As several mass shootings within just days of one another left the United States reeling, the ideologies of the shooters began to come under scrutiny for possible ties to sites that specialize in radicalizing disaffected young men into violent white supremacists.
On August 3 2019, a 21-year-old man suspected of murdering at least 22 people at the Cielo Vista mall within sight of the border that separates Mexico from the United States drove hours to do so. It appears increasingly as though he went to the shopping center specifically because of its location and popularity with cross-border shoppers in order to target people who he thought were of Latin American heritage.
At least seven Mexican nationals are among the dead:
Me confirma nuestro cónsul otra víctima mexicana en El Paso,Texas : Ivan Filiberto Manzano de Ciudad Juárez,Chihuahua. Nuestras condolencias a sus familiares y amigos . En total a esta hora son 7 connacionales fallecidos que hemos podido confirmar.
— Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) August 5, 2019
The crime is being treated as a case of domestic terrorism:
Chief Allen told reporters Sunday that “it’s beginning to look more solidly” like the online manifesto, scrutinized by investigators, was written by the shooter.
The anti-immigrant writing described a potential mass shooting as a response to an “invasion of Texas” by Hispanic immigrants, according to a law-enforcement official. An apparent copy of the manifesto online also blamed corporations for encouraging immigration, both legal and illegal, in order to access low-cost labor.
Investigators believe the shooter bought his gun legally and acted alone, the law-enforcement official said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it was too soon to ascribe a motive to the shooting.
Many pointed out that the verbiage of the shooter’s apparent manifesto matched that in many of United States President Donald Trump’s tweets:
Authorities in El Paso have not announced a motive in what they call an act of domestic terrorism, but at the center of their investigation is an anti-immigrant manifesto. Officials believe the shooter posted it shortly before he opened fire but continue to investigate.
Patrick Crusius has been named as the suspect.
Portions of the 2,300-word essay, titled “The Inconvenient Truth,” closely mirror Trump’s rhetoric, as well as the language of the white nationalist movement, including a warning about the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
The author’s ideology is so aligned with the president’s that he decided to conclude the manifesto by clarifying that his views predate Trump’s 2016 campaign and arguing that blaming him would amount to “fake news,” another Trump phrase.
Shortly after the public learned the shooter’s identity, rumors began to fly that Trump, whose Twitter account often causes outcries, controversy, and spreads disinformation, was deleting old tweets with language that matched the El Paso shooter’s purported manifesto.
Trump’s staff is deleting his tweets that used words like “ invaders” and “infested.” They are trying to hide Trump’s words and actions.
You can find all of his deleted tweets here:https://t.co/ey62TMWZGL
— LiA (@LibsInAmerica) August 4, 2019
However, that claim — which was picked up by other high-profile accounts — is untrue. The tweet itself contained a link to a site that exists specifically to archive Donald Trump’s deleted tweets, and which had the following text at the top:
BAD INFORMATION ALERT
August 4, 2019 Note:
While @realDonaldTrump has deleted more than 500 tweets, none of the 13 tweets using the root of the word “invade” nor the 9 tweets using the word “infest” have been deleted. You can use the search on the page to confirm. All are still public and on his Twitter feed.
Three tweets total have been deleted in August as of 8/4/19 @ 8:50 pm ET. There is no change in his delete pattern.
A search on other pages that archive Trump’s deleted tweets, such as Trump Twitter Archive and Politwoops, confirmed that at the very least, @realDonaldTrump’s tweets containing those words remain live.
The Daily Dot observed that at least one person making the claim later walked it back:
“Why would Trump–or his aides–be deleting his tweets that refer to immigrants as ‘invaders’ if they have nothing to be guilty about? And do they seriously think there aren’t records, screen caps of all of his tweets of the past?” journalist Michelangelo Signorile initially tweeted.
Signorile later confirmed that the deleted tweets did not actually contain the word “invaders” but continued to argue that Trump’s staff is attempting to “whitewash” his tweets. Signorile claims a tweet written by Trump about the El Paso shooting received an “enormous” amount backlash, so Trump or his team deleted it and reposted it hours later in an effort to hide the negative responses.
“Here you can see I replied to the original tweets at 9:39 PM, but what I replied to has been deleted. That was deleted & reposted—exactly as it was—at t2;19 a.m. [sic] Thus my reply from earlier & many others would not be seen any more on his feed,” he argued.
It is possible to run a search for the words mentioned on several sites and see that many tweets containing the words mentioned here remain live and undeleted, free for all the world to see. However, we were unable to find the words “invader” or “invaders” in our searches of either live or deleted tweets.
8/4/2019, 8:57pm: Updated number of Mexican citizens dead from six to seven. -bb
8/5/2019, 10:55am: Updated death toll overall from 20 to 22. -bb