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Armed Citizen Stops Mass Shooter Inside El Paso Mall

El Paso, TX – A legally-armed bystander heroically jumped into action to stop a gunman during a mass shooting at the Cielo Vista Mall last week, according to police.

El Paso Police Chief Peter Pacillas provided preliminary details about the Feb. 15 incident during a press briefing later that night, FOX News reported.

Chief Pacillas said the El Paso Police Department (EPPD) received reports of a gunman firing off multiple rounds inside the Cielo Vista Mall at approximately 5:05 p.m. on Feb. 15.

Investigators said the shooting occurred after a confrontation between two groups, FOX News reported.

The confrontation escalated into a “physical fight” before a 16-year-old boy suddenly pulled out a handgun and opened fire, fatally shooting 17-year-old Angeles Zaragoza and wounding second 17-year-old, the El Paso Police Department (EPPD) said in a press release.

A 20-year-old male was also injured during the shooting.

The 16-year-old suspect then allegedly ran off and tried to escape while pointing his gun at multiple bystanders, according to El Paso Matters.

Police said one of those bystanders was 32-year-old Emanuel Duran, an El Paso resident who is “licensed to carry,” FOX News reported.

The shooter was allegedly running towards Duran and other bystanders when Duran drew his weapon and shot him, according to investigators.

Chief Pacillas said an off-duty law enforcement officer was working security at a store in the mall when the incident occurred and immediately ran towards the gunfire, CNN reported.

He had the gunman in custody within three minutes of police receiving the initial call of shots fired, FOX News reported.

Duran and the off-duty officer provided aid to the wounded gunman and the victims until additional help arrived.

The 16-year-old shooter was transported to the hospital and has been listed in stable condition, FOX News reported.

Charges against the teen are pending, according to El Paso Matters.

EPPD Sergeant Robert Gomez said investigators believe the shooting took place in the food court on the mall’s upper level, CNN reported.

Sgt. Gomez described the scene as “chaotic” and said terrified shoppers and mall workers immediately tried to flee or seek cover.

The sergeant said the handgun the teen allegedly used in the attack had been reported as stolen, CNN reported.

Chief Pacillas said law enforcement officers from multiple agencies responded to the “dynamic scene” in the wake of the attack, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the EPPD, and the U.S. Border Patrol, FOX News reported.

The mall where the shooting occurred sits adjacent to a Walmart store where 23 people were murdered and nearly two dozen more were wounded during a mass shooting in 2019, CNN reported.

The 24-year-old gunman who carried out that attack pleaded guilty to 90 federal charges as part of a plea agreement just one week before the mall shooting, according to the news outlet.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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