(Reuters) – The suspected gunman accused of killing 22 people in a shooting rampage at Walmart in El Paso, Texas over the weekend told police he was targeting “Mexicans,” the Washington Post reported on Friday.
Flowers and candles are left at a memorial five days after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 8, 2019. REUTERS/Callaghan O’Hare
The newspaper said it obtained an arrest warrant affidavit in which police also said the suspect, Patrick Crusius, 21, confessed to carrying out the shooting rampage. Crusius has been charged with capital murder.
“I’m the shooter,” Crusius told police when they apprehended him, according to the Post’s account of the affidavit written by Detective Adrian Garcia on Sunday, one day after the shooting.
Police took Crusius into custody after they responded to reports of a shooting and saw a car stopped at an intersection near the El Paso store. A man got out of the car with his hands in the air and surrendered, the affidavit says, according to the Post.
“The defendant stated once inside the store he opened fire using his AK-47 shooting multiple innocent victims,” Garcia wrote. Crusius said his targets were “Mexicans,” the detective said, according to the Post.
El Paso police declined to comment to Reuters.
Crusius is accused of shooting and killing 22 people and wounding two dozen more on Saturday, shortly after a manifesto appeared online explaining his motivation and decrying a “Hispanic invasion” of the United States.
Just hours later, a gunman wearing body armour and a mask opened fire in a crowded neighbourhood in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine people, including his own sister.
President Trump visited both communities on Thursday and was met with chanting protesters who accused him of inflaming tensions with anti-immigrant and racially charged rhetoric.
The massacre in the predominantly Hispanic city of El Paso is being investigated as a hate crime and act of domestic terrorism, authorities said. The FBI said the Dayton shooter also explored violent ideologies.
Democratic presidential candidates have accused Trump of fanning racist, white nationalist sentiments with anti-immigrant, racially charged language at rallies and on Twitter. They said he has created political climate conducive to hate-based violence.
Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by David Gregorio