought to tie his immigration priorities — a border wall and transforming the legal immigration system to one that prioritizes merit over familial ties — to legislation around which he perceives momentum to be building.

The American flag flies at half-staff at the White House in Washington on Sunday to honor those killed in two mass shootings, one in Dayton, Ohio, and one in El Paso.
Credit Associated Press

President Donald Trump is ordering flags at half-staff in remembrance of the victims of two mass shootings in less than a day that killed at least 29 people and injured dozens more.

A proclamation released by the White House on Sunday says the nation shares "in the pain and suffering of all those who were injured in these two senseless attacks."

 

» MORE about what Trump said during his address Monday

Democrats' response to Trump

Democrats on Monday accused Trump of fostering an environment of hate that led to the shootings, and they angrily renewed their calls for his defeat next year.

"He's been racist from day one — before day one when he was questioning whether Barack Obama was born in the United States," said former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, a 2020 presidential contender who represented El Paso. "He's trafficked in this stuff from the very beginning, and we are reaping right now what he has sown and what his supporters in Congress have sown. We have to put a stop to it."

Former President Obama posted a statement in which he called for the nation to "soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist statements." Obama did not mention the president by name.

If President Donald Trump is serious about strengthening gun laws in the wake of two mass shootings, he should demand that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put a House-passed bill strengthening background checks up for a vote, congressional Democrats said Monday.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate GOP leader is blocking gun safety reforms that more than 90% of Americans support. He tweeted that McConnell, R-Ky., should "gavel the Senate into emergency session to take immediate action" on the House-passed bill, which would require federal background checks for all firearms sales and transfers, including those sold online or at gun shows. Another bill allows an expanded 10-day review for gun purchases.

The House approved the bills in February but they have not come up for consideration in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The victims

Authorities say two more people have died from the weekend mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, raising the death toll in that attack to 22. 

Dr. Stephen Flaherty, of the Del Sol Medical Center, said at a news conference that the 22nd patient was a victim of Saturday’s attack and died at the hospital. Police tweeted that that patient died just after 10 a.m. Monday.

More than two dozen people were injured in the attack.

Mexico's response

Mexico's foreign secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, says the Mexican government considers the mass shooting at a Texas Walmart to be an act of terrorism against Mexican citizens on U.S. soil.

Ebrard said at a news conference Monday that eight of the 22 people killed in Saturday's attack in El Paso were Mexican nationals, as were six of the roughly two dozen people who were wounded.

He says he's been meeting with U.S. law enforcement and will forward what he has learned to Mexico's attorney general on Tuesday. Ebrard also says Mexico will participate in the investigation and trial of the man suspected of carrying out the attack.

Ebrard said Mexico would take legal action against the business that sold the shooter the gun and that its Attorney General's Office would declare it an act of terrorism against Mexican citizens.

This would give Mexican prosecutors access to information about the case, Ebrard said. Then the Attorney General would decide whether to pursue the shooter's extradition to Mexico.

"For Mexico this individual is a terrorist," he said.

"Mexico is outraged."

» MORE on the Mexican government's response to the El Paso shooting

Authorities are investigating the attack as a possible hate crime aimed at immigrants.

Ebrard says Mexico will take legal action to protect Mexicans and Americans of Mexican descent after the shooting in El Paso.

In a video statement, Ebrard called the shooting an "act of barbarism" and said the country's first priority is attending to the impacted families.

Next, he said, Mexico plans to seek legal measures to protect Mexican nationals and Mexican-Americans in the U.S.

El Paso is a popular weekend shopping destination for Mexicans who live across the border, in Ciudad Juarez.

The victims

Dr. Flaherty said that gunshot wounds of the patients treated at the Del Sol Medical Center have been "devastating and major."

He said one patient who died at the hospital had major internal abdominal injuries affecting the liver, kidneys and intestines. That patient also received a "massive blood transfusion," Flaherty said.

The hospital didn't release the names or ages of the two patients who died Monday, but hospital officials described one as an elderly woman.

Another patient remained in critical condition at the hospital and five others were in stable condition, two days after the Saturday attack in which more than two dozen people were wounded. Victims were also treated at other El Paso hospitals.

Police still haven't released a list of the victims of the attack, which happened hours before a separate mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, that claimed nine lives.

The number of victims who were Mexican citizens has been raised to eight.

The governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua says the attack was an "act of hate" against immigration, particularly immigration from Latin America.

Chihuahua state Gov. Javier Corral Jurado told reporters outside of the Mexican consulate in El Paso on Monday that the Mexican government may approach Saturday's mass shooting as an act of terrorism.

He says there's a growing "discriminatory and racist current" in the U.S. and that "we are living with the consequences of not stopping this narrative of hate."

He says he has been meeting with Mexicans who were wounded in the attack and relatives of Mexicans who were killed. Of the eight Mexican citizens killed, he said six were from the state of Chihuahua, which is across the border from El Paso.

» MORE ABOUT THE VICTIMS | Here's what we know about some of the El Paso shooting victims, including the names and cities of the Mexican citizens.

El Paso

The city of El Paso issued a local disaster declaration following the shooting.

The declaration by Mayor Dee Margo allowed for state financial assistance and activates the city's emergency management plan.

Margo issued the declaration on Sunday, one day after a gunman opened fire at a crowded shopping area.

Margo says the El Paso community is resilient and will not be defined by the rampage.

President Donald Trump has denounced two mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, saying "hate has no place in our country."

Addressing reporters in Morristown, New Jersey, Trump said Sunday that "we're going to take care" of the problem. The president says he's been speaking to the attorney general, FBI director and members of Congress, and will be making an additional statement Monday.

FBI agents have executed search warrants at three homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area where suspected El Paso gunman Patrick Wood Crusius had stayed.

An agency spokeswoman, Melinda Urbina, declined to give more details on the locations.

One of them was the home of his grandparents in Allen, where authorities shut down streets following the shooting.

Allen, located 20 miles north of Dallas in Collin County, is an affluent community of about 100,000.

More reporting:

The president of a leading Hispanic group says politicians such as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and President Donald Trump must stop making anti-immigrant statements that he blamed for "costing the lives of innocent people."

Speaking in downtown El Paso on Sunday, League of United Latin American Citizens president Domingo Garcia said that "unfortunately what we saw here was another massacre by again somebody using racial hatred as a basis to kill people a Mexican American descent, and we need to stand up and fight against it."

The shooter appears to have been targeting Hispanics and authorities are investigating it as a hate crime.