A 30-year-old man led a murderous operation on Saturday, shooting at passers-by at random in the cities of Midland and Odessa.
Several people died and about 20 were wounded on Saturday, August 31, after a deadly attack in the cities of Odessa and Midland, in western Texas. A man ran around the two towns, shooting at people “at random”, reported local authorities.
The alleged perpetrator, a 30-year-old man known to the police, was shot dead outside an Odessa complex housing a cinema. The Odessa police chief reported 21 civilian “casualties” and five deaths. However, he did not specify whether the alleged suspect was one of the five deaths recorded, nor whether they were included in the count of the 21 victims. Three members of the security forces were also injured.
The shooting began at 3:25 p.m. (10:25 p.m. in Paris) when a patrol car tried to stop a vehicle on the I-20 highway between Odessa and the nearby city of Midland. But “the driver (…) pointed a gun at the rear window of his vehicle and fired several shots” at the police car, the Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement.
A police officer was wounded and the shooter managed to escape “while continuing to shoot innocent people”, shooting several cars with bullets. According to Odessa police, he then stole a postal service vehicle and continued his deadly expedition to the area’s shopping malls and cinemas, which were heavily frequented on this long weekend in the United States.
After hitting another vehicle at high speed, the suspect tried to escape the authorities, who eventually shot him in the parking lot of a movie theatre. Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said he was known to the police services, without giving any further details or commenting on his motives.
The authorities initially thought that the shooting was the work of two assailants driving two separate vehicles. Mr. Gerke, at a press conference held in the evening, said he believed that the alleged shooter had acted alone.
The arms debate
This umpteenth tragedy comes less than a month after the one in El Paso, about 500 km west of Odessa, in the same state. The shooting in this Mexican border town killed 22 people on August 3, mainly Hispanics. Police arrested a 21-year-old white male who said he had targeted Mexicans as a priority. After the tragedy, President Donald Trump was blamed for fuelling hatred towards immigrants. The shooting was followed a few hours later by another in Dayton, Ohio (north), where 9 people were killed.
The eternal debate on gun control had resumed and this new shooting in Texas made it one of the issues of the 2020 presidential campaign. “My heart is broken, I feel nauseous and angry. A few weeks after the horror in El Paso, another community in Texas was terrorized by gun violence. Enough. Enough. We must put an end to this epidemic,” former Vice President Joe Biden, who is well placed in the race for the Democratic primary, wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
After El Paso, Mr. Trump said he was in favour of “common sense” reforms on arms sales, while leaving room for doubt about his intentions and giving full support to the powerful pro-army lobby, the NRA.
The former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Julian Castro, another of the Democratic primary candidates, called on Saturday in the Republican-controlled Senate, “who refuses to move on gun control reform. “What is the number,” he asked. How many Americans are you going to sacrifice for the NRA? »