Yesterday when Donald Trump traveled to El Paso to brag to hospital workers about the size of the crowd he got at his rally in the city, an armed Trump supporter menaced the occupants of a migrant community center and was detained by local police, according to The Dallas Morning News.
After the shooting deaths of 22 people this weekend at a Walmart by a white nationalist targeting Hispanic immigrants in the border city, Mexican Americans and immigrants are wary of being targeted by copycat killers with equally racist views as the man who digested years worth of Trump tweets and regurgitated them into a hateful manifesto to explain his murderous motives.
The 21-year-old suspect, Thomas Bartram, reportedly drove his pickup truck — emblazoned with a large picture of Donald Trump carrying an assault weapon on the outside of the vehicle and a campaign poster for Senator Ted Cruz in the rear window — from Houston for the president’s visit to the grieving city yesterday.
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After Trump returned to Washington, the man parked his truck in front of the Casa Carmelita community center where an eyewitness saw him wearing blue latex gloves, brandishing a gun, and attempting to enter the building.
Police spokesman Robert Gomez said today that a “suspicious subject” was detained and found to be armed with both a gun and a knife.
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Police interviewed the man while he was in custody and then released him after discovering that his weapons were legally obtained and that he had not violated any laws…yet.
The people at the Casa Carmelita community center were disturbed and fearful once they heard that the suspicious Trump follower had been released without charges.
They expressed their concern in a Facebook post:
Yes, in Texas even a white-hooded KKK member could sit with an open-carry rifle in a truck outside an African American church without violating any laws despite whatever clear intent of intimidation may exist.
All the more reason that the latest cluster of mass shootings must finally result in the passage of stringent gun regulations that can reduce the availability of assault weapons and put an end to the constant fear of another outbreak of violence that now pervades the nation.
If there was any doubt that Trump’s racist rhetoric has inspired such fear, the armed depiction of the president on his suspicious supporter’s truck should dispell it. At least, this particular potential violent incident was averted because of the prominent images posted on Bartram’s truck.
Let’s hope that all of the people with racist views and evil intent make themselves so easy to spot. Anyone wearing a MAGA hat deserves scrutiny at this point.
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Original reporting by Alfredo Corchado at The Dallas Morning News.