Texas shooting: Five dead, 21 wounded
This handout images obtained courtesy of Ernst Villanueva taken on August 31, 2019 show a car with a bullet hole on the windows after a gunman opened fire in the I-20 highway in between Odessa and Midland, Texas. (Photo: AFP/Handout)
The suspect hijacked a postal van and opened fire on police officers, motorists and shoppers before being shot dead outside a multiplex cinema complex in Odessa, police said.
Authorities originally thought there were two shooters driving two vehicles, but Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke told a press conference on Saturday evening that he believed there was only one.
The suspect is believed to have shot the police officer who stopped his vehicle on Interstate 20 at around 2.30pm (local time) and then went on a shooting spree that spread terror through shopping centres and movie theatres on a busy Labour Day holiday weekend in the two cities, which lie about 32km apart in the Permian oil boom area of West Texas.
Video shown by a local CBS affiliate showed the white postal van crashing into a vehicle at high speed outside the Cinergy movie theater complex in Odessa before the man believed to be the suspected shooter was swarmed by police. Theater goers were seen running screaming out of the complex.
Police said the shooter was shot and killed in the parking lot of the multiplex.
"We do believe we have the threat contained but I can't be 1,000 per cent sure of that," Odessa Police Chief Michale Gerke told a news conference.
Gerke said the suspect was known to him but he declined to comment on a motive for shootings.
At least three police officers were among the wounded, CBS affiliate CBS 7 reported.
A spokesman for the Medical Center Hospital in Odessa said it took in 14 victims, but that it was too soon to give details.
"Grab onto your loved ones, pray for this town, stop and give your prayers for the victims," the hospital's director, Russell Tippin, told reporters.
At one point armed police ran through the Music City Mall in Odessa, forcing anchors for television station CBS 7, located inside, to duck off-screen as the building went into lockdown.
President Donald Trump tweeted that he had been briefed by Attorney General Bill Barr.
"FBI and Law Enforcement is fully engaged," Trump said.
The latest incident came after the mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart, where many victims were Hispanic.
In that case, officers arrested Patrick Crusius, 21, a white Texan, who told police that he was targeting "Mexicans", according to an arrest warrant published by US media.
The tragedy in El Paso was committed on the basis of "racist" anti-Mexican rhetoric in a country that "has always been a land of opportunity for every newcomer," Jesus Seade, Mexico's foreign ministry undersecretary for North America, said during a memorial after that shooting.
The shooting in El Paso came hours before a gunman in Dayton, Ohio killed nine people, reigniting calls for gun control in the United States where firearms were linked to nearly 40,000 deaths in 2017./.