The FBI on Sunday called on the public to remain alert and report any suspicious activity in case of copycat attacks following the mass shooting Saturday at an El Paso Walmart that killed at least 22 people.
The attack may have been fueled by anti-immigrant hate, and officials are investigating it as a domestic terrorism case and possible hate crime.
“The attack in El Paso underscores the continued threat posed by domestic violent extremists and perpetrators of hate crimes,” the FBI warned in a statement.
Officials are now fearful that the high-profile mass shooting could instigate other attacks.
“The FBI remains concerned that U.S.-based domestic violent extremists could become inspired by these and previous high-profile attacks to engage in similar acts of violence,” the statement read. “The FBI asks the American public to report to law enforcement any suspicious activity that is observed either in person or online.”
The FBI for the first time has identified fringe conspiracy theories — including those promulgated by QAnon — as a domestic terrorist threat, according to a previously unpublicized document reported Wednesday by Yahoo News.
The bureau is currently supporting Texas and El Paso authorities with “investigative, intelligence, and technical assistance” in the wake of the El Paso shooting, the FBI said.
Deep support is being provided by the FBI’s Domestic Terrorism-Hate Crimes Fusion Cell, established earlier this year, which relies on experts from both the Criminal Investigative and Counterterrorism Divisions, according to authorities.
FBI director Christopher Wray on Sunday also issued a message of support and condolence to the victims and communities of El Paso.
“On behalf of the FBI, I offer sincere condolences to the victims, families, and communities affected by this weekend’s violence, and we stand by them during this difficult time,” he said in the statement.
“We will bring the full resources of the FBI to bear in the pursuit of justice for the victims of these crimes.”
— FBI (@FBI) August 5, 2019
Wray praised the professionalism of local, state and FBI law enforcement in responding to the El Paso attack.
“I am proud of our state and local law enforcement partners and the immediate response of FBI agents, analysts, and professional staff, working in close coordination to assist them,” he said. “I have been in contact with the president and the attorney general, and they both have expressed their support for the FBI’s work in the wake of these tragedies.”
This story has been updated after the death toll increased Monday morning.
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