The El Paso shooter told a detective after his arrest on Saturday that he was targeting Mexicans when he opened fire at a Walmart.
The shooter, who surrendered to police, revealed this during an interrogation at El Paso police headquarters, after waiving his Miranda rights, according to a court affidavit obtained by the New York Times.
The news affirms suspicions that shooter drove more than 10 hours to the store, located near the Mexican border, specifically to find and kill Latinx people. Officials believe he was the person who wrote a racist, xenophobic manifesto posted online minutes before the massacre, in which he warned about a “Hispanic invasion” of Texas.
On Monday, a relative of one of the victims told the El Paso Times that the shooter was mainly looking for Hispanic shoppers to gun down. Chris Grant, 50, was shopping for groceries at Walmart, his family said, when he saw the gunman target Latinx shoppers while letting white and black shoppers leave the store.
“He stated that the shooter was targeting Mexicans and was passing whites, African Americans,” Grant’s ex-wife Laura Hromatka told the newspaper.
Grant told CNN that the memory of people kneeling and praying for mercy in Spanish before they were executed still haunts him.
“They were on the ground, and he still just shot them in the head,” Grant told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “They were praying, ‘Please! Please! Don’t shoot me.’ And he had no remorse for their lives at all.”
Grant, who is black, said he started throwing soda bottles to distract the shooter when he was shot.
While Grant survived the massacre, 22 other Walmart shoppers did not. Officials have not identified all the dead yet, but the New York Times published a list of some of the victims and their backgrounds. Thirteen were US citizens, eight were Mexican citizens and one was German.
The released affidavit comes as federal investigators are still considering filing hate crime charges against the shooter. Officials believe he posted a racist, xenophobic manifesto online, in which he warned about a “Hispanic invasion” of Texas. They are also investigating the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism. Meanwhile, the deaths of Mexican citizens have led Mexican officials to demand protections for citizens and Mexican Americans in the US.
El Paso is 83 percent Hispanic, and the Walmart that the shooter targeted is in a heavily Mexican American neighborhood. The store is also known for its large Mexican client base. It’s the closest US Walmart to downtown Juarez, Mexico, and Mexicans cross the border on weekends to get good deals on clothing and electronics. On the day of the shooting, many parents were at the store, with their kids, for back-to-school shopping.
President Donald Trump responded to the El Paso shooting, along with an unrelated shooting in Dayton, Ohio, in a brief speech on Monday. He mostly pointed to cultural issues and mental illness, although he did throw in support for a red flag law that could let police or courts seize guns from dangerous people. He said nothing about widespread criticism of his own anti-immigrant rhetoric, which some say inspired the El Paso attacks.