The FBI opened an investigation into what role ideology played in three recent mass shootings, part of a widening federal inquiry into domestic terrorism, reports the Wall Street Journal. As President Donald Trump prepared to visit the sites of back-to-back weekend shootings in Texas and Ohio, which left 31 people dead, the FBI said the 19-year-old who killed three people at a Gilroy, Ca., festival on July 28 had made a list of religious and political targets. While investigators haven’t uncovered connections among the three attacks, authorities are looking at all three to determine whether the shooter’s ideology motivated the violence. FBI agents said Santino Legan, who killed himself as police officers in Gilroy fired at him, was exploring violent ideologies, as was Dayton shooter Connor Betts. Betts killed nine people, including his own 22-year-old sister, and injured more than two dozen others before he was killed by police 30 seconds after he started firing.
The alleged El Paso shooter, Patrick Crusius, said in a manifesto attributed to him that he wanted to target Hispanics who he said posed an ethnic and cultural threat to the U.S. and were taking jobs from native-born Americans. Only recently has the Justice Department more freely embraced the term “domestic terrorism” to describe violence by Americans directed at fellow citizens. This year, the FBI established a Domestic Terrorism-Hate Crimes Fusion Cell, bringing together its criminal and counterterrorism divisions to share resources and coordinate on investigations. In Dayton, the probe has evidence of Betts “very specifically seeking out information that promotes violence,” said FBI agent Todd Wickerham. In high school, Betts compiled a list of people he wanted to harm. Caitlyn Johnson dated Betts for several months until she broke up with him in May because she found his interest in mass shooting and other behaviors disturbing.