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Weekend Mass Shooting to be Treated as Domestic Terrorism

As of 4 August 2019, there have been 251 mass shootings in the United States in 2019, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tracks incidents in which at least four people—excluding the assailant—were shot. Over the past two weeks, more than 100 people have been shot in U.S. mass shootings.

The latest two attacks occurred over the weekend, with nine people killed in a historic entertainment district of Dayton, Ohio, and 20 killed at a busy Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

The assailant in the Dayton attack died during the shooting, and his motive is unclear. Uniformed officers on routine patrol in the entertainment district responded promptly, shooting and killing the assailant within one minute of his first gunshots, said Dalton Mayor Nan Whaley.

The alleged assailant in the El Paso attack had posted a manifesto online about a “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” railing against immigrants. Federal investigators said they are treating the shooting—which wounded a further 27 people—as an act of domestic terrorism, meaning the suspect was allegedly intent on “coercing and intimidating a civilian population.” Prosecutors said they are considering federal hate crime charges and federal gun charges.

The Walmart had been at capacity, with more than 100 employees and between 1,000 and 3,000 shoppers in the store—​many of whom were Mexican nationals who crossed the border to shop—at the time of the attack.​ A 21-year-old suspect is in custody, and he told investigators that he had wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible, law enforcement officers told ABC News

A recent article in Security Management covered the rise of far-right extremist violence, noting that right-wing terrorists killed at least 40 people in the United States and Canada in 2018—up from 17 in 2017, according to a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

For more resources on active assailant preparedness, visit the ASIS International resource page on this topic here. A July 2019 Security Management article focuses on retail preparedness and response for active assailant incidents.

In addition, the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (DHS CISA) issued a resource guide earlier this year for securing soft targets and crowded places.

“We have resources that citizens can use today to help mitigate threats from an active shooter,” wrote CISA Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security Brian Harrell in an email to media yesterday. “At CISA, we have developed assessments, exercises, and training that helps stakeholders understand the ‘pathways to violence,’ behavioral indicators, and security mitigation measures to reduce risk.”​