El Paso gunman’s snivelling cowardice
AMERICA has been rocked by two gun massacres in 13 hours, with 29 people killed by young white men with assault rifles in Dayton, Ohio and the US-Mexico border town of El Paso.
Connor Betts appeared to be targeting his sister, who police said was one of nine fatalities when he shot into a crowd of mainly young people celebrating outdoors at an entertainment district.
Betts, who was wearing body armour, was killed in less than a minute by police patrolling the area.
He had no criminal record and his social media profiles did not initially appear to show any link to extremist ideology.
The Sunday morning attack was America's 252nd mass shooting this year, according to the independent Gun Violence Archive.
In El Paso, the young white supremacist with a grudge against the "Hispanic invasion of Texas", seemed to waiver in the lead-up to his vile, white-rage fueled assault on Saturday.
In a manifesto believed by police to have been written by the 21-year-old who perpetuated America's worst gun massacre since the carnage that killed 59 in Las Vegas in October, 2017, he expressed some doubt about the evil he had spent planning for "maybe a month, probably less".
"I have to do this before I lose my nerve," Patrick Crusius is believed to have squirmed in a four-page screed posted online hours before two mass shootings rocked the US.
But buoyed by admiration for Christchurch mosque attacker Brenton Tarrant, bewilderingly easy access to battle-ready weapons, toxic online chatrooms and increasingly febrile national debate about race and immigration as America barrels toward the 2020 election, the white supremacist strolled into a Walmart carpark and let loose with a semiautomatic rifle.
It was a blazing 38 degrees in the US-Mexico border city of El Paso, which just days ago was lauded by its high profile presidential candidate, Beto O'Rourke, during the second Democrat debate as "one of the safest cities in the United States of America, not despite but because it's a city of immigrants, and asylum seekers, and refugees."
Hundreds of people, including the loved ones of the 20 dead and the 26 who are fighting for their lives, can only wish Crusius had listened harder to the voices urging him to hold fire.
A coward in every way, he used a semiautomatic weapon to mow down victims ranging from a four-month-old baby to an 82-year-old, many of them out with family to take advantage of "back to school" sales as the summer holidays wind down.
The evil started in the carpark of the Cielo Vista mall in the west Texas city that sits across the border from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, just before 10.40am.
Crusius, who lived nine hours away in Dallas, fired at a groups who was fundraising by selling bottles of water to shoppers, one of his victims left sprawling beside a folding table under an umbrella.
He then walked into Walmart, rifle raised, with ear muffs and protective eyewear for himself but nothing to save the shoppers at whom he fired as he strolled from aisle to aisle.
Witnesses described an elderly woman, a tiny baby, scores of others falling to his semiautomatic spray. The wounded were later wheeled out of the sprawling supermarket on shopping trolleys.
"The situation is, needless to say, horrific," said El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen.
And although Crusius boasted in his warped online posting that he was ready to die for his beliefs, saying "I'm to going to surrender even if I run out of ammo", he thankfully did lay down his weapon and hand himself into police without any further gunfire.
Another example of how his boasting online words were just more snivelling cowardice in the end.
El Paso Police Sergeant Robert Gomez told reporters the suspect was speaking to investigators. "His motives and what transpired are being investigated," Sgt Gomez said, adding he has not been formally charged.
"This is the most traumatic scene that I've been close to and I can tell you that the investigators are doing their best to complete this investigation proper with the respect and dignity the victims deserve, but it is tough to see this type of heinous crime occur in your community."
Facing capital murder charges from Texas authorities which carry the death penalty, as well as a domestic terrorism and hate crime probe from the FBI, there will possibly be some small measure of justice for his victims. But none of it will bring them back, and nothing short of a miracle will cure an increasingly divided America's utterly tragic gun violence epidemic.
The horror at El Paso wasn't the only shooting to unfold. Hours after residents there learnt the reality of the gunman's carnage, a second shooting unfolded at a bar in Dayton, Ohio.
Nine people were killed by a gunman in that shooting, who also died at the scene.
Dayton police tweeted that an active shooter situation began in the Oregon District at 1 am local time, but officers nearby were able to "put an end to it quickly."
Lt. Col. Matt Carper said at a press conference that the suspect was shot to death by responding officers.
At least 16 others were taken to local hospitals with injuries, police said. No details about the victims were released.
Carper said the Ohio gunman used a long gun and fired multiple rounds.
The shooting took place outside Ned Peppers Bar, on the 400 block of East 5th Street.
"This is extremely unusual, obviously, for any community, let alone Dayton," Carper said. "In our Oregon District, this is unheard of."
AMERICA'S WORST SHOOTINGS
1. Walmart in El Paso, August 3, 2019: 20 killed
Alleged 21-year-old gunman Patrick Crusius opens fire on Walmart shoppers in Texas, killing 20 and injuring 26, including three children. He then calmly surrenders to an approaching SWAT team. Police investigating links to white nationalism.
2. Gilroy Garlic Festival, July 28, 2019: 3 killed
Santino William Legan, 19, guns down revellers at a California food festival, killing two children - a 6-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl - and a 25-year-old man. Dozens more are injured before the gunman is killed in a shootout with police.
3. Virginia Beach government offices, May 31, 2019: 12 killed
Disgruntled worker DeWayne Craddock opens fire, killing 12 people and wounding several others before he is gunned down by police.
4. Aurora manufacturing plant, February 15, 2019: Five killed
Gary Martin kills five co-workers during a disciplinary meeting where he was fired. He wounds one other employee and five of the first police officers to arrive at the suburban Chicago plant before he is killed during a shootout with police.
5. Thousand Oaks, California, November 7, 2018: 12 killed
Ian David Long kills 12 people at a country music bar, before taking his own life. Long was a Marine combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan.
6. Tree of Life synagogue, October 27, 2018: 11 killed
Robert Bowers opens fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during Shabbat morning services, killing 11 and injuring others. It's the deadliest attack on Jews in the US in history.
7. Capital Gazette offices, June 28, 2018: Five killed
Jarrod Ramos shoots through the windows of the Capital Gazette newspaper offices in Annapolis, Maryland, killing five. Authorities say Ramos had sent threatening letters to the newspaper prior to the attack.
8. Santa Fe High School, May 18, 2018: 10 killed.
Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, opens fire during an art class at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. He kills eight students and two teachers and 13 others are wounded. Explosives are found at the school and off campus.
9. Parkland, Florida, February 14, 2018: 17 killed
Nikolas Cruz shoots and kills 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It surpasses Columbine High School as the deadliest shooting at a high school in US history.
10. First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, November 5, 2017: 25 and an unborn child killed
Devin Patrick Kelley walks into a small church in rural Texas, shooting dead s 25 people and an unborn child. The shooter is found dead after the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history.
11. The Harvest Music Festival, Las Vegas, October 1, 2017: 58 killed
Stephen Paddock, 64, fires from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on a crowd of more than 20,000 gathered on the Las Vegas Strip for a country music festival. He kills 58 people and injures more than 500 in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. Police believe the gunman then killed himself.
12. Pulse nightclub, June 12, 2016: 49 killed
Omar Saddiqui Mateen, 29, opens fire inside Pulse, a gay nightclub, in Orlando, killing at least 49 people and injuring more than 50 are injured. Police shoot and kill Mateen during an operation to free hostages officials say he was holding at the club.
13. Virginia Tech: April 16, 2007, 32 killed
Student Seung-Hui Cho, 23, goes on a shooting spree, killing 32 people in two locations and wounding an undetermined number of others on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. The shooter dies by suicide.
14. Sandy Hook, December 14, 2012: 27 killed
Adam Lanza, 20, kills 20 children, ages 6 and 7, and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, before turning the gun on himself. The shooter also killed his mother.
15. Dayton, Ohio, August 4, 2019: 9 killed
Unnamed shooter shot by police after opening fire at Ned Peppers Bar.