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Officials Call El Paso Shooting 'Domestic Terrorism'

FBI agents arrive at the Walmart store in the aftermath of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019 (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
FBI agents arrive at the Walmart store in the aftermath of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019 (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

The deadly shooting that killed 20 and injured dozens of people is being called an act of “domestic terrorism.”

El Paso government and law enforcement officials updated the public in a Sunday press conference.

Mayor Dee Margo began the meeting by saying, "El Paso is a resilient city. This will not define us and we will move ahead."

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said, "We are beginning to remove the bodies from the scene so that the scene can be alleviated and turned over to the public again. Later today we will release the mug shot of the individual that has been arrested."

The suspect in this case, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, could face both domestic terrorism and hate crime charges.

FBI El Paso Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie said, "We have initiated a domestic terrorism hate crimes fusion cell. That fusion cell is comprised of agents, analysts, and experts from the counter terrorism division.”

A fusion cell helps to ensure that information is shared across the different divisions while viewing various pieces of evidence. 

"We have completed three search warrants outside of this jurisdiction and we continue to look at other avenues and investigative leads as they come in," Buie concluded.

According to El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza, the state charge against the suspect is capital murder and he is eligible for the death penalty.

"The loss of life is so great and we have certainly never seen this in our community. This community is rocked and shocked and saddened by what has happened here yesterday."

"If I left you with anything, it wouldn’t be what we are going to do forward, I would ask you to think of the 20 lives that were lost. Those were persons in our community and we will miss them and all of the victims who either suffered physical or emotional impact from what happened. We will hold him accountable," he added.

US Attorney for the Western District of Texas John Bash said, "We are conducting a careful and methodical investigation  but with a view toward bringing federal hate crime charges and federal firearms charges which carry a penalty of death. We are seriously considering those charges. We are also treating this as a domestic terrorism case."

City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said everyone involved in the investigation is working diligently to unify family members with their lost loved ones.

President Trump tweeted, "God bless the people of El Paso Texas. God bless the people of Dayton, Ohio."

Crusius has been cooperative with law enforcement throughout their investigation.

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