A horror mass shooting at a Walmart today has seen 18 people gunned down and killed, according to local reports.
A gunman is reported to have opened fire in the car park before going inside the store in El Paso, Texas, a city which is on the border with Mexico and the state of New Mexico.
Distressing footage posted on social media shows people shot and seriously injured in the car park.
Terrified shoppers sheltered under desks to hide from the gunman.
The number of injured is yet to be confirmed by officials but the mayor of El Paso has confirmed there has been ‘multiple fatalities’.
Police initially said they received reports there may have been more than one shooter but that now appears to have been false.
Video seen on Twitter shows people running out of the shopping centre with their hands up.
One suspect is in custody and the scene is no longer being considered ‘active’ by El Paso police.
Vanessa Saenz, a witness, told Fox News that she heard several “pops” near the area and saw a man in a black shirt and cargo pants with a weapon shooting outside the building before entering the Walmart.
He was just pointing at people and just shooting,” she added.
A shopper named Vanessa who was searching for parking in her car with her mother, told ABC News that she heard shots and at first saw a man who looked like he was dancing.
Moments later, she said, she she saw a woman a few feet away fall to the ground.
The eyewitness then describing seeing victims near the shooter who became cornered — with nowhere to run — and then watched the gunman raise a rifle, aim it at them and start firing.
Witness Rey Holgin told CBS News that he was about to go into the Walmart when he heard at least 10 gunshots.
Mr Holgin told CBS News that he saw at least one person, an elderly lady, fall to the ground, but he was not sure if she was shot.
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According to a police scanner the shooter was armed with a semi-automatic weapon, possibly an AK-47, and that they began shooting in the car park before entering the business.
The medical response has been described by local press as ‘huge’.
A spokesman for University Medical Center of El Paso said the hospital has received victims from the shooting, but did not have a number.
A worker at a hospital near the mall who was not working today said he called in to see if help was needed and was told 30 victims had been taken to the hospital.
At least three businesses in the area were locked down, reports CNN.
Three Walmart employees took refuge at a Landry’s Seafood house, restaurant manager Oscar Collazo told CNN.
“We never thought it would be so close to us this time,” Collazo said.
“You see on the news all the time, but you don’t think it could happen here until it does
People who were inside Cielo Vista Mall are being sheltered outside of the mall under trees, but are not being allowed to leave the lot, reports local outlet KTSM 9 News.
The shooting was initially reported at a Walmart next to the Cielo Vista mall in El Paso.
Shortly after 11am local time El Paso Police tweeted: “Active Shooting Stay away from Cielo Vista Mall Area. Scene is Still Active.”
At 12.11pm local time, the El Paso Police Department tweeted that they were searching a “very large area,” and said that they were responding to reports that there had been multiple shooters.
The NYPD counter-terrorism department tweeted: “We are closely monitoring reports of a possible active shooter in the vicinity of Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas.”
People have been advised to stay away from the area and the mall has been placed on lockdown.
El Paso, which has about 680,000 residents, is in West Texas sits across the border from Juarez, Mexico.
Rep. Veronica Escobar, who represents El Paso, said on Twitter she was “heartbroken” by the incident and was monitoring the situation.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate responded to the news of the shooting on Twitter.
“Truly heartbreaking. Stay safe, El Paso. Please follow directions of emergency personnel as we continue to get more updates,” he wrote.
Walmart tweeted: “We’re in shock over the tragic events at Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, where store 2201 & club 6502 are located.
We’re praying for the victims, the community & our associates, as well as the first responders. We’re working closely with law enforcement & will update as appropriate.”
The shooting comes just days after two people were shot and killed in a Walmart store in Southhaven, Mississippi, south of Memphis, and the same week that three people were shot and killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California.