Fact Check

Did Joe Biden Say the Mass Shootings in El Paso and Dayton Happened in 'Houston' and 'Michigan'?

Biden reportedly made the gaffe during a campaign event in San Diego, California.

Published Aug 7, 2019

BURLINGTON, IA - AUGUST 07: Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks about White Nationalism during a campaign press conference on August 7, 2019 in Burlington, Iowa. (Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images) (Tom Brenner/Getty Images)
Image Via Tom Brenner/Getty Images
Joe Biden incorrectly referred to the locations of massacres in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in early August 2019 as having happened in "Houston" and "Michigan."

Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden incorrectly referred to the locations of two mass shootings in August 2019 in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, as having happened in "Houston," Texas, and "Michigan." The remark came during a speech Biden gave at a fundraiser in San Diego, California, on Aug. 4, the same day as the Dayton massacre.

According to San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Lyndsay Winkley, about 75 people attended the event, which was held at a private residence in the Del Cerro neighborhood of San Diego. Winkley, who was a pool reporter at the event, told us she personally heard Biden make the gaffe. It came during a speech in which he vowed to ban assault-style firearms if elected president in 2020.

Winkley said Biden corrected himself about two minutes later, referring to El Paso by name and noting he had mistakenly referred to Dayton as "Michigan."

Readers asked Snopes to verify whether this incident occurred. Based on the fact it was witnessed and verified by a reporter on assignment, we rate it "true."

Both Biden and Trump incorrectly stated the location of the weekend tragedies, although Trump had a bigger platform on which to did so and did not immediately correct the record. During a televised speech at the White House addressing the weekend gun attacks, Trump mistakenly referred to the location of the Dayton shooting as "Toledo."

Twenty-two people were killed and dozens injured on Aug. 3, 2019, in a massacre at a Walmart in El Paso, then nine people were killed and more than a dozen injured in a mass shooting in Dayton one day later.

The FBI is investigating the El Paso massacre as an act of domestic terror; the suspect, Paul Crusius, is believed to have posted a manifesto professing hatred for Latino immigrants. A third mass shooting in Gilroy, California, on July 28, 2019, is also being investigated as an act of domestic terror.


Winkley, Lyndsay. "After Mass Shootings, Biden Says Trump Rhetoric Fueling Acts of Violence."   The San Diego Union Tribune. 4 August 2019.

Larsen, Emily. "Confusion: Biden Offers Sympathy for the 'Tragic Events in Houston Today and Also in Michigan.'"   Washington Examiner. 5 August 2019.

Arango, Tim, et al. "Minutes Before El Paso Killing, Hate-Filled Manifesto Appears Online."   The New York Times. 3 August 2019.

CBS News. "El Paso Shooting: Prosecutors to Seek Death Penalty for 'Domestic Terrorism.'"   5 August 2019.

Smith, Mitch, et al. "Dayton Gunman Had Been Exploring ‘Violent Ideologies,’ F.B.I. Says."   The New York Times. 6 August 2019.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who started her career as a daily newspaper reporter and has covered everything from crime to government to national politics. She has written for ... read more