Two mass shootings within 24 hours tear open old U.S. wounds

2019-08-05 15:05:32Xinhua Editor : Mo Hong'e ECNS App Download

Two mass shootings, which occurred in two U.S. cities in less than a day apart over the weekend, have resulted in at least 29 deaths, 53 injuries and torn open the nation's old wounds caused by gun violence in a way too cruel to imagine.

A male shooter, wearing body armor, used a .223 (caliber) high-capacity gun -- which was equipped with a double drum magazine with 100-round capacity -- to attack a commercial district in Dayton, Ohio early Sunday morning, killing nine people and injuring 27 others before being neutralized by responding officers.

Less than 24 hours ago, El Paso, Texas, a border city thousands of kilometers away from Dayton, took a heavier hit: a shooting at a sprawling shopping complex in the city left 20 dead and 26 injured.

In Dayton, local resident Amanda Luke told Xinhua that there have been "too many mass shootings" in her country at a local event in memory of the latest victims on Sunday afternoon.

"There's no other country in the world like this," she said.

Dozens of others were joining her in offering condolences, showing support to the community, and comforting each other. In the evening, thousands more gathered in the historic Oregon District, where the carnage took place, for a vigil.

The district, with art galleries, specialty shops, pubs, nightclubs, and coffee houses, is an attraction for both local residents and visitors, and usually remains busy late into the night.

However, it turned into a place of chaos and horror at the time of the shooting.

The shooter, identified as 24-year-old Connor Betts, fired "dozens" of shots before a panicked crowd rushed to seek shelter, according to local authorities.

Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl told reporters on Sunday afternoon that within 20 seconds of hearing gunfire, police started to engage with the shooter, and he was neutralized within 30 seconds after he began to fire shots.

Hundreds of people could have been killed if it were not for the officers' quick response, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said.

The deceased victims ranged in age from 22 to 57, according to police. The shooter's sister, 22-year-old Megan Betts, was among those killed.

However, the shooter's motive remains unclear.

Dayton local Lamast Smith said that he was staying "right down the street" as the tragic event unfolded.

"The shooting is continuing to play back and forth from my mind right now," Smith said. "What happens is a senseless act that destroys so many lives in so many ways. It's very disheartening right now."

Smith's feeling is shared by many across the United States as gun violence-related incidents happen on a too regular basis.

As of Sunday, which was the 216th day of the year, there have been over 250 mass shootings in the nation, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.

The non-profit defines mass shooting as an incident in which at least four people were shot, excluding the shooter.

The consecutive mass shootings have, as expected, rekindled the national debate on gun control as many Democrats, including a number of presidential hopefuls, were calling for an end to gun violence.

"Gun violence happens at schools, at places of worship, at work, at malls, at movie theaters, at festivals, and at home," Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tweeted.

"Gun violence can claim dozens of lives at once and its daily toll claims dozens," she said. "We have a gun violence epidemic in this country. We need to act now."

But pro-gun right conservatives are not on the same page. Though they also offered thoughts and prayers, extended gratitude to the first responders, and condemned the shooters, gun violence was hardly seen in their messages.

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