By Marcy Oster
(JTA) — At least 29 people and one shooter are dead in the wake of two mass shootings that took place over 13 hours in the United States.
Twenty people were killed and at least two dozen injured in a shooting on Saturday afternoon at a Walmart shopping center in El Paso Texas. In Dayton, Ohio, 9 people and the shooter were killed and 26 injured in a mass shooting attack shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday morning. The shooting took place on the outskirts of downtown Dayton’s Oregon District, a popular entertainment area.
“The Jewish Community of Greater El Paso is shocked and heartbroken that the irrational and devastating plague of violence sweeping this country has arrived at the door of our traditionally peaceful and congenial homes,” The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater El Paso said in a statement.
“Our hearts and our profound condolences go out to the families of those who have lost their lives and we pray for a quick recovery of those injured. We are alarmed by the increasing gun violence in the US and around the world. We commend our local, state and federal law enforcement for their reported quick and decisive response,” the statement also said.
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton in a statement called the news of the shooting in the city’s downtown “heartbreaking.” The statement also said: “As the investigation continues, we will keep you informed regarding what we as a community can do to help the families, friends, and loved ones of those killed and injured, and to help the city heal. Our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected by this morning’s events.”
Rabbi Rick Jacobs. president of the Union for Reform Judaism, was in El Paso last week with hundreds of faith leaders to protest the treatment of asylum seekers on the border with Mexico. “Now our hearts turn again to El Paso, in the face of this slaughter of innocents by a gunman who authorities say was inspired by anti-immigrant rhetoric,” he said in a statement. “It is not enough for elected officials to muster their ‘thoughts and prayers.’ Like millions of Americans I’m sick of the pathetic excuses offered by too many lawmakers for not passing strong and effective common sense gun laws.”
Jacobs concluded: “And if we are to call on the leaders of our nation to address this epidemic of hate, a goal that, hopefully, almost all Americans cherish, we must ask: When will this president stop demonizing asylum seekers and immigrants, which serves to embolden those like today’s shooter?”
“We need common sense gun control NOW,” the American Jewish Committee tweeted.
In a separate tweet, AJC CEO David Harris wrote: “As a nation, we need far more than “heartfelt thoughts & prayers” after #ElPasoTerrorAttack. The US faces an epidemic of mass shootings. We need concrete action, not a template reply. This is a nat’l emergency.
It can’t go on like this. Oh no, it just has. #Dayton”
The alleged El Paso shooter is in police custody and has been identified Patrick Crusius. He reportedly posted a manifesto on 8Chan, a conspiracy theory message board, in which he wrote disparagingly about Hispanic immigration to the United States and in support of the manifesto and actions of Chirstchurch mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant. Law enforcement officials reportedly were working to confirm that the manifesto was written by Crusius.
Later on Sunday, Crusius was charegd with capital murder, El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza said. Under Texas law, he could face the death penalty. The shooting is being investigated as domestic terrorism and a hate crime, CNN reported.
If the manifesto is proved to have been authored by Crusius, the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement, “this latest act of domestic terrorism will be, according to the ADL’s Center on Extremism’s records, the third deadliest act of violence by a domestic extremist in over 50 years and the second deadliest act of violence by a right-wing extremist in the same span, second only to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.”
The Dayton shooter, who was killed by police during the shooting, was identified late on Sunday morning by law enforcement as Connor Betts, 24, of Bellbrook, Ohio. He used a .223-caliber high-capacity magazine rifle in the attack. In addition, he was wearing body armor and mask covering his face, and had extra magazines for the rifle. One of the victims of his shooting attack included his sister, Megan Betts, 22.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his condolences. “In the past 24 hours, we have witnessed two murderous attacks in Texas and Ohio. On behalf of all government ministers and all citizens of Israel, I send condolences to the bereaved families, best wishes for recovery to the injured, and solidarity with the American people,” he said in the tweet.
Please comment with any thoughts/prayers, or let us know if you know any of the victims/people directly impacted.