At least 29 people died and dozens were wounded in two mass shootings within just 13 hours of each other over the weekend.
The first occurred on Saturday morning in the heavily Hispanic border city of El Paso, where a gunman killed 20 people at a Walmart before surrendering to police.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the rampage appeared to be a hate crime, and police cited a “manifesto” they attributed to the suspect, a 21-year-old white man, as evidence that the bloodshed was racially motivated.
Multiple news media outlets, citing law enforcement officials, named him as Patrick Crusius.
Across the country, a gunman opened fire in a downtown district of Dayton, Ohio, early on Sunday, killing nine people and wounding at least 26 others, police and the city mayor said.
The assailant was shot dead by police.
Assistant Police Chief Matt Carper named the gunman as Connor Betts, a 24-year-old white male from Bellbrook, Ohio, and said his sister Megan Betts, 22, was among those killed.
“Hate has no place in our country,” President Donald Trump said, speaking to reporters on Sunday in Morristown, N.J.
The El Paso shooting reverberated on the campaign trail for next year’s presidential election, with several Democratic candidates denouncing the rise of gun violence and repeating calls for tighter gun control measures.
At least two candidates, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and El Paso native Beto O’Rourke, a former congressman, drew connections to a resurgence in white nationalism and xenophobic politics in the United States.
“America is under attack from homegrown white nationalist terrorism,” Buttigieg said at an event in Las Vegas.
Trump branded the shooting “an act of cowardice,” saying in a Twitter post.
“I know that I stand with everyone in this country to condemn today’s hateful act. There are no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing innocent people.”
Pope Francis condemned the spate of attacks on “defenseless people” in the United States, including a rampage last Sunday in which a gunman killed three people and wounded about a dozen at a garlic festival in Gilroy, Calif.
In Texas, police and FBI investigators searched for clues as to what motivated Crusius, who is from Allen, Texas, a Dallas suburb some 650 miles east of El Paso, which lies on the Rio Grande across the U.S.-Mexico border from Ciudad Juarez.
Police said Crusius opened fire with a rifle on shoppers, many of them bargain-hunting for back-to-school supplies, then surrendered to officers who confronted him outside the store.
El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said investigators were examining a “manifesto” from Crusius indicating “there is a potential nexus to a hate crime.”
CNN reported the FBI had opened a domestic terrorism investigation.
“We are going to aggressively prosecute it both as capital murder but also as a hate crime, which is exactly what it appears to be,” Texas Gov. Abbott told reporters.
Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said three Mexican nationals were among the 20 people killed in the shooting, and six others were among 26 victims who were wounded.
The carnage ranked as the eighth-deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, after a 1984 shooting in San Ysidro, Calif., in which 21 people died.
Rapid police action
In Dayton, a gunman dressed in body armor opened fire in a downtown district.
Officers who were on routine patrol nearby were on the scene in less than a minute and shot Connor Betts dead, likely preventing a much higher casualty toll, police and the city’s mayor said.
Assistant Police Chief Matt Carper said the shooting began outside Ned Peppers Bar at 1 a.m. in Dayton’s Oregon District.
The area is a downtown historic neighborhood popular for its nightclubs, restaurants, art galleries and shops.
The motive was not immediately clear, and investigators believe Betts had acted alone, Carper said.
A total of nine people were killed, including Betts.
Twenty-six others were injured and taken to hospitals across the area, Mayor Nan Whaley told reporters.
She said the suspect was armed with a rifle firing .223-caliber rounds with high-capacity ammunition magazines.
FBI agents were assisting in the investigation.