A Texas grand jury on Thursday indicted a man accused of killing 22 people in an August shooting at Walmart in El Paso, Texas, who had told authorities he was targeting Mexicans, local media reported.
Patrick Crusius, 21, was indicted on capital murder charges, El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza said on Thursday, the El Paso Times reported. Prosecutors also said they will seek the death penalty.
Crusius is accused of driving from the Dallas area to El Paso on August 3 and firing at shoppers with a rifle inside a Walmart store, after which he surrendered to officers who confronted him outside the store.
Crusius confessed while surrendering and told police he was targeting “Mexicans”, according to an El Paso police affidavit released days after the shooting.
The Texas killings were followed just 13 hours later by another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, where a gunman in body armour and a mask killed nine people in less than a minute and wounded 27 others in the city’s downtown historic district before he was shot dead by police.
The shootings reverberated across the political arena on Sunday as Democratic presidential candidates called for stricter gun laws and accused President Donald Trump of stoking racial tensions.
Separately on Thursday, 100 chief executives of some of the country’s most well-known companies called on the US Senate to take action to tackle gun violence, including expanding background checks and strengthening so-called red flag laws, according to media reports.
In a letter to members of Congress, 145 company heads urged meaningful action following the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, as well as others in Odessa, Texas and Elkmont, Alabama, among other cities.
“Doing nothing about America’s gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety,” the letter to the Republican-led US Senate said, according to the New York Times, which first reported the correspondence.
Those signing the missive include the heads of Gap Inc, Levi Strauss & Co, and Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc.
They also included the CEOs of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, Uber Technologies Inc, Twitter Inc, and Amalgamated Bank, among others.
“We are writing to you because we have a responsibility and obligation to stand up for the safety of our employees, customers and all Americans in the communities we serve across the country,” they said, according to the Times. The Washington Post also reported the letter.
The House of Representatives, led by Democrats, quickly took up measures addressing gun violence as members of Congress returned to Washington, DC, this week. These include three bills that seek to remove guns from people deemed a risk, ban high-capacity ammunition magazines and prohibit people convicted of violent hate-crime misdemeanours from possessing firearms.
The Senate, led by Trump’s fellow Republicans, has so far stayed on the sidelines, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looking to the White House for guidance.
On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of US senators said they wanted to revive a failed 2013 bill to close loopholes in the law requiring gun sale background checks, but it remained unclear whether Trump would support it.
Polls have shown that nearly half of all Americans expect another mass shooting to happen soon in the US.