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Mass shooting leaves at least 20 dead, dozens injured in El Paso, police say

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(EL PASO, TX) — Twenty people were killed and dozens more injured on Saturday morning in a massacre at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart packed with back-to-school shoppers, making it one of the ten deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, officials said.

The wounded ranged in age from a 2-year-old child to an 82-year-old victim.

The suspect was identified by authorities as Patrick Crusius, 21, of Allen, Texas.

He was “taken into custody without incident” and without any law enforcement officers firing their weapons, according to El Paso Police Department Sgt. Robert Gomez. The alleged shooter’s motives remains unknown, Gomez said.

Police initially said that there may have been “multiple shooters,” but Gomez later clarified that arrested just one person.

“At this time, we do have one person in custody. We don’t believe there’s anybody outstanding,” he said.

At a news conference on Saturday night, El Paso police Chief Greg Allen said that 20 people had died and 26 more had been injured — making the El Paso massacre one of the top ten deadliest shootings in U.S. history.

Allen said that law enforcement officials were reviewing a manifesto posted by the alleged shooter and that the massacre was being investigated as a possible hate crime.

The majority of the victims were shot inside the Walmart, according to Gomez, which at the time contained more than 100 employees and what authorities have preliminarily estimated to be between 1,000 and 3,000 Saturday morning back-to-school shoppers.

A spokesperson for El Paso’s Del Sol Medical Center said that 11 victims ranging in age from 35 to 82 were being treated at the facility. University Medical Center of El Paso received an additional 13 victims — two of whom were children, ages 2 and 9, who were stabilized and transferred to El Paso Children’s Hospital, according to officials. A hospital spokesperson said that nine patients were in critical condition and three had life-threatening injuries.

At 2 p.m. local time, the El Paso Police Department issued a tweet making an urgent request for blood donations, and directing local residents to two facilities run by Vitalent Blood Services where they could donate blood. Within three hours, photos posted to social media showed lines stretching around the block at locations accepting local blood donors.

‘On a mission’

Allen, the police chief, said the first 911 call came in at 10:39 a.m. local time, and that emergency responders were on the scene at 10:45.

The shooting began in the parking lot outside the Walmart, according to an eyewitness who said she heard gunshots as she drove through the parking lot with her mother.

Shopper Vanessa Saenz described the shooter in an interview with ABC News Radio as dressed in cargo pants and a black t-shirt, wearing ear protectors and said he looked like he was “dancing.”

Moments later, Saenz saw a woman a few feet away fall to the ground.

She then described seeing victims near the shooter who became cornered — with nowhere to run — and then watched the gunman raise a rifle, aim it at them and start firing.

“One thing I’ever never forget is when he walked into Walmart very confidently, like he was on a mission,” she later told ABC News anchor Tom Llamas in an interview for “World News Tonight.”

At 12:11 p.m. local time, the El Paso Police Department had issued a tweet that said in part, “We have multi reports of multiple shooters.”

Area residents were urged by local law enforcement to avoid the area north of the I-10 highway area in east El Paso.

The Walmart is located at the Cielo Vista Mall, one of the city’s most popular malls, particularly among Mexican tourists who cross the U.S. border to shop there before returning to Mexico.

Walmart issued a statement about the shooting on the retailer’s Twitter account.

“We’re in shock over the tragic events at Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso,” the statement said. “We’re praying for the victims, the community & our associates, as well as the first responders. We’re working closely with law enforcement & will update as appropriate.”

A spokesperson for El Paso’s Del Sol Medical Center said that 11 victims ranging in age from 35 to 82 were being treated at the facility. Unversity Medical Center of El Paso received an additional 13 victims — two of whom were children, ages 2 and 9, who were stabilized and transferred to El Paso Children’s Hospital, according to officials.

At 11:35 a.m local time, the Dallas office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued a tweet saying ATF agents were responding as well.

By 2 p.m. local time, the El Paso Police Department had issued a tweet making an urgent request for blood donations, and directing local residents to two facilities run by Vitalent Blood Services where they could donate blood.

At 11:35 a.m local time, the Dallas office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued a tweet saying ATF agents were responding as well.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a tweet that the state’s Department of Public Safety was responding to assist “local law enforcement & federal authorities to bring this tragedy to the swiftest and safest possible conclusion.”

Rep. Veronica Escobar, who represents Texas’s 16th Congressional District, tweeted that she is “utterly heartbroken by the developing news in El Paso.”

President Donald Trump has been briefed on the shooting and is monitoring the situation, according to White House Deputy Press Secretary Steven Groves.

In a tweet, the president said he had spoken with Gov. Abbott and pledged “total support of Federal Government,” before ending the message ‘God be with you all!’

Democratic presidential candidate and fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke told reporters he was in communication with local officials and was flying back home from an event in Nevada.

“I just ask for everyone’s strength for El Paso right now, everyone’s resolve to make sure that this does not continue to happen in this country,” he said. “But I’ll tell you, El Paso is the strongest place in the world.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

All unaccompanied children removed from Homestead migrant detention facility: HHS

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Gwengoat/iStock(NEW YORK) — All unaccompanied minors who had been placed at Florida’s Homestead facility have been moved out of the migrant center, Health and Human Services said on Saturday.

“As such, today we are announcing that all UAC sheltered in the Homestead facility have either been reunified with an appropriate sponsor or transferred to a state-licensed facility within the ORR network of care providers as of August 3, 2019,” the statement said.

The children will be sent to other in-state facilities, HHS said.

The Trump administration stopped placing children at the shelter in July. Since March 2018, when the facility was activated, approximately 14,300 unaccompanied minors had been sheltered at Homestead, according to HHS.

ABC News reported in July that government officials said the demand for beds at the shelter had declined.

Florida Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, an outspoken critic of Homestead, lauded the move to shut down the facility.

“From reducing the number of children held at Homestead to forcing the Administration to produce a hurricane plan, I’m glad that our community’s persistent advocacy brought about real results,” she said in a statement. “However, I still have many questions about where these children are being sent to and the conditions they’ll be kept in. They shouldn’t be sent to another detention facility — they must be reunited with family or placed with a sponsor. I’ll continue holding the Trump Administration accountable for their corruption and mistreatment of these vulnerable children.”

HHS on Saturday said it still planned to “retain but reduce bed capacity” at Homestead, saying that it would decrease the number of beds from 2,700 to 1,200 “for future access in the event of increased referrals or an emergency situation.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

4-year-old who 'disappeared' from grandmother's porch found dead; was 'never missing'

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Baltimore Police Department(BALTIMORE) — The body of a 4-year-old Baltimore boy who was reported missing on Thursday been has been recovered from a dumpster, after authorities said on Saturday that his mother confessed that he “was not missing, but deceased.”

Malachi Lawson was reported to have disappeared from his grandmother’s house on Thursday in northwest Baltimore.

“Last night after extensive interviewes with Malachi’s mother … she confessed that her son was not missing, but deceased,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said at a press conference Saturday afternoon. “She subsquently gave detectives the location of the child’s remains.”

Lawson’s biological mother and her partner were arrested and will be charged with neglect that resulted in the death of a minor, Harrison said, noting that more charges could be added after the completion of an autopsy.

The boy’s body was found in a dumpster near his grandmother’s home, according to authorities, who said there were “obvious signs of injury” but would not elaborate on the type of wounds the child had sustained.

The search for Lawson had escalated quickly. On Friday, the FBI joined local agencies searching for the boy and Baltimore Police had pleaded with the public to share information as recently as Friday evening.

Police believe the child was killed on Thursday, when he was reported missing. When Lawson’s mother reported him missing, she told police he was last seen wearing a white tank top, khaki shorts and black flip flops. On Saturday, police declined to answer whether his body had been found fully-clothed.

The child’s had been described by investigators searching for him as having braided hair and he walked with a limp due a broken femur he sustained as an infant, police said.

About 100 volunteers, many from the Baltimore Shomrim Safety Patrol, joined the search for Lawson on Friday morning.

“A lot of us are fathers,” said Heshie Klein, vice president of Operations for the Shomrim Safety Patrol, told Baltimore ABC affiliate WMAR-TV. “A lot of us are grandfathers and you have a 4-year-old child missing, defenseless. It struck a nerve.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

New York woman drowns in paddleboarding accident

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — A New York woman drowned while paddleboarding in Long Island on Friday, police said.

Lisa Margaritis, 49, was an experienced paddleboarder but drowned trying to help another woman caught in the strong current, Southold Police chief Martin Flatley said in a statement.

Margaritis and two other women were part of a paddleboard fitness class near Hashamomuck Pond in eastern Long Island when one “found herself in trouble in the strong current,” police said.

Margaritis tried to help the struggling woman but “while trying to negotiate the strong current, the paddle board that Margaitis was on got stuck on a bridge piling and Margaritis fell into water,” police said.

Margaitis, a registered nurse, found herself “tethered to the board and was unable to free herself,” police said.

A Good Samaritan jogging by jumped into the water and freed Margaritis from the bridge piling and brought her to shore, where rescue teams performed CPR. She was was transported to Eastern Long Island Hospital, where she died, police said.

Margaritis’ mother, Jean Weber, told Newsday she was “devastated” over her daughter’s death, but wasn’t surprised she died trying to save someone else.

“She was a hero in my eyes,” Weber said. “She wanted to save somebody else. She was always kind.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

FBI joins search for 4-year-old boy who disappeared from grandmother's porch in Baltimore

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Baltimore Police Department(BALTIMORE) —  The desperate search for a missing 4-year-old in Baltimore expanded to include the FBI on Friday, one day after the boy disappeared from his grandmother’s porch.

Malachi Lawson was last seen at his grandmother’s house on Thursday on the 4500 block of Rogers Avenue in northwest Baltimore. He was with his mother when the boy wandered off the porch, but police said they were still investigating exactly how he managed to go missing.

The FBI joined local agencies searching for the boy on Friday.

“We are utilizing all of the resources that are available to us, through all state and federal and local law enforcement organizations,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said at a press conference Friday evening. “We’re leveraging all of those resources and relationships to try to locate Malachi and bring him home.”

Lawson was last seen wearing a white tank top, khaki shorts and black flip flops. The boy also walks with a limp due a broken leg when he was an infant, police said.

“It is very important that we get any information and as much information as we can possibly get to ensure that we locate Malachi and return him home to his family, and we’re asking for the community’s help, however slight information,” Harrison said.

Authorities said his mother “did not wait very long at all” to report him missing.

Police said they have not come up with any leads, but were using bloodhounds to search the area, which is near the Arlington Cemetery of Chizuk.

An Amber Alert was not issued because “it did not meet all of the criteria protocols,” Harrison said, but he encouraged people to take the warning just as seriously.

Police said they are looking at public and private surveillance video in the area of the boy’s disappearance, and encourage anyone in the area to share video.

About 100 volunteers, many from the Baltimore Shomrim Safety Patrol, joined the search for Lawson on Friday morning.

“A lot of us are fathers. A lot of us are grandfathers and you have a 4-year-old child missing, defenseless. It struck a nerve,” said Heshie Klein, vice president of Operations for the Shomrim Safety Patrol, told Baltimore ABC affiliate WMAR.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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