WASHINGTON: A US man who was shot dead early Friday after he opened fire at several buildings in the Texas state capital may have had anti-government and anti-immigration motives, officials said.
Police in the city of Austin identified the shooter — who fired more than 100 rounds including at police headquarters and the Mexican consulate — as 49-year-old Larry McQuilliams.
City police chief Art Acevedo said the suspect, who is white and had a criminal record, may have had a political agenda.
“If you look at a person shooting up the Mexican consulate and then the federal building — this is all speculation — but when you look at the national debate right now about immigration, that certainly comes to mind,” Acevedo told reporters.
McQuilliams also tried to set the Mexican consulate on fire, and police said they found portable propane cylinders at the scene.
“A fire was in fact ignited, believed to be started by this suspect, but fortunately it was put out prior to the consulate receiving any type of extensive fire damage.”
It was not clear whether McQuilliams was killed by police or whether he shot himself, but Acevedo said an officer may have drawn his gun and opened fire with one hand while holding the reins of two horses with the other hand.
“For a guy to keep his composure, holding the two horses with one hand and taking a one-handed shot with the other hand, just says a lot about the training and professionalism of our police department,” Acevedo said.
Jesse Van Wallene, 29, told local media he stopped at a red light and found himself just a few feet from the shooter.
“We saw this guy in full riot gear,” Van Wallene told NBC News.
“He looked like a police officer because he had the equipment. He had a large gun in his hand.”
Another witness, Hans Paap, who lives in a building near the Austin Police Department, said the sound of shots fired woke him around 2:30 am (0830 GMT).
Paap said it was not clear if it was the suspect or the police shooting.
In a statement, Mexico’s foreign ministry voiced its “deep concern and condemnation.”
Nobody was hurt in the incident, it said, but there was damage to the building’s facade and entrance, “apparently due to gunfire.”
“For now, there are no indications that the shots were exclusively directed at our representation.”
The consul, Rosalba Ojeda, has been in close contact with US local and federal authorities.