MEXICO CITY - The Mexican government plans to evaluate the possibility of extraditing the U.S. man accused of killing 20 people, including six Mexican citizens, in El Paso over the weekend and hopes the shooting will result in changes to America's gun laws.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Monday that Mexico will respect the debate that will unfold in the United States, but he believes the discussion could lead to change.
“There could be a change to their laws because it is stunning what is happening, unfortunate and very powerful,” Lopez Obrador said. “I don't rule out that they could change their constitution and laws. These are new times; you have to always be adjusting the legal aspects to the new reality.”
Many in Mexico were reeling Sunday from revelations that the shooting appeared to have been aimed at Hispanics - and Mexicans in particular.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard labeled the shooting “an act of terrorism” against Mexicans and urged the U.S. government to establish a “clear and convincing position against hate crimes.”
Seven Mexican citizens were among the dozens wounded in the attack in addition to the six killed.
“Mexico is outraged,” Ebrard said.
Ebrard said Mexico would take legal action against the business that sold the shooter the gun and that its Attorney General's Office would take legal action declaring it an act of terrorism against Mexican citizens. This would give Mexican prosecutors access to information about the case, Ebrard said. Then the Attorney General would decide whether to pursue the shooter's extradition.
“For Mexico this individual is a terrorist,” Ebrard said.
Just minutes before the rampage, U.S. investigators believe the shooter posted a rambling online manifesto in which he railed against a perceived “invasion” of Hispanics coming into the U.S. He then allegedly targeted a shopping area in El Paso that is about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the main border checkpoint with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Tens of thousands of Mexicans cross the border legally each day to work and shop in the city of 680,000 full-time residents, and El Paso County is more than 80% Latino, according to the latest census data.
The Mexican victims were identified as Sara Esther Regalado of Ciudad Juarez; Adolfo Cerros Hernandez of Aguascalientes; Jorge Calvillo Garcia of Torreon, Coahuila; Elsa Mendoza de la Mora of Yepomera, Chihuahua; Gloria Irma Marquez of Ciudad Juarez; and Maria Eugenia Legarreta of the city of Chihuahua. Other victims may have also been of Mexican descent.
As the news dominated weekend headlines, some in Mexico said the shooting was the result of the simmering resentment that President Donald Trump had stirred early into his presidential campaign when he called Mexicans coming into the U.S. “rapists” and “criminals.” The U.S.-Mexico relationship was only further strained after he took office and vowed to build a border wall and slap tariffs on Mexican imports.
On Sunday, Lopez Obrador chose his words carefully when speaking of the shooting.
“In spite of the pain, the outrage” that Mexicans are feeling, he said, the U.S. is headed toward elections and Mexico doesn't want to interfere in the “internal affairs” of other countries. He also said the events in Texas reaffirmed his conviction that “social problems shouldn't be confronted with the use of force and by inciting hate.”
Former President Felipe Calderon said via Twitter that regardless of whether the shooting is a hate crime, Trump “should stop his hate speech. He should stop stigmatizing others.”
Amatza Gutierrez, a student from the Mexican capital, said the idea of a shooter targeting Mexicans because of their ethnicity gives her goose bumps.
“I don't understand why anyone would go to that extreme,” the 24-year-old said.