By the Associated Press
EL PASO, Texas— The mayor of El Paso said President Trump called him a derisive term for Republicans deemed insufficiently conservative during a visit to the grieving city last week.
El Paso mayor Dee Margo, left, speaks to the family of Andre Anchondo, prior to the funeral services of Jordan Anchondo at San Jose Funeral Homes in El Paso, Texas on Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019. Andre and Jordan Anchondo, were among the several people killed last Saturday, when a gunman opened fire inside a Walmart packed with shoppers. Authorities say Jordan Anchondo was shielding the baby, while her husband shielded them both. (AP Photo/Jorge Salgado/MANILA BULLETIN)
Mayor Dee Margo told PBS’s “Frontline” in an interview published Wednesday that Trump called him a “RINO” in a private conversation after the president paid his respects to the victims of the shooting that killed 22 people and wounded dozens more earlier this month. The term stands for “Republican in Name Only.”
Margo said Trump made the comment after he corrected the president’s “misinformation” about the border city’s violent crime rate — an issue the pair has sparred over before.
In February, Trump falsely suggested a border barrier caused a sharp drop in El Paso’s crime. But there’s no proof that the city’s decline in violent crime was due to the wall as it was in line with a similar trend nationwide.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The conversation became public as police in El Paso are trying to identify a man who they say saved several lives during the mass shooting at a Walmart.
City police on Thursday shared a surveillance camera photo of the man, saying that he’s considered a “hero” and that authorities need to interview him. Police said on Twitter that the man’s actions were “critical and lifesaving” and that he’s believed to have saved many lives during the mass shooting, including an infant’s.
Sgt. Enrique Carrillo said police are not releasing details of what the man did because that information is needed to verify his identity.
Police have said Patrick Crusius, 21, confessed to driving to El Paso from a Dallas suburb to target Mexicans in the Aug. 3 attack .
On Thursday, a scheduled football game between an El Paso high school and the school Crusius attended was cancelled for fear of disruption by extremist.
The game between Plano Senior High School and El Paso’s Eastwood High School had been set for Sept. 6 in Plano.
But officials in the North Texas school district said in a statement that they were canceling it because of safety concerns.
“What should be a celebratory event would be encumbered by safety concerns for the participants and fans of both teams,” said Superintendent Sara Bonser.
Plano police spokesman David Tilley said no credible threat had been made against the event.
Tilley said that Bonser, the Plano ISD superintendent, voiced concern to Plano Police Chief Greg Rushin that the game could potentially provide a platform for those with an extremist political agenda to amplify their message.
Tilley said Rushin agreed with Bonser’s assessment.
“They decided to err on the side of caution. The reward of playing this non-district game was not worth the risk of what could potentially take place,” Tilley told the Dallas Morning News.
Authorities believe that Crusius posted an anti-immigrant rant before the attack to an online site sometimes used by white nationalists.