“We’re treating this as a domestic terrorist case,” US. Attorney for the Western District of Texas John Bash tweeted after he held a press conference.
Bash said the suspect, identified in reports as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, could face federal hate crime charges and federal firearms charges.
As I just said at the press conference, we’re treating El Paso as a domestic terrorism case.
— US Attorney John Bash (@USAttyBash) August 4, 2019
“And we’re going to do what we do to terrorists in this country, which is to deliver swift and certain justice,” Bash added.
Jaime Esparza, the El Paso district attorney, said the suspect was charged with capital murder, meaning his office would seek the death penalty, reported The New York Times.
“We are a good and loving community, but we will hold him accountable,” Esparza said.
El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said the shooter was being cooperative with investigators.
“He basically didn’t hold anything back,” Allen said, but he didn’t elaborate, Reuters reported.
And Emmerson Buie Jr., the special agent in charge in El Paso, said that the FBI is already investigating the case as a possible hate crime and an act of domestic terrorism, the Times reported.
President Donald Trump said that the shooting was “an act of cowardice” on Twitter, adding, “I know that I stand with everyone in this country to condemn today’s hateful act. There are no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing innocent people.”
Several local politicians said the gunman was an outsider, suggesting he had traveled hundreds of miles from the Dallas area to commit mass murder.
But one official told Reuters that it is not clear how long the suspect might have been in El Paso before the shooting. Authorities did not offer a precise motive, but said they were examining a manifesto from the suspect that Allen said indicated “there is a potential nexus to a hate crime.”
“We are going to aggressively prosecute it both as capital murder but also as a hate crime, which is exactly what it appears to be,” Texas Governor Abbott told reporters.
God bless the people of El Paso Texas. God bless the people of Dayton, Ohio.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2019
Local television station KTSM-TV published two photos it cited from a law enforcement source saying there are security-camera images of the suspect as he entered the Walmart, wearing eyeglasses, khaki trousers and a dark T-shirt, and wielding an assault-style rifle.
He appeared to be wearing headphones or ear protection.
Please be aware that CBP personnel including Border Patrol agents + Field Operations officers have returned to their regular duties. We are not conducting enforcement operations at area hospitals, the family reunification center or shelters. We stand in support of our community
— CBP West Texas (@CBPWestTexas) August 4, 2019
Reuters contributed to this report.