The Department of Justice charged the man accused of killing 22 people and injuring 23 others during the Walmart shooting in El Paso Aug.3, 2019 with 90 federal charges, including 45 federal hate crimes after he reportedly targeted the Latinx community for the shooting rampage, El Paso Times reports.
Patrick Crusius, 21, is charged with capital murder in Texas state court which could bring the death penalty if he’s convicted, and he now faces federal charges that could also result in capital punishment. Crusius pleaded not guilty to the state capital murder charge in October and has been held in isolation and without bond since the shooting.
U.S. Attorney John Bash said during a news conference “we face a resurgent threat of racist violence” across the U.S. and said the DOJ is “going on offense against those plotting racist attacks.” He added that through the filing of these charges “we are vindicating the important federal interest in stopping crimes that are motivated by hatred of a particular group of people.” Hate crimes against Latinos rose more than 13 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to the F.B.I.’s annual compilation of bias-motivated attacks.
According to a federal grand jury indictment, Crusius posted a 2,300-world anti-immigrant manifesto shortly before the shooting that said, “This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by the invasion.” He mentioned a white nationalist conspiracy theory called the “great replacement” which alleges non-white people are purposely overtaking the white population, the New York Times reports. The federal charges said Crusius attacked the victims because of their actual/ perceived national origin thus violating federal hate crime laws. He’s also charged with using a firearm to commit a violent crime carrying a maximum penalty of capital punishment.
In court documents filed on Thursday in El Paso, prosecutors allege that he bought a GP WASR-10 semiautomatic rifle he used in the attack, along with 1,000 rounds of hollow-point ammunition, on the internet on June 19, the El Paso Times reports. Then drove nearly 10 hours overnight from his home in Allen, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, to the Walmart in El Paso with the intent of harming the Latinx community. The rampage is now the deadliest anti-Latinx attack in modern American history. The Cielo Vista Walmart reopened in November after renovations that now includes a large memorial for the victims in the south end of the store’s parking lot, CNN reports. #ElPasoStrong murals and banners remain prominent throughout the city where a little more than 80 percent of the population is Latinx.
“People in our nation have the right to go to a store on a Saturday morning without fear that they will be shot and killed because of who they are or where they are from,” Eric Dreiband, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, said. “This hate crime may be considered an act of domestic terrorism,” he added saying Crusius “tried to terrorize an entire community.”