This article was last updated at 10:28 p.m. on August 3.
On Saturday afternoon, one of the deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history took place at the Walmart at Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso. By the middle of the afternoon, early reports had identified a lone shooter, with surveillance camera footage of the man as he entered the store. He was subsequently apprehended by police. El Paso police stated that there are no additional suspects. Here’s everything we know so far about what happened.
1. The exact number of dead is unclear, but appears to be 20.
There are a few numbers floating around on the internet right now, but Governor Abbott announced at a press conference that there have been 20 fatalities, with another 26 injured. (Other reports indicate 18 adults and 4 children.) Sadly, this is a number that can grow as people who were wounded succumb to their injuries in the hours after the shooting occurred. We’ll all try to remain hopeful that 20 is the highest end of the estimated victims of the attack.
2. The suspect is a 21-year-old resident of Plano.
Early reports—including from El Paso mayor Dee Margo—suggested that there may have been more than one shooter. El Paso police have since said that they believe the shooter acted alone. He has been apprehended and is currently in custody.
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In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, multiple people were taken into custody. Since then, police have identified the suspect as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, who appears to have graduated from Plano High School in 2017, and who turned 21 last week. Because this is still early, it’s very likely that we’ll get more information about the shooter soon. We won’t link to it here, but by late afternoon on Saturday, a racist “manifesto” indicating a desire to kill immigrants and reportedly penned by the shooter began circulating on social media.
3. This is one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.
Regardless of whether the final number of dead grows from twenty, this is already one of the deadliest shootings in modern American history. It’s also the fourth of the ten deadliest shootings in the country to have taken place in Texas—joining Sutherland Springs, the 1991 Luby’s Cafeteria shooting in Killeen, and the 1966 shooting at the University of Texas tower on that awful list.
4. Governor Greg Abbott and presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke will both visit El Paso.
Abbott announced via statement that he’d be headed to El Paso on Saturday afternoon, and that he’d already spoken to President Trump. O’Rourke, who was campaigning in Nevada—site of the 2017 shooting that remains the deadliest in modern American history—choked up as he spoke about the shooting in his hometown, indicating during a speech that he’d be canceling campaign events and returning home later that day.
Abbott’s response to the shooting was to advise against urgency in discussing political solutions to the problems that led to the attack. “There are bodies that have not yet been recovered. I think we need to focus more on memorials before we start the politics,” he told reporters.
Texas Gov. Abbott on the issue of gun violence after El Paso mass shooting attack: "I think we need to focus more on memorials before we start the politics." https://t.co/HV7Nn4MSVz pic.twitter.com/ZQ8amuS1SQ
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) August 4, 2019
5. There is video of the attack, and the entire area near the shooting went into lockdown almost immediately.
There’s video available from the shooting inside the Walmart as it occurred; we don’t recommend watching it. However, video from nearby businesses, which hastily evacuated in the wake of the attack, offers a glimpse into what it’s like to be near a shooting, and the terrifying impact.
⚠️Video from inside JCPENNY in Cielo Vista Mall as it was being evacuated, due to an active shooter in the area.
Video: Victoria Balderrama pic.twitter.com/7v67DL4mPG
— Celina Renae Quintana KTSM (@KTSMCelina) August 3, 2019
The J.C. Penney store is a few hundred feet from the Walmart. Police urge everyone to move quickly, keep their hands up, and run once they’ve exited the store in an orderly fashion. In the video, you can hear children crying as the store is urgently evacuated.
It’s a sobering reminder of a scene that is shocking for how commonplace it is; as of July 31, there had been 248 mass shootings in the U.S. this year. The latest tally from the not-for-profit Gun Violence Archive appears to put this shooting at number 250.
6. George P. Bush described the shooting a terrorist attack.
On Saturday evening, Texas land commissioner George P. Bush issued a stronger statement than most of his fellow Republicans have in offering not just thoughts and prayers for the victims, but also a powerful denunciation of the ideology of the attacker:
— George P. Bush (@georgepbush) August 4, 2019
The word “terrorism” is loaded—for decades, the threat of white nationalist terrorism was under-investigated by authorities, often for political reasons—which makes the clear line Bush draws here noteworthy. According to FBI director Christopher Wray, the bureau has arrested more than one hundred domestic terrorists in 2019—many of whom were motivated by the same hateful white supremacist ideology espoused by the shooter in the letter he posted online before he carried out his own attack.
Read about El Pasoans’ reactions to the shooting, including crowds of people showing up to a local blood bank in an effort to help.