© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Police Continue To Investigate El Paso Shooting As Death Toll Rises To 22


The death toll from Saturday's shooting at a Walmart now stands at 22. Police continue the investigations at the crime scene in El Paso, and people in the majority-Hispanic city are struggling to come to terms with what happened. NPR's Martin Kaste has been in El Paso Texas since Saturday and joins us again now.

Hi, Martin.


SHAPIRO: Tell us more about this higher death toll. What do we know now?

KASTE: Well, besides the names, we also have most of their nationalities. Police say at least seven, possibly eight of them were Mexican nationals. And as we've talked about before, this particular Walmart was a popular destination for Mexicans on cross-border shopping trips. And there was also one German national killed there.

SHAPIRO: And what about the investigation? Do police have anything new to say about the 21-year-old white man from the Dallas area accused of attacking the Walmart?

KASTE: Well, the police are giving a few more details out. The police chief here, Greg Allen, says the rifle used was bought legally near this man's hometown in Allen, Texas. He says it was a - it was called a .762 caliber weapon. It's the kind of rifle you'd see used by soldiers. They believe he drove about 10 to 11 hours to get here to El Paso. He got lost in one of the neighborhoods here, went looking for something to eat, they think, before launching this attack at the Walmart. And the chief says the suspect - you know, he's being held right now without bond. He's already facing capital murder charges. He says the suspect appears to be in kind of a state of shock and confusion is how the chief put it. But he is providing them with evidence. He actually said most of the evidence that they're getting is coming from him. He's talking, and we do know, though, that - now that he does have a court-appointed attorney as well.

SHAPIRO: We also heard today that President Trump plans to visit El Paso on Wednesday. How is that news going over?

KASTE: Well, there's a lot of skepticism here about Trump. He's not very popular, given negative comments he's made in the past about Mexicans and Latino migrants. And the mayor here, Dee Margo, has sort of gotten into rhetorical disputes with the president in the past over assertions that Trump has made about the wall keeping crime out. The mayor has, in turn, been mocked by Trump at a rally. But today the mayor sort of stiffly said that he would meet with the president when he comes here on Wednesday.


DEE MARGO: This is the office of the mayor of El Paso, in an official capacity, welcoming the office of the president of the United States, which I consider is my formal duty. I will ask President Trump to support our efforts with any and all federal resources that are available.

KASTE: And you can hear there that he's trying to keep this - the bitter politics surrounding all this out of this visit. He wants things formal as the city tries to recover from this and seeks federal help.

SHAPIRO: This attack appears to have been intended to intimidate Latinos and immigrants from Latin America. What is your sense in El Paso? Has the attack intimidated people?

KASTE: Well, we were trying to get a sense of that today. Yesterday, there was sort of an anecdotal sense here that fewer Mexicans had come across for shopping trips on Sunday following the attack, that they might've been sort of scared away. I think people were coming to that conclusion based on a lot of the empty malls around that area. But, actually, I talked to the Customs and Border Patrol office here today. And they say that's not what their numbers show; that actually, yesterday, last Sunday, right after the attack, slightly more people crossed over from Mexico here in the El Paso area than the previous Sunday. So, you know, there is a sense here of worries. A lot of Mexicans I talked to down at the bridge in Paso del Norte did say that they were somewhat worried about this. But they said they have to keep coming over here. They have friends. They have relatives. They have business here. So if the gunman was trying to intimidate them and scare them away, that doesn't seem to be working.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Martin Kaste in El Paso, Texas, thank you.

KASTE: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Martin Kaste is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers law enforcement and privacy. He has been focused on police and use of force since before the 2014 protests in Ferguson, and that coverage led to the creation of NPR's Criminal Justice Collaborative.