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Braun, Walorski, Young react to shootings

by Rob Burgess - rburgess@wabashplaindealer.com

A series of deadly shootings in Texas and Ohio over the weekend left over two dozen dead and many more injured.

On Saturday, Aug. 3, a lone gunman killed 22 and injured 24 at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Patrick Wood Crusius, 21, of Allen, Texas, was arrested and charged in connection with the shooting. A manifesto posted online and attributed to Crusius espoused white supremacist beliefs, and the incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime and a domestic terrorist incident by federal law enforcement authorities.

Then, just hours later, in the early morning of Sunday, Aug. 4, another lone gunman killed nine and injured 27 in Dayton, Ohio. The suspect, Connor Stephen Betts, 24, of Bellbrook, Ohio, was shot and killed by police on scene shortly after the shooting began.

In both shootings, the suspects used semi-automatic rifles. In the Ohio shooting, the suspect added a 100-round drum magazine.

Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana, issued a statement Sunday regarding the shootings.

“We are all heartbroken for the victims of these terrible acts of hate. I pray for those who were injured and for the families of those who lost loved ones. And I am sincerely grateful to the first responders and law enforcement officers who acted swiftly. There is no place in this country for hate of any kind – period,” he stated. “The President rightfully spoke out against acts of racially motivated violence and we must, as a nation, do more. That starts by grappling with the underlying disease in our communities: ideologies of hate, mental derangement, and a loss of respect for human life.”

Sen. Mike Braun, R-Indiana, also issued a statement Monday regarding the shootings.

“Maureen and I are deeply troubled by the recent shootings in El Paso and Dayton – there is no place for hate in our great country, our prayers are with the victims of this horrific event, and I commend the swift action from law enforcement and first responders,” he stated. “Mass shootings and gun violence across our country is a complex situation; watching Congress do nothing is unacceptable, and I agree with President Trump’s call for bipartisan legislation to address this crisis. Any bipartisan legislation needs to include: stronger background checks, red flag laws known as extreme risk protection orders that address mental illness, commonsense solutions that complement the Trump administration’s ban on bump stocks so we can crack down on modifications that turn guns into military-style assault weapons, and steps that are responsive to a culture that glorifies violence. We live in the greatest country in the world, but the tone and destructive rhetoric across the ideological spectrum is tearing our country apart and we must return to a society that works towards finding common ground on issues where we disagree.”

Though Indiana’s Republican Second District Rep. Jackie Walorski did not respond to a Plain Dealer request seeking further comment as of press time Monday, she did post a series of tweets about the shootings.

“After the horrific acts of violence our nation witnessed this weekend, I am praying for the innocent victims, the survivors, and their families. We must all come together as Americans to confront the evils of white supremacy, hatred, and terror in all its forms,” she stated Monday afternoon. “I am committed to working with my colleagues to confront the threat of domestic terrorism, address gaps in mental health care, ensure our laws are fully enforced, and protect the rights of law-abiding citizens.”

On Sunday, Republican Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb directed flags at businesses and residences across the state to be flown at half-staff to honor the victims through sunset on Thursday, Aug. 8.

In a Monday press release, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody criticized Holcomb’s lack of support for gun control measures and called for legislative action.

“The governor needs to lead and clearly state his support for universal background checks,” stated Zody.