Three Days, Three Shootings, Hundreds Affected
During the week of July 28 to August 4, 2019, there were three mass shootings in the United States. These shootings took place in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, leaving 34 people dead and dozens injured. People were going about their normal days before everything changed for them. After the tragedy that happened in Ohio, it marked the 251st mass shooting in 215 days. At the time, there were more shootings than days in the year. With this in mind, people begged for change from Washington and questioned how many more people need to get hurt before they take action.
Gilroy, California held their annual Gilroy Garlic Festival the weekend of July 26-28, bringing in thousands of people. On that Sunday, July 28th, Santino William Legan snuck through a back fence of the festival and began to randomly shoot with a AK-47 assault-type rifle he bought from Nevada. The gunman killed three people including 6-year-old Stephen Romero, 13-year-old Keyla Salazar, and 25-year-old Trevor Irby. He left nine others wounded. Police responded quickly, shooting Legan three times, before he shot and killed himself. While searching Legan’s digital files, the FBI found a potential hit list containing religious, political, and government organizations. On his Instagram, made days before his attack, he had a photo of people walking around the festival. This crime is being investigated as domestic terrorism. The FBI Agents Associations tells ABC News, “domestic terrorism is a threat to the American people and our democracy.”
Five days later on August 3rd, over 1,000 shoppers and 100 employees ran for their lives in ElPaso's local Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall, after a gunman open fired. The 21-year-old shooter, Patrick Crusius, was wearing dark clothing and hearing protection and also used an AK-47 style assault rifle. He began shooting outside then made his way inside, specifically targeting Hispanics. The open fire lasted six minutes before police arrived to the scene and Crusius gave up without a fight. However, in that time frame, he had already murdered 20 people and harmed 26. Days later, two of the wounded died. Crusius was taken into police custody and is being charged with capital murder and a possible death penalty. According to Intelligencer Crusius told investigators, “he wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as he could.” He had also published a four-page essay, days before the attack, about his white-nationalist and and anti-immigrant views.
On a crowded street in Dayton, Ohio, a 24 year-old gunman, Connor Betts, had an AR-15 style assault rifle and a 100 round drum magazine. The attack lasted only 32 seconds and left nine people dead and 27 wounded. One of the nine people included his sister, Megan, who may have been his main target. Forty-one shell casings were found from Betts’ firing. Six police officers got to the area quickly and shot and killed Betts as he tried to enter a packed bar. Police fired 65 times. Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl told CNN that Betts, “had an obsession with violence and mass shootings and had expressed a desire to commit a mass shooting.” One of his classmates also said that Betts had a hit list while he was in high school. The Dayton, Ohio shooting, like Gilroy, is being investigated as domestic terrorism.
After that week, Americans were left scared and unsure of their safety. People who lived near the area of the mass shootings were nervous to venture far from their home or work. The citizens of the towns are mourning, with the rest of the nation, and pointing fingers at people who may not deserve it. Mayor Roland Velasco of Gilroy, California tells CNN, “Maybe not today, but there will be a day when we start to heal, and the reason for that is we cannot let the bastard who did this to us tear us down.”