A shooting at a supermarket in the US state of Texas that left 20 dead could have been a hate crime, authorities say.
A 21-year-old white man was arrested at the Walmart store where the attack occurred in the city of El Paso, near the U.S.-Mexico border, on Saturday.
A document, apparently published shortly before the attack and believed to have been written by man, advocated white supremacy and racist opinions.
The treaty called the attack a response to “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
The man, who opened fire with an assault rifle, lived in Allen, Dallas, about 650 miles (1,046 km) east of El Paso, police said. The attack also left 26 wounded.
Authorities have not provided a precise motive for the attack, but El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said investigators were looking for a document that could indicate a “possible nexus to a hate crime.”
It appeared to refer to a text published on 8chan, an online message board frequently used by the far-right, describing a “cultural and ethnic replacement triggered by an invasion,” referring to Hispanics in the United States.
The four-page document, believed to have been published about 20 minutes before police received the first emergency call, also expresses support for the gunman who killed 51 people in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March.
Police said the man, who surrendered after being confronted by officers outside the store, was still being interviewed. The Us media named him Patrick Crusius.
“We’re going to aggressively prosecute him as both capital murder and a hate crime, which is exactly what it seems to be,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters.
The shooting is believed to be the eighth deadliest in modern U.S. history, and took place in El Paso, where most of the population is of Hispanic descent.
The victims have not yet been named, but Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said three Mexican citizens were among the dead.
CCTV footage said to be of the man armed and broadcast by the Us media shows a man armed in a dark T-shirt and ear protectors.
Reports from an active shooter were received at 10:39 local time (16:39 GMT), and law enforcement officers arrived on the scene in six minutes, Allen said.
The Walmart, near the Cielo Vista Mall, was full of shoppers buying supplies for the return to school at the time of the shooting.
“People were panicking and running, saying there was a shooter,” Kianna Long, who was in the store, told the Reuters news agency. “They were running near the floor, people falling to the floor.”
Ms. Long said she and her husband stopped by a warehouse before covering up with other customers.
The attack occurred less than 24 hours before another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, and less than a week after a teenage gunman killed three people at a California food festival.
U.S. President Donald Trump described the attack as “an act of cowardice.”
“I know I’m with everyone in this country to condemn today’s act of hate. There are no reasons or excuses justifying the murder of innocent people,” he wrote on Twitter.
Governor Abbott described it as “one of the deadliest days in Texas history.”
The shooting has led to a great deal of sympathy, but also to new weapons control requests.
The attack is the second deadly shooting to take place at a Walmart store this week after a former company employee killed two former co-workers at a Mississippi branch Tuesday.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon posted on Instagram: “I can’t believe I sent a note like this twice in a week. My heart hurts for the community in El Paso.”
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, a native of El Paso, left a campaign event in Las Vegas to return to his hometown.
Previously, she spoke in a labor forum, telling the crowd that the shooting shattered any illusion that gun reform will “come by itself” in the United States.
“We know there are a lot of injuries, a lot of suffering in El Paso right now.”
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