EL PASO, Tex. (WOI) – An Iowan working for the El Paso Police Department said he is proud of the city’s response to last weekend’s mass shooting.
Lt. Dustin Liston, an Eldora native, ran the team that tracked down a manifesto believed to be written by the alleged gunman.
“We were able to uncover this manifesto relatively quickly, but we weren’t able to attribute it to the suspect until later,” Liston said.
Liston said that was pretty easy to find. What was more difficult was chasing down leads in a sea of misinformation.
“A lot of false information was being passed around,” Liston said. “ That’s the hard part of the job, trying to sift through what is factual and what is not. There was panic; there was an absolute panic.”
Liston graduated from the University of Iowa. He moved to El Paso 20 years ago and is now the director of the El Paso Fusion Center, a multi-agency tactical response information exchange for the region.
“I’m certainly proud of how this city has responded,” Liston said.
Liston is one of countless law enforcement officers that responded to Saturday’s mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.
“Almost everyone in the city with a badge responded,” Liston said. “There were some agencies I didn’t even recognize. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Liston said right now, the El Paso community is trying to understand what happened.
“It’s hard to quantify how everyone is how the city is doing, but I can tell you that the city is in shock,” Liston said. “The law enforcement community is in shock and our hearts are broken for the families that lost loved ones.”
While El Paso works to recover from this incident, Liston is confident the city will make it through.
“I certainly think we will recover from this and, as the mayor said, this one incident won’t define the city,” Liston said. “I think moving forward, the city has a lot to show and a lot to be proud of.”
Since moving to El Paso, Liston has put down roots. He has a wife and two children. His brother, also an Eldora native, recently retired from the El Paso Police Department.
Liston will continue to help investigate.
Right now, the shooting is being called an act of domestic terrorism.
Elizabeth Yates, an extremist researcher from the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, said there has be been a major rise in domestic terrorism in recent years.
“In the early 2000s, you saw one or two attacks a year, and now you’re seeing over a dozen in 2017 and several dozen in 2018,” Yates said.
But Yates said it’s difficult to track the terrorists.
“I think there has recently been a shift in trying to allocate more resources to track these kinds of threats, but it’s very difficult” Yates said. “There’s a lot of it and it’s hard to know what [is a threat], especially on the anonymous boards where they’re completely anonymous.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said there were more than 850 ongoing investigations across the country. An FBI official would not comment on how many of those are happening in Iowa, but Des Moines-affiliate WOI knows of a man who was charged in July for making online threats against a New York synagogue.