Southern California officials expressed grief and outrage in response to mass shootings that occurred less than 13 hours apart this weekend.
“Hours after the tragedy in El Paso, we’re now faced with another horrific mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio,” the Los Angeles Police Department tweeted on Sunday morning. “We cannot become numb to this senseless gun violence.”
In an El Paso Walmart on Saturday, 20 people were killed and 26 injured before police took a suspect into custody, a 21-year-old man from the Dallas area identified as Patrick Crusius.
On Sunday, nine people were killed and at least 27 injured at a downtown nightlife area in Dayton, Ohio, before the gunman was fatally shot by police.
The shootings have once again sparked grief-ridden conversations about ubiquitous gun violence in the U.S., its cause and how it might be stopped. Many critics have blamed President Trump and Republican Congress members for hampering progress on passing stricter gun safety measures.
Federal prosecutors are investigating the El Paso shooting as a hate crime and an act of domestic terrorism and plan to seek the death penalty, said John Bash, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas.
In a tweet on Sunday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva characterized both shootings as acts of domestic terrorism.
“Spare me the ‘now is not the time’ lecture — at the current pace there never will be time to prevent the next one,” Villanueva wrote.
In a second tweet, the sheriff added: “It’s time to end the manufacture and sale of semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines, period.”
Both shootings were carried out with large-capacity or assault-type weapons, prompting Democratic politicians to once again call for federal gun-control legislation.
On Sunday night, activists with Brady Orange County organized a rally to “hold Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accountable for blocking bipartisan gun bills in the Senate,” according to a press release.
In a string of tweets, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) said President Trump’s “race-baiting” rhetoric was a motivating factor in the El Paso shooting. Authorities have tentatively linked Crusius to a manifesto posted online shortly before the shooting that railed against an “invasion” of Latino migrants.
The El Paso white nationalist terrorist attacked a community w/ a large Mexican & immigrant population. The El Paso terrorist said in his manifesto Hispanics "race mix" & that this is another reason to "send them back." Did his words, "send them back," sound familiar to anyone?— Maxine Waters (@RepMaxineWaters) August 4, 2019
“America, when are you going to demand action on guns?, " Waters tweeted. “Another senseless mass killing by a young white nationalist. Trump, you cannot escape accepting blame for these escalating killings in our country that are motivated by your race baiting!”
President Trump ordered all U.S. flags flown at half-staff at public buildings through Thursday.
“We condemn these hateful and cowardly acts,” Trump said in a statement Sunday. “Through our grief, America stands united with the people of El Paso and Dayton. May God be with the victims of these two horrific crimes and bring aid and comfort to their families and friends.”
Local law enforcement agencies urged community members to remain vigilant. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department tweeted a link to a video on how to survive an active shooter situation, and the Long Beach Police Department assured residents that it would provide extra patrol officers in “high-population areas citywide” on Sunday.