HOUSTON — On Wednesday, February 8, the Texas man who carried out a mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart in 2019 agreed to a plea deal in a 90-count indictment.
After the U.S. Department of Justice decided not to seek the death penalty, Patrick Crusius, 24 —who killed 23 people and injured 22 more at a Cielo Vista Walmart on August 3, 2019— agreed to accept 90 consecutive life sentences, one for each count in the indictments against him.
The charges included 45 counts of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and 45 counts for using a firearm “during and in relation to crimes of violence.” The plea also included 22 hate crimes resulting in bodily injury relating to the attempts to kill 22 people injured in the shooting, plus 45 firearms violations, 23 counts of using a firearm in a federal crime of violence resulting in death, and 22 counts of using a firearm in a federal crime of violence.
“Today, the Justice Department secured the guilty plea of Patrick Wood Crusius, a self-described white nationalist, for federal hate crime and firearms offenses in connection with the deadly mass shooting targeting people perceived to be Hispanic immigrants at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in 2019,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Nothing can undo the immeasurable loss suffered by the loved ones of the victims of that attack or the terror inflicted on the El Paso community in its wake. Today’s action makes clear that the Justice Department will not tolerate hate-fueled violence that endangers the safety of our communities.”
In a statement of facts agreed to and signed by Crusius, he admitted to killing and wounding people at the Walmart because of the “actual and perceived Hispanic national origin” of the people he expected to find at the Walmart. In addition to admitting that he intended to kill everyone he shot, he also confirmed he wrote the manifesto titled “An Inconvenient Truth,” which he published online just before the attack.
In the manifesto, he described himself as a white nationalist who was motivated to kill Latinos because they were moving to the United States. Crusius also admitted that he targeted the border city to dissuade Mexicans and other Latino immigrants from coming to the US.
“In general, I support the Christchurch shooter and his manifesto,” wrote Crusius, referring to the attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019, that 49 people dead and 48 others injured.
“This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” Crusius said in his manifesto. “They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.”
The language used by Crusius is rhetoric also used by prominent conservative politicians, pundits, and social media influencers who paint a picture of the United States being “invaded” by Latinos.
“It has always been our intent to obtain proper justice for all the victims of the senseless El Paso shooting, their ever-resilient families, and the courageous community that continues to feel the pain of that day,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Leachman. “We continue to stand in support of all whose lives have been impacted, and my hope is that this plea leads to a sentence that can serve as an example of how the United States justice system does not tolerate anyone who chooses to harm our loved ones and our neighbors, especially when motivated by hatred.”
“White nationalist-fueled violence has no place in our society today,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This senseless massacre violates the law, runs contrary to our values as Americans, and defies the principles of tolerance and inclusion that define us as a nation.”
“This guilty plea cannot bring back those whose lives were lost, or heal those still suffering, but it does put us firmly on the path to justice,” Clark continued. “Our hearts are with the victims of this horrendous crime, their families, and the entire community.”
Crusius is scheduled to be sentenced in June.
Arturo Domínquez is a first-generation Cuban American, anti-racist, journalist, and the publisher of The Antagonist magazine. Twitter: @ExtremeArturo
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