People hold hands in St Pius X Church at a vigil for victims after a mass shooting which left at least 20 people dead on Aug. 3, 2019 in El Paso, Texas.

Courtesy of Mario Tama/Getty Images via JTA

People hold hands in St Pius X Church at a vigil for victims after a mass shooting which left at least 20 people dead on Aug. 3, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. 

 

(JTA) — Mainstream Jewish groups called for gun safety laws in the wake of two mass shootings that left at least 29 people and one shooter dead in the space of 13 hours.

Twenty people were killed and at least two dozen injured in a shooting on July 3 at a Walmart shopping center in El Paso Texas.  In Dayton, Ohio, 9 people and the shooter were killed and 26 injured in a mass shooting attack shortly after 1 a.m. July 4.  The shooting took place on the outskirts of downtown Dayton’s Oregon District, a popular entertainment area.

Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton in a statement called the news of the shooting in the city’s downtown “heartbreaking.” The statement also said: “As the investigation continues, we will keep you informed regarding what we as a community can do to help the families, friends, and loved ones of those killed and injured, and to help the city heal. Our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected by this morning’s events.”

The alleged El Paso shooter is in police custody and has been identified as Patrick Crusius. He reportedly posted a manifesto on 8Chan, a conspiracy theory message board, in which he wrote disparagingly about Hispanic immigration to the United States and in support of the manifesto and actions of Chirstchurch ( New Zealand)  mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant. Law enforcement officials reportedly were working to confirm that the manifesto was written by Crusius.

 Crusius was charged with capital murder, El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza said. Under Texas law, he could face the death penalty. The shooting is being investigated as domestic terrorism and a hate crime, CNN reported.

If the manifesto is proved to have been authored by Crusius, the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement, “this latest act of domestic terrorism will be, according to the ADL’s Center on Extremism’s records, the third deadliest act of violence by a domestic extremist in over 50 years and the second deadliest act of violence by a right-wing extremist in the same span, second only to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.”

The Dayton shooter, who was killed by police less than a minute after the start of the shooting, was identified late on Sunday morning by law enforcement as Connor Betts, 24, of Bellbrook, Ohio. He used a .223-caliber high-capacity magazine rifle in the attack. In addition, he was wearing body armor  and mask covering his face, and had extra magazines for the rifle. One of the victims of his shooting attack included his sister, Megan Betts, 22, who had arrived at the entertainment area in a car with her brother and a friend.

Responding to reports that the Dayton shooter identified as a “leftist” and railed against immigration offcials, Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, tweeted, “AS I HAVE SAID….. WE HAVE A HATE CRISIS ON THE FAR RIGHT AND FAR LEFT! WAKE UP TO THE THREAT. IT ISN’T ONLY WHITE NATIONALISTS!”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his condolences. “In the past 24 hours, we have witnessed two murderous attacks in Texas and Ohio. On behalf of all government ministers and all citizens of Israel, I send condolences to the bereaved families, best wishes for recovery to the injured, and solidarity with the American people,” he said in the tweet.

 

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