Police on the scene of a shooting in El Paso, Texas. (CNN)
EL PASO, Texas – Multiple people were killed in a shooting at a WalMart in El Paso, Texas on Saturday and three suspects were in custody after the latest United States mass shooting sent panicked shoppers fleeing.
El Paso Mayor Dee Margo said three people had been arrested by police, but could not immediately say whether all three were directly involved in the shooting.
“This is just a tragedy that I’m having a hard time getting my arms around,” Margo told CNN.
The El Paso Police Department said the scene remained active around the Cielo Vista Mall, near the WalMart, but said there was no imminent threat to the public.
“There’s no active shooter currently, but that isn’t to say we’ve rendered the scene safe at this time,” El Paso police spokesman Enrique Carrillo told reporters.
Carrillo said there were more than 20 casualties, a number that could include fatalities and people wounded.
WalMart said in a statement: “We’re in shock over the tragic events at Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, where store 2201 & club 6502 are located. We’re praying for the victims, the community & our associates, as well as the first responders. We’re working closely with law enforcement & will update as appropriate.”
Carrillo asked people who cannot reach loved ones to go to a family reunification centre at a local middle school, instead of heading to the shopping centre.
Multiple law enforcement agencies raced to the scene, including police, state troopers, Homeland Security agents and border patrol.
One witness said he saw at least one person inside the store with a fatal head wound, and he saw shoppers in bloodied clothes.
Other stores at the nearby mall were also locked down as police officers cleared the shopping centre in the east of the city, which lies on the southern U.S. border with Mexico.
Video posted on Twitter showed customers at one department store being evacuated with their hands up.
“Hands in the air!” an officer can be heard shouting in the footage.
Mass shootings are common in the United States. On Sunday, a teenage gunman opened fire with an assault-style rifle on the crowd at a food festival in Northern California, killing three people before fatally shooting himself.
The White House said President Donald Trump had been briefed on the shooting and was monitoring the situation.
At a Democratic presidential candidate forum in Las Vegas a clearly emotional Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman who is from El Paso, took to the stage to break the news to the audience that he had just heard about the deadly mass shooting in his home city.
O’Rourke said he had just spoken to his wife Amy, who was driving in the city with one of their children, and asked the audience to think about the people of El Paso. (Reuters)