Law enforcement officials said a gunman opened fire in a crowded Walmart and around a nearby mall in El Paso, Texas, killing 20 people and wounding 26 others, prompting urgent calls for blood donations to the injured.
In handing over the updated death toll, Governor Greg Abbott described it as “one of the bloodiest days in Texas history”.
Officials said one of the suspects was in custody. Law enforcement sources say the police have identified the suspect as Patrick Croeseus, 21, from the Dallas area. Sgt. Robert Gomes of the El Paso Police Department said that no shots were fired by law enforcement authorities.
Many senior law enforcement officials believe Crusius posted a book online just before the attack. They say investigators are checking the post they suspect is from it, but have not officially confirmed it.
The sources said that it is too early to extract any motives from this publication. Investigators also say it is too early to determine whether this was a hate crime and that an investigation into the motive will continue.
The shooting was reported at 10:39 AM Central Time, and police arrived at the site six minutes later.
Authorities initially said another person was taken into custody, but later said they believed only one person was responsible.
Among the victims were at least three Mexican citizens, according to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who announced the number in a video clip on Twitter.
“I regret the events in El Paso, Texas, the neighboring town and brother of Ciudad Juarez and our nation,” he said. “I send my deepest condolences to the families of the American and Mexican victims.”
A Walmart employee told NBC’s KTSM in El Paso that it was operating by self-check-out when gunshots rang out. The employee, who wanted to be known only by her first name, Leslie, said she initially thought the boxes were being dropped.
“I thought it was like dropping loud boxes or something like that, until they got closer and closer,” she said. “That’s when I looked at my co-worker, and we looked at each other as if we were shocked and scared.”
“I got all the people I could, I even found a little girl who was missing from her parents, and I got it too. I tried to get as many people as possible,” said a Walmart agent.
Adriana Quizada, 39, was in the store with her two children when the shooting started.
“I heard gunshots, but I thought they were injuries, like building a roof,” she said.
In a tweet, Walmart said she is “in shock”.
A spokesman for the University of El Paso Medical Center said the victims had been taken to various hospitals. University Medical Center spokesman Ryan Milky said that the University Medical Center received at least 12 victims, many of whom were injured “from the first level,” the most serious level.
He said that two children, ages 2 and 9, were taken to El Paso Children’s Hospital and their condition had stabilized.
At another hospital, Del Sol Medical Center, an official said 11 victims between the ages of 35 and 82 had been taken there.
“Our hearts go out to those who were injured and the families of those who might have been killed,” said de Margo, mayor of El Paso, during an interview with KTSM.
The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives responded to the scene to assist the El Paso Police Department.