El Paso Walmart shooting suspect charged under federal hate crime law

El Paso Walmart shooting suspect charged under federal hate crime law

The man accused of killing 22 people in a shooting that targeted Hispanic people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, last year has been charged with federal hate crimes.

An indictment filed Thursday in a Texas federal court said the suspect, Patrick Crusius, 21, is charged with 90 counts under federal hate crime and firearms laws for his alleged role in the Aug. 3 shooting.

In total, Crusius is charged with 22 counts of hate crimes resulting in death, 23 hate crimes involving an attempt to kill, and 45 counts of discharging a firearm in relation to the hate crimes.

The people killed in the shooting include a teenage boy and a young couple with a newborn. Another man was injured while helping his daughter's soccer team raise money for a tournament outside the Walmart. 

The indictment cited a manifesto the suspect allegedly drafted shortly before driving 12 hours from Allen, Texas, to El Paso. The document, titled “the inconvenient truth,” is allegedly riddled with racist language, and says that his actions are in response to a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” 

The Department of Justice announced the charges Thursday at a press conference in El Paso. 

The addition of the hate crime charges are significant because they specify that the “violent crime was both an attack against specific victims and also an attack against a particular population,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said. 

If convicted, Crusius faces life in prison or the death penalty. Attorney General Bill Barr will decide which sentence the government will proceed with if a conviction is reached. 

“Here in El Paso, we will seek justice for the victims, and we will prosecute the Defendant to the full extent of the law,” he said.

“We stand committed to enforcing the hate crimes laws everywhere within our jurisdiction. We remain devoted to protecting the unalienable rights of all people throughout our great Nation, including especially those of the victims of this crime, their friends and families, and this community” Barr continued. 

The hate crime charges come two days after Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarTexas House Dems ask governor to issue stay-at-home order 20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order Hispanic Democrats demand funding for multilingual coronavirus messaging MORE (D-Texas) delivered the Spanish-language rebuttal to the president's State of the Union address. In it, she compared the words in the suspect's alleged manifesto to rhetoric the president has used in the past.

"Just before [the shooter] began his killing spree, he posted his views online and used hateful language like the very words used by President TrumpDonald John TrumpOvernight Health Care: US hits 10,000 coronavirus deaths | Trump touts 'friendly' talk with Biden on response | Trump dismisses report on hospital shortages as 'just wrong' | Cuomo sees possible signs of curve flattening in NY We need to be 'One America,' the polling says — and the politicians should listen Barr tells prosecutors to consider coronavirus risk when determining bail: report MORE to describe immigrants and Latinos," Escobar said.

When the shooting occurred, Escobar told the president he’s “not welcome here,” after learning the administration planned to visit victims.