Gunman of 2019 Texas Walmart massacre pleads guilty to 90 charges
Houston (IANS) The gunman who killed 23 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in 2019 has pleaded guilty to 90 counts, including 23 counts of hate crimes resulting in death.
His plea on Wednesday came three years, six months and five days after the mass shooting took place on August 3, 2019 as the deadliest attack targeting Hispanics in American history, reports Xinhua news agency.
Patrick Crusius, who was 21 at the time, also admitted to 23 counts of using a firearm to commit murder in a violent crime, 22 counts of hate crime in an attempt to kill, and 22 counts of using a firearm during a violent crime.
“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 late Wednesday.
According to the El Paso Times, the shooter showed no emotion in court and nodded affirmatively as federal prosecutor Ian Martinez Hanna described how the killing happened.
According to Hanna, Crusius admitted to being a white supremacist and committed the mass shooting in order to discourage Mexicans and other Hispanics from coming to the United States.
“This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” Crusius allegedly wrote in a manifesto 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 90 consecutive life sentences for him.
In June, the judge will decide on his sentence.
Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division of the Justice Department, said in a statement that violence motivated by white nationalism has no place in modern society.
By pleading guilty, the defendant has acknowledged that he murdered innocent people and singled out Hispanics based on their national origin.
Last month, the Justice Department declared that it would not seek the death penalty in federal prosecutions.
As a result, the white male from Texas faces life in prison under federal law.
Prosecutors in Texas have stated that they intend to seek the death penalty, but a trial date has not yet been set.
The Associated Press, USA Today, and Northeastern University compiled a database of mass killings in the United States since 2006, and it shows that the number of deadly mass shootings linked to hate crimes has increased in recent years across the country.