El Paso, TX – Prosecutors announced Thursday that the man who murdered 22 people and wounded 24 more at an Cielo Vista Walmart was indicted on 90 counts that included federal hate crimes.
U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas John Bash said the hate crime charges against 21-year-old Patrick Crucius were part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DoJ) promise to fight the “resurgent threat of violence motivated by race, national origins and other categories,” FOX News reported.
Bash said that federal officials were treating the attack on the El Paso-area Walmart on Aug. 3, 2019 as an act of domestic terrorism.
“The indictment alleges that the defendant targeted the victims because of real or perceived national origin,” Bash said. “By charging the defendant under that law, we are vindicating the important federal interest in stopping crimes that are motivated by hatred of a particular group of people.”
The hate crimes filed against the shooter are in addition to the capital murder charges filed by the state of Texas, FOX News reported.
The gunman pleaded not guilty to the state charges despite the fact that he admitted to police he was the shooter when he was apprehended.
Prosecutors said that the shooter posted a racist, hate-filled manifesto online shortly before he opened fire at the superstore with an AK-47, KFOX reported.
“In that manifesto, he called that attack a response to, quote, ‘the Hispanic invasion of Texas.’ He claimed to be defending the United States from, quote, ‘the cultural and cultural replacement brought on by the replacement,’” Bash told reporters at a press conference on Feb. 6.
The district attorney has said he is pursuing the death penalty on the state charges, and Bash said that if the gunman is convicted on the federal charges, he could face the death penalty in that case, too, FOX News reported.
The massacre at the Walmart was committed early on a Saturday morning in August when the store was full to capacity with families back-to-school shopping.
El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen told reporters at the time that the 21-year-old gunman drove to El Paso from his home in Allen and became lost shortly after arriving in the city, the New York Post reported.
Chief Allen said the shooter stopped at the Walmart because he was hungry and it was the first place that he found to eat.
Police suspect that the would-be shooter cased the Walmart as he sat eating his meal, and then went back out to his vehicle to retrieve his weapon, the New York Post reported.
Witnesses said that the shooter marched into the Walmart with a blank expression and began shooting indiscriminately, The Washington Post reported.
Twenty-two people were fatally shot and another 24 were wounded when the shooting stopped.
Police believe the gunman legally purchased the rifle that he used in his rampage, USA Today reported.