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El Paso absorbs more grief as death toll climbs to 22

Aidee Gutierrez (right) and daughters Marlene and Brissa embraced at a makeshift memorial near the El Paso Walmart.Mario Tama/Getty Images/Getty Images

EL PASO — The Texas border city jolted by a weekend massacre at a Walmart absorbed still more grief Monday as the death toll climbed to 22 in El Paso, where the shooting rampage claimed more lives than the number of murders here just two years ago.

Anger also simmered, including toward President Trump, who on Monday addressed the nation for the first time since the attack in Texas and another in Ohio. In all, 31 people died and dozens more were wounded.

The possibility that Trump would visit El Paso unnerved some residents, who said his divisive words are partly to blame for the tragedies.


In scripted remarks, Trump urged unity while blaming mental illness and video games. He made no mention of limiting gun sales.

Democratic Representative Veronica Escobar of El Paso made clear Trump was not welcome in her hometown as it mourned. Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, who was an El Paso congressman for six years, also said Trump should stay away.

‘‘This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso. We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here,’’ O’Rourke tweeted.

Other residents in the largely Latino city of 700,000 said Monday that Trump’s rhetoric is difficult for them to stomach.

‘‘It’s offensive, just because most of us here are Hispanic’’ said Isel Velasco, 25. ‘‘It’s not like he’s going to help or do anything about it.’’

The Federal Aviation Administration advised pilots of a presidential visit Wednesday to El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. But the White House had not made any formal announcement.

The authorities are scrutinizing a racist, anti-immigrant screed posted online shortly before police say Patrick Crusius, 21, opened fire on Saturday. Language in the document mirrors some of the words used by Trump, who on Monday denounced white supremacy, which he had been reluctant to criticize.


The El Paso shooting is one of the deadliest in US history. The death toll rose Monday as doctors announced that two more of the wounded had died. Dr. Stephen Flaherty of Del Sol Medical Center described the wounds as devastating and said one patient who died had major injuries of the liver, kidneys, and intestines.

The hospital did not release names or ages but hospital officials described one of them as an elderly woman.

Mexican officials have said eight Mexican nationals were among the dead. Tens of thousands of Mexicans legally cross the border each day to work and shop in El Paso.

Mexico’s foreign secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, said the Mexican government considers the mass shooting an act of terrorism against Mexican citizens on US soil. He said Mexico will participate in the investigation and trial of the man suspected of carrying out the attack.

El Paso has long prided itself on being one of the safest US cities. Years of drug violence in neighboring Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, left tens of thousands of people dead, yet El Paso had one of the nation’s lowest crime rates. Police reported 23 murders last year and 20 in 2017.

The authorities searched for any links between the suspect and the document posted online, including the writer’s expression of concern that an influx of Hispanics will replace aging white voters, potentially turning Texas blue in elections and swinging the White House to Democrats.


Vanessa Tavarez, 36, from rural West Texas, traveled to El Paso Saturday to renew her Mexican husband’s residency and work documents. They arrived with their 5-year-old son to find police helicopters circling overhead.

Shopping at the Walmart where the shooting occurred had been on the family’s to-do list. ‘‘I don’t think anybody would be in favor of him [Trump] being here, first of all,’’ Tavarez said. ‘‘Because a lot of people probably think it’s because of him that everything happened. . . . I just think people will be angry.’’

Juan Figueroa, 24, an Army soldier who has lived in El Paso since early this year, said Trump has a right to go wherever he wants, but he worries his presence might incite violence.

Figueroa said he blames only the shooter, though.

‘‘The big reason I think he was attacking Hispanics was he was uneducated, he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know what Hispanics don’t do or what we do out here,’’ Figueroa said.