24 Hours In Dayton And El Paso
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We're going to spend the next hour talking about the terrible violence that occurred over the weekend in shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Together, those shootings left 29 people dead and dozens injured, but they were not the only incidents of gun violence that left casualties this week. In Chicago this weekend, two different shootings left 11 people injured and one dead. In Lafayette, Wis., last weekend, six people were killed and one injured in a shooting. And that was the same weekend that four people were killed and 13 injured at that festival in Gilroy, Calif.
And that's why we've been reaching out to people with different backgrounds and areas of expertise to ask, what should happen now? What solutions can they offer to address this epidemic? First, though, we're going to go to El Paso, where NPR's Martin Kaste is right now.
Martin, welcome. Thanks for joining us.
MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Thanks for having me.
MARTIN: So what has law enforcement been saying today about their investigation into the shooting there?
KASTE: Well, they say they certainly know enough already to bring capital murder charges against the suspect - this 21-year-old man from the Dallas area who surrendered at the - to police at the scene. That means he may face death penalty charges under state law. As to the investigation at that scene at the Walmart, the police chief here, Greg Allen, says today they've moved on now to the task of removing the bodies of the people killed there. And when he was asked what the scene actually looks like, chief Allen sort of seemed at a loss for words.
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GREG ALLEN: You have to see it for yourself. When I first got into this job, I never knew there was an odor to blood, but there is. And until you firsthand see that, my description of it as far as horrific would be unserving as far as what that scene looks like.
MARTIN: And what about the suspect, this 21-year-old who allegedly drove across the state to do this? He surrendered at the scene. Has he talked to police?
KASTE: Apparently, he's talking. Chief Allen said he basically didn't hold anything back, were the chief's words. They wouldn't go into exact detail about whether there's been a confession. But Allen did indicate that they're closer to concluding that this is the man, in fact, who wrote that manifesto - or some people would call it an anti-immigrant screed - that was posted to the Internet right before the shooting started.
And that's really important here because if the suspect basically signs of some sort of confession saying he wrote that or signs a confession saying some of the same things that are in that manifesto, then it becomes easier for the federal government to come in here and make the case that this was an instance of domestic terrorism. John Bash is the U.S. attorney here, and he made it clear that the feds already see it that way - as domestic terrorism as defined by federal law.
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JOHN BASH: The key factor here is it appears to be an intent to coerce or intimidate a civilian population. That's met here - the attack, from what we know in the public record, certainly appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.
MARTIN: And what about that, Martin? What about the people that this seems to have been directed toward - Latino people? Both Americans as well as new immigrants - I do have to point out that apparently three Mexican nationals were also killed in this attack. What's been the response to that in the community there that you've been able to speak to?
BASH: Well, earlier today, I went to another mall very close to where this happened. This is another place called The Fountains, named because it has fountains and, it's a pleasant place for families to go on a pleasant Sunday afternoon like today. And there were a lot fewer people there than normal. It was kind of eerily quiet. And I went into this brew pub that was basically empty, and I talked to the greeter there, Isabel Belmontes (ph) to ask her kind of how she saw things. And she told me that she definitely, first of all, thought people were staying away because of what happened just down the road. And we talked a little bit about the case.
ISABEL BELMONTES: I'm really happy to hear that he's going to be getting the death penalty. That's something that should be done.
KASTE: Another thing they're talking about is treating him as a terrorist. Is that important for you - that word terrorist?
BELMONTES: I'd say a terrorist would be a great description of it.
KASTE: And she went on to say she thought it was terrorism in part because people like the alleged shooter often use the term invasion to describe the arrival of people from Latin America.
MARTIN: That's NPR's Martin Kaste in El Paso.
Martin, thank you.
KASTE: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.