El Paso police arrest man with gun suspected of harassing migrants near church

El Paso police have arrested a man suspected of stalking and pointing weapons at migrants outside the Sacred Heart Church in downtown El Paso.

The 27-year-old man was identified by investigators and detained, but as of Wednesday evening he has not been formally charged as the investigation continues, police said.

For several weeks, a large number of migrants released from US Border Patrol custody have camped in front of the Sacred Heart Church and near the Greyhound bus station, waiting to leave the city.

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Police said the shooting incident took place on New Year’s Eve shortly after 10:30 pm when a person called 911 and said the driver allegedly harassed the migrants and pointed a gun at some of them outside Sacred Heart Church at 602 S Oregon St. .

Police searched the area but were unable to find the driver until about two hours later that night, police received a second call at 00:37 a.m. saying the man was driving near the Greyhound bus station, officials said.

Police patrolling nearby noticed the driver, stopped him at a bus stop and asked him to get out of the truck. The man got out and then jumped back into his car and fled. According to officials, the police car had a mechanical problem and was unable to follow the vehicle.

The next day, investigators found the car and identified the driver.

Investigators have spoken to various people, including migrants, in the area where the incident took place as part of the ongoing investigation. Police officials said additional details, including the identity of the suspect, would be made public once he was formally charged.

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Possible motives for the alleged gun incident have not been released.

Last month, the US Department of Homeland Security recently warned of the possibility of extremist violence against migrants and attacks on infrastructure in a bulletin released Dec. 23 by the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis, citing social media chatter, CBS News reported.

El Paso was the site of the nation’s deadliest terrorist attack against Hispanics during a mass shooting at a Walmart store on August 3, 2019. The mass murder case is pending in court.

El Paso Police and Texas State Troopers have increased their presence in the Sacred Heart Church area in Segundo Barrio due to crowds of migrants sleeping on the sidewalks, alleyways and in the church shelter. Some undocumented migrants do not go to city shelters for fear of detention.

Police officials said the increased law enforcement presence was due to various complaints from migrants and residents about drug trafficking, attempts by individuals to take advantage of migrants, and other issues.

On Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Border Patrol agents detained several people in Segundo Barrio, and a police squad was in the area Wednesday evening.

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