August 3, 2019 at 11:35 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
LGBT groups condemn Texas Walmart shooting
A mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3, 2019, has left at least 22 people dead and more than two dozen others injured. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

LGBT advocacy groups around the country on Saturday condemned a mass shooting at a Texas Walmart that has left 22 people dead and more than two dozen others injured.

The El Paso Times reported the 21-year-old gunman entered the Walmart near El Paso’s Cielo Vista Mall shortly before 10 a.m. local time (12 p.m. EST) and opened fire. The newspaper quoted El Paso Police Sgt. Robert Gomez who said upwards of 3,000 people were inside the store at the time of the shooting.

The gunman, who is from a Dallas suburb, reportedly wrote a 4-page manifesto that contains anti-immigrant and anti-Latino statements.

The Walmart in which the shooting took place is less than two miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in a message he posted to his Twitter page said Mexican citizens were among those killed.

“We are heartbroken over the innocent lives taken today,” said Human Rights Campaign Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof in a statement. “The horrific violence in El Paso has become all too common in our country.”

Lambda Legal, which had its Landmark Dinner tonight in Dallas, in a tweet acknowledged the shooting.

“We are only nine hours from El Paso, at our annual Landmark Dinner in Dallas,” said Lambda Legal in a tweet. “While we will be spending the next few hours talking about equality for LGBTQ people and everyone living with HIV, we will also recognize the pain our nation is feeling.”

Gina Ortiz Jones, a former U.S. Air Force captain who is running to represent Texas’ 23rd congressional district, which includes El Paso’s eastern suburbs, in a tweet said “the shooting in El Paso and its innocent victims remind us that we need leaders with the courage to keep our communities safe.”

“No one should live in fear that they’ll be gunned down,” she wrote. “Nothing will change until we elect those leaders.”

Grecia Herrera, director of an LGBTI migrant shelter in Ciudad Juárez run by Respetttrans Chihuahua, a local advocacy group, on Sunday told the Washington Blade there is “a lot of pain” in the city.

President Trump in a tweet described the shooting as “an act of cowardice” and added the White House has pledged “full support for El Paso shooting victims.” Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who represented El Paso until earlier this year, on Saturday cancelled his presidential campaign events and returned to his hometown.

HRC renews calls for gun control

The El Paso Walmart massacre is the latest in a series of mass shootings that have taken place in the U.S. in recent years.

A gunman on June 12, 2016, killed 49 people and left 50 others injured when he opened fire inside Pulse, an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Fla. The massacre was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history until a gunman killed 58 people and injured more than 500 others at a concert in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017.

A gunman on Feb. 14, 2018, killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. A gunman on Oct. 27, 2018, killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. A gunman on July 28 killed three people at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, Calif.

A gunman killed nine people in downtown Dayton, Ohio, less than 24 hours after the Walmart massacre.

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen at a press conference said the Walmart gunman’s manifesto may indicate a “nexus to a hate crime.” The Los Angeles Times reported a Twitter account that “appeared” to belong to the shooter contained tweets in which he praised Trump and his support of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump in February defended the wall during a rally he held at an El Paso arena that is a few blocks from the Bridge of the Americas over the Rio Grande that separates the city from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Trump also continues to face criticism over his racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric and his reluctance to overtly condemn white supremacists.

Winterhof in her statement also renewed HRC’s calls for gun control.

“After Newtown, our nation called for action. After Tucson, Virginia Tech, Aurora, San Bernardino, Charleston and Alexandria, we called for action. After the shooting at Pulse Nightclub more than two years ago, we called for action. After Parkland and Las Vegas, we called for action. It’s time for those who are inactive in Congress and the White House to act,” she said. “We need leadership now, not more victim-blaming and divisive rhetoric that could result in more senseless deaths. We must continue to demand action until all our lawmakers either hear us — or we have new lawmakers.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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