Law enforcement officials said that an off-duty police officer took down the suspect who fatally shot one person and wounded three others at a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday, potentially preventing the gunman from taking more lives.
El Paso Police Chief Peter Pacillas said at a Feb. 15 press conference that the gunman who fired multiple rounds striking at least four people at around 5:05 p.m. at the Cielo Vista Mall food court was taken down quickly by an off-duty cop.
The officer, who was not identified, managed to take down the suspected gunman without firing a single shot, Pacillas said, adding that it’s unclear if the suspect fired at the officer.
Asked by reporters how quickly after the off-duty cop arrived on the scene was he able to take down the suspect, Pacillas replied: “As soon as he got there.”
“That officer immediately took one individual into custody,” Pacillas said, noting that the off-duty cop was “working at a local establishment within the mall” and got to the scene at 5:08 p.m., three minutes after gunfire erupted.
Pacillas added that investigators were still determining the details of incident when asked if he knew how many shots the gunman had fired.
Officer ‘Did the Job’
El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser, who was also present at the press conference, praised the off-duty officer’s actions, saying he “did the job and the job that he’s trained to do day in and day out,” potentially preventing a bigger tragedy.
One person was killed and three others were injured in the shooting.
Two men were taken into custody in connection with the incident, though Pacillas declined to provide more details citing the active investigation.
Asked if the shooting was gang-related, Pacillas said it’s unclear, adding that the Crimes Against Persons unit is leading the investigation, not the department’s gang unit.
The Cielo Vista Mall, where the shooting took place, was being treated as a crime scene and will remain on lockdown until the police have completed their investigation, Pacillas said, adding that there was no further danger to the public.
“There is no more danger. I want to repeat that: There is no more danger to the public,” Pacillas said.
Pacillas said the victims of the shooting were all males and two are currently being treated at the University Medical Center in El Paso and are in critical condition. The condition of the third victim is unknown.
Sgt. Robert Gomez, a public information officer with the El Paso Police Department, said 911 calls started coming in shortly after 5 p.m. about the active shooter.
Pacillas said that, in addition to the off-duty cop, officers from multiple departments, including the El Paso Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), U.S. Border Patrol, and the local FBI responded to the “dynamic scene” at the mall and “quickly brought it under control.”
Footage from the scene shared on social media showed the moment when customers inside the mall’s food court began to flee as gunfire was heard.
One video, captured on a vendor’s surveillance camera, later showed police holding rifles moving in pursuit of the shooters, and first responders carrying a victim out on a stretcher.
Responding to the shooting, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott thanked law enforcement and first responders, and offered support to El Paso.
“I spoke to Mayor Leeser about the shooting tonight in El Paso,” Abbott said on Twitter. “I offered the full support of the State of Texas, including the assistance of the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Division of Emergency Management to help the city of El Paso respond to this tragic event.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also thanked the first responders for their swift action.
“My team and I are closely monitoring the horrific act of violence at the Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso,” Cruz said on Twitter. “Heidi and I are praying for the victims and we are grateful for the first responders who acted swiftly to capture a suspect and keep our fellow Texans safe.”
The Cielo Vista Mall was nearby to the location of a 2019 mass shooting that left 23 dead at a Walmart.
Caden Pearson contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times