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Off-Duty Cop Takes Down Active Shooter After Deadly Attack Inside El Paso Mall

El Paso, TX – An off-duty law enforcement officer singlehandedly took down an active shooter inside an El Paso shopping mall on Wednesday evening without firing a shot, according to investigators.

El Paso Police Chief Peter Pacillas provided preliminary details about the 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.

One man was killed and three more were wounded in the attack, police said.

Chief Pacillas said an off-duty law enforcement officer was working security at a store in the mall when the mass shooting occurred and immediately sprang into action, according to CNN.

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

The suspect was apprehended without the off-duty officer firing a single round, Chief Pacillas said.

It was unclear on Wednesday night if the gunman shot at the off-duty officer before he was apprehended, FOX News reported.

The mall was quickly locked down and remained an “active crime scene” throughout the night, the chief said.

Chief Pacillas said two male suspects were taken into custody in connection with the attack and that there was no further risk to the community, FOX News reported.

Their identities were not immediately released.

Three male gunshot victims remained hospitalized on Wednesday night, Chief Pacillas confirmed.

Two were listed in critical condition, CNN reported.

At least one of the victims was working at a store in the mall when he was shot, according to the chief.

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.

Investigators are working to determine the motive for the deadly shooting.

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 EPPD is leading the ongoing investigation.

FBI Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Jeff Downey praised the off-duty officer for handling the situation swiftly and effectively, KVIA reported.

“A great deal of credit needs to go out to the off-duty officer that was on the scene quickly,” SAC Downey said.

He said the FBI has set up a website anyone with photos or videos from the mall can easily submit them to investigators.

“It is important that we get that information ASAP,” he added.

Investigators said any vehicles parked at the mall at the time of the attack must remain on-site until further notice, KVIA reported.

A family reunification center was established at the Burges High School gymnasium in the wake of the incident, according to officials.

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 last week, according to the news outlet.

This is a developing story and we will keep you updated. For all of our updates, follow us on Facebook and go to your news feed preferences under your settings, then select that you want to see more of The Police Tribune’s posts in your news feed. Otherwise, Facebook may not show you updates.

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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