Americans once again grieve for victims of gun violence as Saturday's mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio claimed the lives of 31 people, injuring 50, in less than 24 hours.
In El Paso, Patrick Crusius, 21, from Allen, a Dallas suburb nearly 10 hours away, was arrested as hundreds fled the crowded shopping center where he opened fire Saturday morning, killing 22 and wounding more than two dozen.
Mere hours later in Dayton, Ohio, Connor Betts, 24, wearing body armor and armed with a rifle and magazines capable of holding at least 100 rounds of ammunition, opened fire in a popular nightlife area, known as the Oregon District, killing nine and injuring at least 27 people.
According to Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl. within 30 seconds, police officers patrolling the area shot and killed the gunman.
Video released by police shows the gunman being shot down by officers, just steps away from entering a bar filled with hiding patrons.
In Dayton, the bloodshed was likely limited by the rapid police response according to Mayor Nan Whaley.
Had police not responded so quickly, "hundreds of people in the Oregon District could be dead today," Whaley said.
It is unknown whether the gunman targeted any of the victims, including his 22-year-old sister, Megan, the youngest of the dead.
While the shooter was white and six of the nine killed were black, police said the rapidity of the rampage made discrimination seem unlikely.
Any attempt to suggest a motive so early in the investigation would be irresponsible, the police chief said.
Police have said there was nothing in the gunman's background that would have prevented him from buying the rifle used in the shooting. They said they also found a shotgun in his car.
The El Paso shooting was being investigated as a possible hate crime as authorities worked to confirm whether a racist, anti-immigrant rant posted online shortly beforehand was written by the gunman.
He allegedly published a manifesto indicating the crime was motivated by his hatred of immigrants. El Paso police and the FBI said they are investigating the manifesto to determine whether he was the author.
County prosecutors announced that they will seek the death penalty in the deadly attack. Law enforcement officials said Sunday that federal authorities are separately pursuing a domestic terrorism case.
“I know the death penalty is something very powerful, but in this occasion it’s something that’s necessary,” El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza told reporters Sunday morning.
Local authorities seeking the death penalty does not mean the federal government won’t do the same, but Esparza said in a statement that prosecution in El Paso County will happen before a federal case.
"This horrific act was committed in our community and he should be held accountable by our community," he said.
El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said the weapon used in the shooting was purchased legally, but did not reveal where or when it was purchased.
John Bash, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, told the Associated Press that the crime meets the criteria for domestic terrorism under federal law.
“This meets [the definition], it appears to be designed to intimidate a civilian population,” he said. “And we’re going to do what we do to terrorists in this country, which is deliver swift and certain justice."
At least seven Mexican nationals are among those killed in El Paso. During a press conference Sunday, the Mexican government announced it will pursue charges against the shooter, in addition to those filed by U.S. authorities.
The two shootings are the 21st and 22nd mass killings this year, according to the AP/USA Today/Northeastern University mass murder database that tracks homicides where four or more people are killed — not including the offender.
Including the two latest attacks, 127 people had been killed in 2019 mass shootings. According to the database, since 2006, 11 mass shootings – not including Saturday's, have been committed by men who are 21 or younger.
These violent attacks came less than a week after a 19-year-old gunman killed three people and injured 13 others at the popular Gilroy Garlic Festival in California before taking his own life.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement Saturday calling the shooting "a heinous and senseless act of violence.”
"Our hearts go out to the victims of this horrific shooting and to the entire community in this time of loss. While no words can provide the solace needed for those impacted by this event, I ask that all Texans join Cecilia and me in offering our prayers for the victims and their families," Abbott said, adding that state agencies and DPS are assisting El Paso police with the investigation.
"The state of Texas will do everything it can to ensure justice is delivered to the perpetrators of this heinous act," Abbott said.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) issued the following statement Sunday regarding the ongoing investigation in El Paso:
“Over the last day, the outpouring of support for the victims, first responders, and local authorities in El Paso has been overwhelming and heartening. In response to this despicable hate meant to divide us, the people of El Paso immediately and powerfully came together.
“As the son of a Cuban immigrant, I am deeply horrified by the hateful anti-Hispanic bigotry expressed in the shooter’s so-called ‘manifesto.’ This ignorant racism is repulsive and profoundly anti-American. We must speak clearly to combat evil in any form it takes. What we saw yesterday was a heinous act of terrorism and white supremacy. There is no place for this in El Paso, in Texas, or anywhere across our nation.
“We are all Americans and we are all standing united with El Paso,” Cruz stated.
"We are all trying to piece together what has happened in our community," U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, (D-El Paso), told CNN. "It is unfathomable."
Democratic presidential candidate and El Paso native, Beto O'Rourke temporarily suspended his campaign commitments to return home.
"We have to find some reason for optimism and hope or else we consign ourselves to a future where nearly 40,000 people a year will lose their lives to gun violence and I cannot accept that," O'Rourke said.
President Donald Trump tweeted Monday that Washington "must come together" in the wake of the shootings "to get strong background checks" for gun users, but so far has provided no details on what sort of legislation he would support.
“Our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy...hate has no place in America,” he said.
The Democrat-led House has passed a gun control bill that includes fixes to the nation's firearm background check system, but it has languished in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Trump suggested Monday that a background check bill could be paired with his long-sought effort to toughen the nation's immigration system, although he did not say how.