While Americans stood aghast over the latest rounds of gun violence, President Donald Trump has ordered flags to be flown at half staff for five days, as he also shifted attention from the real cause of the shooting: lack of gun control.
As he faced a barrage of criticisms for doing nothing and inciting the gunmen with his anti-immigrant rhetorics, Trump said without proof that the shooters may have been suffering from mental illness.
He said Sunday that “hate has no place” in the United States after two mass shootings left 29 dead and sparked accusations that his rhetoric was part of the problem.
The rampages turned innocent snippets of everyday life into nightmares of bloodshed: 20 people were shot dead while shopping at a crowded Walmart in El Paso, Texas on Saturday morning, and nine more outside a bar in a popular nightlife district in Dayton, Ohio just 13 hours later.
“This is also a mental illness problem if you look at both of those cases,” added the US president, who is under increased pressure over mass shootings.
“These are really people that are very, very seriously mentally ill,” he said, despite the fact that police have not confirmed this to be the case.
“We have to get it stopped. This has been going on for years… and years in our country,” the president said.
In Texas, 26 people were wounded, and 27 in Ohio, where the shooter was killed in roughly 30 seconds by police who were patrolling nearby and prevented a casualty toll that could have been many times greater.
Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl told a news conference that the quick police response was “crucial,” preventing the shooter from entering a bar where “there would have been… catastrophic injury and loss of life.”
But the shooter still managed to mow down dozens of people.
Biehl said the gunman wore a mask and a bullet-proof vest and was armed with an assault rifle fitted with a 100-round drum magazine.
“You could see the bodies actually start to fall and we knew it was bigger than just even a shoot-out,” Anthony Reynolds, who was outside the Dayton bar when the shooting started, told NBC News.
Police named the gunman as a 24-year-old white man called Connor Betts and said that his sister was among those killed. She had gone with him to the scene of the massacre.
Six of the nine people shot dead were black, but Biehl said the gunman’s motive was still unclear.
In Texas, police said the suspect surrendered standing on a sidewalk near the scene of the massacre. He was described in media reports as a 21-year-old white man named Patrick Crusius.
He was believed to have posted online a manifesto denouncing a “Hispanic invasion” of Texas. El Paso, on the border with Mexico, is majority Latino.
Six of the 20 people killed in the El Paso shooting were Mexican, the country’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said Sunday.
The manifesto posted shortly before the shooting also praises the killing of 51 Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in March.
Police said the suspected shooter has been charged with murder offenses that can carry the death penalty, and a federal official said investigators are treating the El Paso shooting as a case of domestic terrorism.
Major Shootings in the US
Below are some of the bloodiest and most notable U.S. mass shootings in recent decades, ranked by death toll. This is not a complete list of all major U.S. mass shootings:
LAS VEGAS, Oct. 1, 2017 – A gunman opens fire on a country music festival from a 32nd-floor hotel suite, killing 58 people and wounding 564 others before taking his own life.
ORLANDO, June 12, 2016 – A gunman fatally shoots 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub, before he is shot dead by police.
VIRGINIA TECH, April 16, 2007 – A gunman slaughters 32 people and kills himself at Virginia Tech, a university in Blacksburg, Virginia.
SANDY HOOK, Dec. 14, 2012 – A man fatally shoots his mother, then kills 20 children and six adults before killing himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Nov. 5, 2017 – A man thrown out of the U.S. Air Force for beating his wife and child fatally shoots 26 people at a rural Texas church where his in-laws worshipped before killing himself.
KILLEEN, Oct. 16, 1991 – A man rams his pickup truck through the plate glass door of a Luby’s restaurant, then opens fire and kills 23 in the central Texas city.
SAN YSIDRO, July 18, 1984 – A man fatally shoots 21 people and injures 19 others at a McDonald’s restaurant in a San Diego, California, suburb. He is killed by a police sniper.
EL PASO, Aug. 3, 2019 – A man fatally shots 20 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. A statement, believed to have been written by the suspect, called the attack “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Authorities arrest the shooter and are treating it as a case of domestic terrorism.
PARKLAND, Feb. 14, 2018 – A former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, opens fire with an assault-style rifle, killing 17 students and educators. Authorities arrest the gunman.
SAN BERNARDINO, Dec. 2, 2015 – A husband and wife kill 14 people at a workplace holiday party in San Bernardino in Southern California before dying in a shootout with police.
VIRGINIA BEACH, May 31, 2019 – Just before his co-workers clock out for the weekend, a city engineer opens fire at a municipal building in Virginia Beach, Virginia, killing 12 people. The shooter, who had earlier in the day emailed his resignation, is killed by police.
THOUSAND OAKS, Nov. 7, 2018 – A former Marine combat veteran kills 12 people in a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. He then kills himself.