EL PASO — Mexico’s top diplomat reiterated Monday that he considers Saturday’s mass shooting in El Paso to be an act of terrorism against Mexican citizens and said his government will be participating in the investigation.
The foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said eight citizens of Mexico were among the 22 shot and killed. He added that six are still in area hospitals.
“We consider this to be an act of terrorism,” he said during a press conference at the Mexican Consulate General’s office in El Paso. “In this case, it was carried out in the United States, but it was terrorism against Mexican citizens.”
Ebrard said he will be sharing police reports provided to him by local authorities with Mexican Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero as the government moves forward with its investigation.
Ebrard also visited some of the wounded Monday and met with local officials to discuss sending the victims’ bodies back to Mexico as soon as possible.
The alleged shooter, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius of Allen, north of Dallas, allegedly posted an anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic manifesto before the shooting spree.
The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas are considering possible federal hate crime and domestic terrorism charges. Those would be in addition to the state-level capital murder charge the district attorney’s office has levied against the shooter.
According to Ebrard’s Twitter feed, the eight Mexican fatalities include people from the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Zacatecas, Coahuila and Aguascalientes.
Mexican officials have complained for years about what they consider lax U.S. gun laws, especially as they relate to violent crime in Mexico when weapons purchased in the United States are smuggled south of the Rio Grande. Although Saturday’s shooting occurred in the United States, the fact that eight Mexicans died has already reignited Mexico’s criticism. Ebrard said his office is pursuing action against “the sale and distribution of arms like the assault weapon that ended the lives of the eight Mexicans and, as of now, 14 [Americans],” he said in Spanish.
Immediately afterward, he said in English, “[We are] analyzing, but we are definitely going to do it.”
Ebrard concluded his press conference by offering the government’s condolences to El Paso and the United States.
“We are friends of the people of the United States; this is a binational community, El Paso and Ciudad Juarez,” he said. “We are different cultures, but we need to live and respect each other, in Mexico and in the United States.”