Gunmen kill 29 people in two mass shootings less than 24 hours apart

Mourners take part in a vigil at El Paso High School after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso.
Mourners take part in a vigil at El Paso High School after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso.
Image: REUTERS/Jorge Salgado
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Another day, another mass shooting.

A gunman killed at least nine people and injured at least 16 more early Sunday morning in a neighborhood of Dayton, Ohio popular for nightlife. The shooting came less than 24 hours after another gunman shot and killed 20 people and injured 26 more at a Walmart in the southern border town of El Paso, Texas.

The shooting in Dayton marked the third mass shooting in a week, which is bad even for the United States. By one estimate, which defines a mass shooting as an attack that kills four or more people, there have been 32 so far this year. If you count the number of people shot rather than the number of people killed, however, there have been close to 300 mass shootings in the United States in 2019.

Police shot and killed the gunman in Dayton. His identity and motivation is not yet known.

Police managed to detain the gunman in El Paso. They said he is a white man in his 20s. A manifesto posted online, which police believe the shooter wrote, is a hate-filled anti-immigrant statement of some 2,300 words.

El Paso has a large population of Hispanics who have lived in the town for generations. It is also home to newer arrivals, large numbers of Central American asylum-seekers fleeing violence back home who are now largely the target of US president Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown. El Paso, in fact, is home to one of the country’s largest immigration detention centers.

An internal investigation by the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the El Paso facility, found earlier this year that the center was dangerously overcrowded. A single cell designed to hold 12 people, for example, was holding 76.

Congressional lawmakers visited El Paso in July, touring multiple immigrant detention centers. The visit brought nationwide attention to the treatment of migrants in US custody.

Halting the number of immigrants coming to the United States has been a primary focus of the Trump administration. The president campaigned on promises to build a wall and is now diverting billions from the Pentagon budget to pay for it. As a result, immigration reform is featuring prominently so far in the Democratic presidential primaries. Virtually all the candidates have weighed in on the subject, some more cogently than others.