‘Horrific scene’: 20 killed in Texas shopping centre shooting
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At least 20 people have been killed and 26 were injured in a shooting at a Walmart and nearby shopping centre in El Paso, Texas.
A gunman went on the rampage on Saturday morning at the supermarket, which was packed with up to 3,000 people, including many buying back-to-school supplies.
Shoppers at the Cielo Vista Mall were also caught up in the violence.
Texas governor Greg Abbott confirmed 20 people had died in the attack, saying it was “one of the deadliest days” in the state’s history. It was the eighth worst mass shooting in modern US history.
“The scene was a horrific one,” said El Paso police chief Greg Allen, adding many of the wounded had life-threatening injuries.
Officers said most of the victims appeared to have been shot at the Walmart, adding the mall had also been “secured”.
Sergeant Robert Gomez said a man in his 20s had been detained and police did not fire a single shot. He said the gunman has used a rifle.
The suspect has been identified as a 21-year-old man from Allen, Texas, about 650 miles from El Paso.
During the attack, shoppers fled for their lives, including Kianna Long who was at the Walmart with her husband when they heard gunfire.
“People were panicking and running, saying that there was a shooter,” she said. “They were running close to the floor, people were dropping on the floor.”
The couple ran through a stock room at the back of the store before sheltering with other customers in steel container.
Mexico’s president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said three of those who died were from his country.
Doctors said 23 people had been taken to hospitals.
The University Medical Centre of El Paso treated 12 patients, including two who were transferred to the El Paso Children’s Hospital. Elsewhere, the Del Sol Medical Centre was treating 11 people.
One of the patients at the University Medical Centre of El Paso later died.
Multiple security forces were deployed to the scene of the attack, including police and state troopers as well as Homeland Security and border agents.
Police had urged people to stay away from the complex after receiving reports of multiple attackers at the mall.
But Sergeant Gomez said authorities had ruled out more gunmen being involved.
US President Donald Trump tweeted about the “terrible shootings” and pledged the support of the federal government to the state’s governor.
Terrible shootings in ElPaso, Texas. Reports are very bad, many killed. Working with State and Local authorities, and Law Enforcement. Spoke to Governor to pledge total support of Federal Government. God be with you all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 3, 2019
Governor Abbott described the shooting as a “heinous and senseless act of violence”.
“Our hearts go out to the victims of this horrific shooting and to the entire community in this time of loss”, he said in a statement.
“We have deployed troopers, special agents, Texas Rangers, tactical teams, and aircraft to the scene in a support role.
“The state of Texas will do everything it can to ensure justice is delivered to the perpetrators of this heinous act.”
Presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke said he was distraught by the news of the mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso.
Speaking to reporters in Las Vegas, he said he planned to return home immediately to be with his family and asked “for everyone’s strength for El Paso right now”.
“Everyone’s resolve to make sure that this does not continue to happen in this country.”
Walmart said in a statement: “We’re in shock over the tragic events at Cielo Vista Mall… We’re praying for the victims, the community & our associates, as well as the first responders.”
The mall complex is near Interstate 10 and on El Paso’s east side.
El Paso, which as around 680,000 residents, is in West Texas and is located across the border from Juarez, Mexico.