Prosecutors to seek death penalty over Texas shooting

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El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza on Sunday said his office was pursuing capital murder charges against the suspect in a Walmart massacre that left 20 people dead, and said he would seek the death penalty.
A man places flowers at a makeshift memorial outside the Cielo Vista Mall Walmart where a shooting left 20 people dead in El Paso, Texas, on Aug 4, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

EL PASO (AFP) - Prosecutors are to seek the death penalty for the gunman behind a mass shooting at a Walmart store in Texas that killed 20 people, the local district attorney said Sunday (Aug 4).

"I can tell you from the outset, the state charge is capital murder and so he is eligible for the death penalty," state District Attorney Jaime Esparza told a press conference.

"We will seek the death penalty."

Local police are working alongside federal investigators after Saturday's shooting in the border town of El Paso which was carried out by a gunman who has been widely identified in the media as a 21-year-old white man from the Allen area near Dallas.

John Bash, the US attorney for the Western District of Texas, who works under the authority of the federal government's Attorney General Bill Barr, said that the shooting was being considered as "a domestic terrorism" case.

"I have been in close consultation with Attorney General Barr," he told the same press conference.

"We are conducting a methodical investigation with our partners, a careful investigation but with a view toward bringing federal hate crimes charges... and federal firearms charges which carry a penalty of death.

"We are seriously considering those charges, we are going to conduct a methodical and careful investigation with a few towards those charges.

"We are also treating this as a domestic terrorist case - there's a statutory definition of domestic terrorism... this meets it. It appears to be designed to identify a civilian population to say the least.

"We are treating it as domestic terrorism case, and we will do what we do in terrorists in this country, which is to deliver swift and certain justice."

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