U.S. gunman killing 23 at El Paso Walmart pleads guilty to 90 charges

Walmart in El Paso.

Xinhua News

9th February 2023 – (Texas) The gunman who killed 23 people including eight Mexicans in 2019 at a Walmart mall in the largely Latino border city of El Paso in the U.S. state of Texas pleaded guilty on Wednesday to 90 charges, including 23 counts of hate crimes resulting in death.

His plea comes three years, six months and five days after the mass shooting took place on Aug. 3, 2019 as the deadliest attack targeting Hispanics in U.S. history.

Patrick Crusius, then 21 years old, also admitted guilty to 23 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder in a crime of violence, 22 counts of hate crime in an attempt to kill, and 22 counts of use of a firearm during a crime of violence.

“Today’s guilty plea marks one more step towards justice for the El Paso community; however, we must remember that the survivors and victims’ families will be on a lifelong journey of healing because of this defendant’s actions,” Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray said in a statement.

The shooter showed no emotion in court, and nodded his head affirmatively as federal prosecutor Ian Martinez Hanna described how the killing took place, the El Paso Times reported.

Hanna said that Crusius admitted to being a white supremacist and committed the mass shooting in an effort to dissuade Mexicans and other Hispanics from coming to the United States.

“This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” Crusius wrote in a manifesto he is believed to have posted online about 20 minutes before the shooting. He had bought a semi-automatic rifle and 1,000 rounds of hollow-point ammunition online weeks ago and drove 11 hours to El Paso from his hometown Allen in northern Texas with the sole intent of killing immigrants, the indictment says.

Prosecutors recommended that he receive 90 consecutive life sentences. The judge will consider sentencing in June.

“White nationalist-fueled violence has no place in our society today,” U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a statement. “By pleading guilty, the defendant has admitted that he murdered innocent people based on their national origin and targeted Hispanics.”

The U.S. Justice Department announced last month that it would not seek the death penalty in federal charges. As a result, the maximum federal sentence the white male from Texas faces is life in prison.

Crusius also faces state charges for the mass shooting. Texas prosecutors have said they plan to seek the death penalty but a trial has not been scheduled yet.

A database of mass killings in the United States since 2006 compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University shows that the number of deadly mass shootings linked to hate crimes has increased in recent years across the United States, AP reported.