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El Paso Mass Shooting That Killed 20 Is Being Investigated As Possible Hate Crime

A mass shooting at an El Paso, Texas, shopping center that left 20 people dead and another 26 injured is currently being investigated as a possible hate crime after authorities discovered a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto believed to belong to the gunman, CNN reported.

The shooting, which is considered to be the eighth deadliest in the country's history, began just after 10:30 a.m. at a Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall.

The gunman, who has been identified as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, entered the shopping center armed with an AK-47.

Plano High School

Police have estimated that there were approximately 3,000 shoppers and about 100 employees inside the store at the time, most of whom were readying for back to school season.

Crusius opened fire inside the location, and eyewitnesses described hearing sounds akin to balloons popping before actually seeing the shooter.

Kianna Long, who was shopping at the Walmart with her husband, said people were running for their lives.

“People were panicking and running, saying that there was a shooter," she told Reuters. "They were running close to the floor, people were dropping on the floor."

The couple ran to the stockroom where they hid with other customers inside a steel shipping container.

Security footage from the shooting has since been released and shows the gunman entering the Walmart.

Crusius can be seen walking into the store with an assault-style rifle, wearing a black tee shirt and khaki shorts with what appears to be either headphones or some type of ear-protection over his ears.

Police arrived on the scene six minutes after the first 911 call was placed from someone inside the Walmart.

Crusius reportedly surrendered without incident to authorities who promptly arrested him and took him into custody. Although local law enforcement received initial reports of multiple shooters, they have confirmed there was only one gunman acting alone in the attack.

Twenty people were fatally shot during the massacre with another 26 wounded.

President Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to condemn the attack as having been an "act of cowardice."

President Trump has reportedly spoken with Attorney General William Barr and Texas Governor Abbott, as well as pledged the federal government’s support.

In response to the attack, Barr said, “Those who commit such atrocities should be held accountable swiftly and to the fullest extent the law allows.”

The discovery of a passionately racist manifesto has led authorities to open an investigation into the massacre being a hate crime.

Facebook | Patrick Crusius

The four-page statement, which was posted on the online messaging board 8chan just 20 minutes prior to the attack, is believed to have been authored by the shooter.

It outlines a dark vision of America in which Hispanic immigrant populations have outnumbered those of Caucasian Americans, blaming those immigrants and first-generation Americans for taking away jobs from the rest of the country.

Authorities are still investigating the shooter's connection to the white nationalist-themed screed.

El Paso Times | Aaron Montes

The document was attached to a post titled, "I'm going to die today."

While it has yet be to be confirmed that Crusius is behind the manifesto, Gov. Abbott branded the attack a "hate crime" during a press conference on Saturday night. The FBI has also reportedly opened a domestic terrorism investigation into the massacre.

El Paso County, which sits directly opposite the US-Mexico border, is more than 80 percent Latino.

Tens of thousands of Mexican citizens reportedly legally cross the border each day to work and shop in the city, considered to be one of the largest and safest cities in the country.

It has also been at the center of the Trump administration's anti-immigrant policies, a city which Representative Cesar Blanco once dubbed to be "ground zero" for Trump's family separations policy.

h/t: CNN, Reuters