June 2, 2023
El Paso mall shooting leaves 1 dead, 3 injured. At a store next door, 23 people were killed in another mass shooting in 2019 | CNN

El Paso mall shooting leaves 1 dead, 3 injured. At a store next door, 23 people were killed in another mass shooting in 2019 | CNN


One person was killed and three others were injured in a shooting Wednesday evening at a mall in El Paso, Texas, police said, sending patrons running or sheltering in a community scarred three years ago by a shooting massacre in a store just down the road.

Two people, both male, were taken into custody after the gunfire inside the Cielo Vista Mall, interim El Paso Police Chief Peter Pacillas said Wednesday night. Police have not commented on possible motives.

“It was chaotic. People did flee. They were scared,” police Sgt. Robert Gomez said.

Surveillance video from a bar inside the mall captured more than a dozen people sprinting away from the sound of gunshots and, later, paramedics wheeling in a stretcher.

All four people shot were male, Pacillas said. Two of the injured were brought to the University Medical Center of El Paso in critical condition, the hospital told CNN. The third injured person was also hospitalized, Gomez said, but their condition is unknown.

The mall sits next to a Walmart where a shooting in 2019 killed 23 and left nearly two dozen more injured. Last week, the 24-year-old gunman pleaded guilty to 90 federal charges as part of a plea deal.

The Wednesday shooting is yet another example of gunfire shattering the sense of security many Americans once felt in public spaces, like shopping centers, grocery stores and schools.

So far this year, there have been more than 70 mass shootings across the United States, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Both CNN and the archive define a “mass shooting” as a shooting that injured or killed four or more people, not including the shooter.

Law enforcement agents walk in the parking lot of the shopping mall following the shooting.

Robert Gonzalez was at the mall Wednesday and during the 2019 shooting, he told CNN. He saw people “running to the exit” Wednesday, he said, and video he took inside the mall shows several storefronts had their security gates down. Outside, a second video shows police gathered at the entrance.

“I was working (at the mall) the last time this happened with the Walmart shooting so it just brought back bad memories,” Gonzalez said.

Investigators preliminarily believe the shooting occurred around the food court in the upper level of the mall, Gomez said.

Marie Hall had just clocked in for her shift at a salad shop in the food court when she heard gunshots ring out, she told CNN affiliate KFOX. She ran to the back of the restaurant and hid in a walk-in fridge with another employee and two customers, she said.

“Nothing prepares you for that,” she told the affiliate. “I didn’t really feel safe (going to work) in the beginning because of the shooting in 2019. … It is definitely going to be more difficult to be going in to work.”

An off-duty police officer who was working security in one of the mall’s stores was able to respond to the scene within three minutes and take a person into custody, Pacillas said. He did not say when, where or how the second person was apprehended.

Multiple law enforcement agencies, including El Paso police, the Texas Department of Public Safety and US Border Patrol, responded to the scene and worked into the night to clear the building and begin a preliminary investigation, police said.

The FBI, which is assisting with the investigation, has created a website for people to submit photos and video of the incident.

Even some community members who were not present during Wednesday’s shooting feel the event has reopened old wounds.

Albert Hernandez, whose sister Maribel and brother-in-law Leo Campos were killed in the 2019 shooting, told KFOX he feels political leaders are “not accepting the full scope of the situation” of gun violence and are “numb to what’s going on.”

“We felt the same feelings come back to us as the day of the Walmart shooting. Everything comes back and we’re just wondering, now what? How many people are going to get hurt?” Hernandez said.

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