EL PASO, Texas – El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles says he is outraged by the mass shooting that took place at Cielo Vista Mall on Saturday.
Twenty people were killed and dozens more injured. According to the Washington Post, federal authorities are “seriously considering” bringing hate crime charges in the case, John F. Bash, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, said Sunday.
Those charges could carry the death penalty. Local prosecutors also say they plan to seek a death sentence in the case.
“We are treating it as a domestic terrorism case, and we’re going to do what we do to terrorists in this country,” Bash said. “Which is deliver swift and certain justice.”
Just hours later in Dayton, Ohio, at least nine people were slain, according to the Washington Post.
Wiles issued this statement about the mass shooting in El Paso.
“This Anglo man came here to kill Hispanics. I’m outraged and you should be too. This entire nation should be outraged. In this day and age, with all the serious issues we face, we are still confronted with people who will kill another for the sole reason of the color of their skin.
“I fear things will not get better. Not pointing out anyone in particular, but I’m sick of people jumping in front of the cameras offering prayers and condolences as things just keep getting worse.
“It’s time rise up and hold our representatives accountable at all levels. I want representatives who will stand up against racism. Who will stand up and support the diversity of our nation and our state? Who will stand up for a strong criminal justice system that holds criminals responsible and keeps violent individuals locked up and off our streets? Who will support robust community mental health services? Who will support keeping guns out of the hands of people are are just waiting for an opportunity to kill others?
“El Paso will never be the same because a racist came to our city to try and make a point. It didn’t work though, because the backlash of this community, as we hold national, state and local politicians accountable, will be the only point that will be made.”
Local Disaster Declaration
El Paso Mayor Dee Margo has issued a Local Disaster Declaration, effective immediately.
“This declaration of a local disaster activates the appropriate recovery efforts from the State necessary for the City to address the needs associated with this weekend’s tragedy. Our community has been resilient and we will not be defined by this weekend’s senseless act of violence,” Margo said. “We will stay united as we work through the long healing process. We are incredibly proud of all our local, state, and federal first responders.”
The impact of the shooting, Margo explained, left multiple deaths and injuries in addition to property damage. He pointed out that the City of El Paso faces an exhaustion of resources for long-term recovery, including mental health issues affecting the community and first responders.
Issuing a local declaration of disaster triggers financial and physical assistance, and activates the City and County of El Paso’s emergency management plan.
Mexican American Legislative Caucus viewpoint
The Mexican American Legislative Caucus has also issued a statement. State Rep. Rafael Anchía of Dallas, who chairs MALC, said:
“For all too long politicians have been stoking the flames of hate with anti-Latino rhetoric and policies. Trump did it at the very outset of his campaign and is making it a centerpiece of his reelection. Gov. Abbott has done it throughout his career as attorney general and governor. Their words and policies embolden those who hate.
“Hate crimes against Hispanics have been on the rise and El Paso was the latest and deadliest chapter.”
Texas AFL-CIO viewpoint
The Texas AFL-CIO has also issued a statement about the mass shooting.
Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy and Secretary-Treasurer Montserrat Garibay issued the following statement:
“We are devastated and angry over the deaths of 20 people and injuries of dozens more in the mass shooting in El Paso. We mourn with the City and with the State of Texas, and we commend the amazing work of First Responders, health care workers and the working families of El Paso, including the El Paso Central Labor Council, who are engaged in practical ways to help victims. We stand ready to help in any way we can.
“But none of this is enough, and we all know it.
“The related scourges of bigotry, hatred and ultra-powerful guns in the wrong hands must be addressed.
“Our state and nation need solutions on mass gun violence, and we need them now.
“As long ago as 1994, the AFL-CIO endorsed legislation that would have put reins on assault weapons. There can be no Fair Shot Agenda for working families whose lives end because tools of mass murder make it into the wrong hands. We cannot be silent as El Paso, Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe haunt our recent memories. Our elected leaders can approve policies that respect the 2nd Amendment while keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists. We cannot continue to ‘leave the politics until later.’ The time to act is now.
“Just as importantly, news reports suggest the El Paso shooting is directly linked to a hate-filled manifesto deploring a “Hispanic invasion” and applauding a mass murder of Muslims in New Zealand. The labor movement in Texas has repeatedly spoken out about domestic terrorism, white supremacy and bigotry. We condemn hatred of any group with all the forces at our command. No more.
“We must also hold to account politicians who reinforce hatred based on race, ethnicity and religion. President Trump continues to poison the well of public discussion, giving license for those who hate to come out of their hiding places. We condemn such speech and we equally condemn silence by politicians and others in positions to confront it.
“The facts are not in on what caused the El Paso shooter to move from hatred to infamous action. We are certain, however, that if all of us would speak out against hatred, against racism, against anti-Semitism, against anti-Muslim attacks, against bigotry wherever we see it, we would make future tragedies less likely.
“We are also certain the people of El Paso will prevail. The lines around the block at the blood bank, the donations of food and resources, and the active search for ways to help are evidence that good is more powerful than the evil we have witnessed. Our communities have come together – as they always have – in the wake of tragedy. We need to take the next step and fight for a consensus to stop the epidemic of hatred and violence.”
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles. (Photo: El Paso Times).