EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Multiple people were killed and injured and at least one person was in custody after a shooting rampage Saturday at a shopping mall, police in the Texas border town of El Paso said.
Police responded in the early afternoon to an active shooter scene at the Cielo Vista Mall, which is near Interstate 10 on east side of the city, and were advising people to stay away from the area.
Shortly after, Sgt. Enrique Carrillo, a police spokesman, said there were multiple victims, that a suspect was in custody and there was no longer danger to the public.
El Paso, which has about 680,000 residents, is in West Texas and sits across the border from Juarez, Mexico.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the shooting “a heinous and senseless act of violence” and said the state had deployed a number of law enforcement officers to the city.
A family of three was one of a dozen waiting outside a local bus station, trying to get back to their car, in blocked-off Walmart parking lot.
“I heard the shots but I thought they were hits, like roof construction,” said Adriana Quezada, 39, who was in Walmart with in the women’s clothing section with her two children.
She said she saw four men, dressed in black, wearing shirts, moved together firing guns indiscriminately.
“I saw four men, shooting everywhere,” Quezada said “I told my son, those are gunshots.”
Her daughter, 19, and son, 16, threw themselves in the ground, then ran out of the Walmart through an emergency exit. They were unhurt.
White House staff said President Trump was briefed on the shooting and spoke about it with Attorney General Barr and Governor Abbott.
Presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke appeared a bit shaken as he appeared at a candidate forum in Las Vegas on Saturday shortly after news of the shooting in his hometown was reported.
O’Rourke said he had called his wife before taking the stage and said the shooting shatters “any illusion that we have that progress is inevitable” on tackling gun violence.
The Democrat said he’d heard early reports that the shooter might have had a military-style weapon, saying we need to “keep that (expletive) on the battlefield and do not bring it into our communities.”
“We have to find some reason for optimism and hope or else we consign ourselves to a future where nearly 40,000 people are year will lose their lives to gun violence and I cannot accept that,” O’Rourke said.
Cedar Attanasio, The Associated Press