On Saturday, a 21-year-old white man from Allen, a suburb of Dallas, opened fire at an El Paso shopping center, killing 20 and injuring 26 people, according to CNN.
Law enforcement believes that the suspected shooter had posted a manifesto to an online message board before committing the heinous act. The document, rife with racist language, echoes far-right conspiracy theories about immigrants taking away American jobs.
According to Slate, the alleged shooter appears to be a Trump supporter.
Since the horrific event, President Trump has expressed condolences, calling the shooting an “act of cowardice,” and writing on Twitter that “there are no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing innocent people.”
According to Democratic presidential candidate and El Paso native, Beto O’Rourke, Trump’s rhetoric inspires acts of violence like the shopping center massacre.
O’Rourke, who had represented El Paso in Congress, returned to his home town following the shooting and told members of the media that Trump inspires white nationalist violence, Raw Story reports
A reporter asked O’Rourke whether Trump’s rhetoric — such as recent tweets aimed at congresspeople of color — inspires white nationalist violence, referencing the alleged shooter’s manifesto.
“Yes,” O’Rourke replied, proceeding to argue that the rise in violent hate crimes is a result of Trump’s rhetoric.
“We’ve had a rise in hate crimes every single one of the last three years during an administration where you have a president who’s called Mexican rapists and criminals, though Mexicans immigrants commit crimes at far lower rate than those born in this country,” he said.
“He is a racist and he stokes racism in this country. And it does not just offend our sensibilities, it fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence.”
The former congressman explained that he had heard from the El Paso police department that there are “strong indications” that the alleged shooter’s manifesto is indeed circulating online. He added that the document appears to have been inspired by racist and anti-immigrant sentiment.
“Folks, this did not happen by accident,” O’Rourke added, arguing once again that Trump’s rhetoric breeds acts of racist violence.
— The Hill (@thehill) August 4, 2019
As The Hill reported, other White House hopefuls also expressed condolences, issuing calls for gun control and aggressive action to end gun violence.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, as well as former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg all took to social media to share their thoughts about the tragic event.
The El Paso shooter is not the first mass shooter who appears to have been influenced by Trump’s rhetoric. As Yahoo News reported, Christchurch shootings suspect Brenton Tarrant referenced Trump in his own manifesto.