Patrick Crusius blasted into a Walmart in El Paso with an assault rifle, a professed belief in white supremacy and and plans to gun down people of Hispanic descent and ethnicity, according to a hate-filled rant policesuspect was written by the killer.
“From the manifesto that we first saw, we attribute that manifesto directly to him,” El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said at a Sunday news conference updating the investigation.
Crusius faces charges of capital murder in Texas state court. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas John Bash said he intends to press federal hate crimes and firearms charges, which carry the death penalty.
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Prosecutors are treating the crime as a domestic terrorism case, Mr Bash said.
Authorities are investigating the gunman’s connection to the racist screed, which was posted on social media just before the attack, spewing open disdain for Hispanics.
WalMart staff after the terror attack, El Paso Times
The author of the online diatribe expected to die — to be killed by police or a civilian. “This is why I’m not going to surrender even if I run out of ammo,” he said. Crusius did surrender.
Police arrested him less than an hour after the massacre, without altercation.
Who’s Patrick Crusius?
The 21-year-old from Allen, Texas, was born in 1998, nine months before the mass shooting at Columbine High School, and is among the first generation that would never know an America without regular massacres at schools and malls and movie theaters.
Crusius worked at a movie theater concession stand, according to a LinkedIn profile. In a screenshot from closed circuit security footage at the Walmart, the shooter is seen wearing noise-cancelling headphones and carrying an assault rifle. He would have driven 650 miles to the store, popular with shoppers from both sides of the border.
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Crusius is charged with murdering 20 people and injuring 26 during the rampage. His decision to come to the borderland wasn’t random.
Suspected shooter and the written manifesto A 2,356-word diatribe, posted to an extremist online message board shortly before the shooting began, outlined the killer’s so-called political and economic underpinning for a premeditated attack, including the weapon and ammunition the killer would use. The author railed against an “invasion” by immigrants to the United States and a political takeover of Texas.
“The border an important symbol of fear and loathing in the broader political context around immigration,” said Joe Heyman, director of UTEP’s Center for Interamerican and Border Studies. “Unfortunately, people act out these paranoid fantasies that are stoked by powerful politicians and by xenophobic so-called thinkers. It gets through to some hateful and naïeve young minds.”
Mr Allen on Saturday didn’t directly confirm whether the online diatribe belonged to Crusius but on Sunday said during a press conference, “It is beginning to look more solidly like that is the case.”
“If the manifesto is accurately his, this means in one attack we had more people killed than all of the white supremacy/neo-Nazi attacks in 2018,” said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino.
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Hate crimes rose 9% in major U.S. cities in 2018 for fifth consecutive year — to decade highs, even as overall crime in major cities declined, according to a report published by the center. Hate crimes linked to white nationalist and far right ideologies “continue to be most ascendant,” the report said.
The killer’s alleged manifesto cited a 2011 French book by Renaud Camus called “The Great Replacement,” which gave rise worldwide to a conspiracy theory that the “white race” was being replaced by non-white, or non-European, people. He expressed admiration for the Christchurch shooter, who in March murdered 51 and injured 49 at two New Zealand mosques.
“This is the last in a string of young people between 19 and 21 committing these horrific acts,” Mr Levin said. “It’s the youngest generation that is diversifying the most. That is why that ‘replacement’ theory resonates with this angry, possibly mentally unstable cohort of young males who have easy access to weaponry.”
Mr Levin called the El Paso shooter’s alleged manifesto part of “an expanding bible of evil” and “a really disturbing part of the new extremism.”
The killer allegedly wrote, “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 an invasion.”
El Paso, Texas, shares an urban border and deep cultural and linguistic ties with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The U.S. Census shows the West Texas city’s nearly 850,000 residents are 83 percent Hispanic. The Walmart the shooter targeted are just minutes from the border.
In a Facebook profile apparently belonging to the suspect, the lead photo pictured a young white man in wire-frame glasses, his brow furrowed in a pained expression. His friends numbered just three, including a possible twin sister.
Crusius’ family and friends couldn’t be immediately reached.
Crusius’ Facebook account was deleted or suspended Saturday afternoon.
In the suburb of Dallas where The El Paso Times traced his address, Crusius lived in a two-story brick house on a cul-de-sac in a parkside neighborhood called Star Creek.
The neighborhood homes have manicured Bermuda grass lawns, access to a community swimming pool and a paved hiking and jogging trail that weaves between mature oaks and pecan trees.
Mr Levin cautioned that last year’s hate crimes linked to white nationalism spiked around the mid-term elections and are likely to continue as the country moves deeper into the 2020 political season.
“We’re going to do what we do to terrorists in this country,” Mr Bash said, “which is to deliver swift and certain justice.”
This story was first published by The Herald‘s sister paper, The El Paso Times