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Officials ID 22 killed in El Paso; Trump to visit city

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

EL PASO – As the death toll climbed to 22 and President Donald Trump made plans to visit this border city still reeling from the attack, local police released the names Monday of the people who lost their lives in the massacre at a Walmart here Saturday.

Alexander Gerhard Hoffman was a 66-year-old man from Germany.

Jorge Calvillo Garcia, 61; Adolfo Cerros Hernandez, 68; Maria Eugenia Legarrega Rothe, 58; Ivan Hilierto Manzano, 46; Gloria Irma Marquez, 61; Sarah Esther Regaldo Moriel, 66; and Teresa Sanchez, 82, were seven Mexican nationals who had crossed the Rio Grande to do their shopping. The Mexican government said eight of its citizens died in the attack.

“Our borders may separate us; our grief transcends them,” El Paso Mayor Dee Margo said. “We are one region, and we will honor every victim like they were a member of our community.”

The oldest victim was 90, and several were in their 70s and 80s.

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said that in addition to the 22 killed, 27 people were injured. Of those, one was Jordan Anchondo’s infant son, who suffered broken bones as she protected him from the gunfire. Allen said one other person was also injured trying to escape the scene.

He said 15 people remained in hospitals Monday afternoon – two in critical condition – and nine had been released. One other person self-admitted to a hospital and left on his own.

No remorse

Chief Allen also released additional information about the shooting, although he said there are many details he couldn’t yet disclose.

Patrick Crusius, 21, faces a capital murder charge, and prosecutors say they plan to seek the death penalty. Federal investigators are also treating the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism and as a hate crime.

Allen said authorities believe it took Crusius 10 to 11 hours to drive from his hometown of Allen, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, to El Paso.

“As soon as he got here, he was lost in a neighborhood,” Allen said. “After that, he found his way to the Walmart because, we understand, he was hungry.”

Allen said investigators suspect Crusius ate before opening fire on the shoppers.

He said the suspect has been cooperative and forthcoming, and has not shown any remorse during interviews.

“He basically appears to be in a state of shock and confusion,” Allen said.

Mayor to meet Trump

As the city continues to grieve its dead, El Paso Mayor Margo said it is expecting a visit from President Donald Trump on Wednesday.

Margo said he received a brief phone call from Trump on Sunday, and the president offered to help in any way he could.

“This is the Office of the Mayor of El Paso in an official capacity welcoming the office of the President of the United States, which I consider my formal duty,” Margo said. “I will ask President Trump to support our efforts with any federal resources available.”

Margo acknowledged a fraught history with Trump, who has visited the city in the past.

He said he did not meet with the president during his last visit to the city for a political rally about six months ago.

“He is the president of the United States so in that capacity I will fulfill my obligation as mayor of El Paso to meet with the president and discuss whatever our needs are in this community,” Margo said. “I’m hoping if we are expressing specifics, we can get him to come through for us.”

Margo acknowledged that many in the community are already angered by the idea of Trump’s visit.

Trump earlier this year erroneously called El Paso one of the most dangerous cities in America before a barrier was built along the border in the city.

“I will continue to challenge any harmful or inaccurate statements made about El Paso,” Margo said. “We will not allow anyone to portray El Paso in a manner that is not consistent with our history and values.”

‘A generator of hate’

The El Paso shooting was the first of two that occurred in a 13-hour period. A shooting in Dayton, Ohio, early Sunday left nine dead and more than two dozen others wounded.

During a 10-minute speech from the White House, Trump condemned racism.

“Hate has no place in America,” the president said. He also touched on mental illness, depiction of violence in the media and discourse on the internet.

Investigators are working to confirm that a racist “manifesto” posted just before the El Paso shootings was written by the alleged gunman. The manifesto decries a Hispanic invasion of Texas, warns that white people are being replaced by foreigners and advocates for separating America into territories by race. The writer argued that attacking “low-security” targets was a way to “fight to reclaim my country from destruction.”

In the manifesto, the writer says his views on race predate President Trump’s campaign and any attempt to blame the president for his actions is “fake news.”

Still, some, like Ernesto Carrillo, whose brother-in-law Ivan Manzano was killed in the Walmart attack, said the president shares blame for inflammatory language Carrillo called a “campaign of terror.”

“His work as a generator of hate ended in this,” said Carrillo, who crossed the border from Ciudad Juárez on Monday for a meeting in El Paso with Mexico’s foreign minister. “Thanks to him, this is all happening.”

Trump, in turn, tweeted that the media “contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up.”

Trump suggested a bill to expand gun background checks could be combined with his long-sought effort to toughen the nation’s immigration system, but gave no explanation for the pairing. Studies have repeatedly shown immigrants have a lower level of criminality than those born in the U.S., both shooting suspects were citizens, and federal officials are investigating anti-immigrant bias as a potential motive in the Texas massacre.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a leading voice on gun reform since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in his state rattled the country with the slaughter of 20 children, immediately dismissed the president’s proposal as meaningless. “Tying background checks to immigration reform is a transparent play to do nothing,” he wrote on Twitter.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

 

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