Police probing El Paso shooting as potential hate crime

Police are investigating whether an incident in which a man armed with an assault rifle opened fire at a shopping area in El Paso killing at least 20 people was a hate crime.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that 20 people had been killed, with an estimated 26 injured. He also added it was “one of the deadliest days in Texas history”

Authorities confirmed on Saturday that a single suspect was arrested outside a Walmart store – eight kilometers from a border checkpoint with Mexico – and is believed to be the only shooter.

US media have identified the suspect as Patrick Crusiud, a white male from Allen, Dallas.

Since the arrest, El Paso police chief Greg Allen stated that a “manifesto” was being investigated in connection with the suspect and are currently treating the incident as a potential hate crime.

Specifically, the police are confirming whether a racist, anti-immigrant speech posted online shortly before the shooting was authored by the suspect. The “manifesto” is said to include passages condemning the “Hispanic invasion” of Texas with the writer making clear that he expects to be killed during the attack.

The document also pledges support for the gunman who opened fire at two New Zealand mosques, killing 51 people.

Analysis from Oliver Murphy – Editor

The shocking events of El Paso is a measure of the worrying rise in the toxic combination of racial hatred and gun-violence.

With Saturday’s mass-shooting one of many racially motivated attacks to rocked the US, the combination of firearms and racism has become something of a domestic crisis.

But while gun-related violence has always plagued American society, there is no doubting the role of Donald Trump in fuelling the new rise of a fierce racial bigotry which accompanied these attacks.

Indeed, the president’s rhetoric – whether it be ‘America First’ or the ‘Invasion’ – has fundamentally altered the character of the US – transforming it from a tolerant nation to one where extremists are seemingly being facilitated by an administration- able to use violence to fulfill their supremacist agenda.

Americans and lawmakers alike need to ask themselves- how long are they willing to allow the scourge of racism to continue? The El Paso shooting is undoubtedly a nexus of hate, but as long as the demonisation of minorities continues unchallenged, America will never see an end to this kind of violence.

But perhaps of equal significance is the question of how to stop weak gun legislation abetting these abhorrent attacks. Tragedy after tragedy citizens are promised change only for the power of the Senate to be undermined by the lobbying employed of the National Rifle Association (NRA). Surely, the power of an interest group cannot supercede the lives of innocent civilians?

Ultimately, if America is to escape the iron embrace of racial violence it needs a president and congress that will listen to the voice of all Americans, prioritise the welfare of all – regardless of colour or creed – and condemn the ideology of right-wing extremist organisations.

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