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Walmart shooting threats connected: FBI says 2 Borderland residents arrested were friends

Walmart violence suspects
Police mugshots
Alex Barron (left) and Vanessa Tarango (right) were each arested after allegedly posting online shooting threats about Walmart.

EL PASO, Texas -- A Horizon City man and a Socorro woman each charged over the past week with making separate online threats to shoot up local Walmart stores are friends and their threats appear to have been connected, the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office disclosed on Friday.

At a detention hearing, a federal judge on Friday ordered 29-year-old Alex Barron of Horizon City to remain held without bond because he poses a threat to the community if released.

Barron faces federal firearms charges after agents arrested him a week ago for allegedly posting online a "potential active shooter" threat involving Walmart. The FBI said it seized an arsenal of weapons at his home, including a machine gun.

Officials said Barron served prison time on a prior felony drug conviction and is in violation of his parole, which prohibits him from being in possession of firearms.

Meantime, authorities said Barron was friends with 25-year-old Vanessa Tarrango of Socorro, who was arrested a couple days ago for allegedly making similar "terroristic threats" involving Walmart.

Tarrango was officially charged in federal court Friday with posting threatening communications online.

In the criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office, FBI agents contend that Tarrango posted her threats in response to the arrest of her friend Barron.

Tarrango will have a detention hearing next week in front of a federal judge, and faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

Authorities have said they take these type of violence threats especially serious following the Aug. 3, 2019 attack when a shooter opened fire at El Paso's Cielo Vista Walmart store, killing 23 people. The suspect in that mass shooting is currently awaiting trial.

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Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.


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