- Mass Murder
- The El Paso Walmart Massacre
- August 3, 2019
- 22 dead – 24 wounded
On August 3, 2019, a mass shooting occurred at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas in the United States. A lone gunman (Patrick Crusius) shot and killed 22 people and injured 24 others. (The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism and a possible hate crime.)
The Great Replacement Theory was the Motive
Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old from Allen, Texas, was arrested shortly after the shooting and charged with capital murder. Police believe a manifesto with white nationalist and anti-immigrant themes, posted on the online message board 8chan shortly before the attack, was written by Crusius. It cites the year’s earlier Christchurch Mosque Shootings and a right-wing conspiracy theory known as the Great Replacement as motivation for the attack.
The El Paso Walmart Massacre is being labeled “the deadliest mass shooting in the United States in 2019”, the seventh deadliest since 1949, and the third deadliest in Texas. (The shooting has also been described as the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern American history.)
The shooting occurred at a Walmart Supercenter near the Cielo Vista Mall on the east side of El Paso. The gunman walked into the store carrying what is believed to be a WASR-10 rifle, a semi-automatic civilian version of the AK-47, and opened fire just before 10:40 a.m.
The store manager witnessed the gunman begin firing in the parking lot prior to entering the crowded store. He issued a “Code Brown”; designating an active shooter, to his employees who began helping customers evacuate or hide. Many customers and employees fled to other stores in the adjacent mall, hid under tables, or in shipping containers located behind the building.
First responders began to arrive within six minutes of the initial 9-1-1 call. The El Paso Police Department, Texas Rangers and paramedics responded to the scene along with the FBI. Other first responders included off-duty police officers.
The Surrender of Patrick Crusius
After the shooting, the suspect, Patrick Wood Crusius, drove to the intersection of Sunmount and Viscount, where he identified himself as the shooter and surrendered to Texas Rangers and an El Paso motorcycle officer.
The shooting resulted in 22 deaths and 24 injuries. Among the dead were thirteen Americans, eight Mexicans and one German. The names, ages and citizenships of the 22 dead were released by the El Paso Police Department on August 5. Seventeen were 56 or older, two were in their 40’s, two in their 20’s and one was 15.
Patrick Wood Crusius, born July 27, 1998, was arrested shortly after the shooting started, and was charged with capital murder. The 21-year-old white male, lived in his family’s home in Allen, Texas, in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, approximately 650 miles from El Paso. He graduated in 2017 from Plano Senior High School, and was enrolled at Collin College from 2017 until spring 2019.
Police said Patrick bought the gun used in the attack legally, but provided no details about the purchase. During his first interrogation, he told detectives he had targeted Mexicans, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
The El Paso Police Chief, Greg Allen, said that they are “reasonably confident” that a manifesto, titled The Inconvenient Truth, was posted by the suspect on the online message board 8chan shortly before the shooting. It identifies the type of weapon used in the attack and the suspect’s name, that was revealed in a separate document in the post. Claiming to have been inspired by the Christchurch Mosque shootings, that killed 51 people earlier the same year, the author expresses support for the perpetrator of the Christchurch shootings along with similar grievances such as environmental degradation, “cultural and ethnic replacement”, and a “Hispanic invasion”.
A Migrant Invasion
The anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant manifesto promotes the white nationalist and far-right conspiracy theory called the Great Replacement, often attributed to the French writer Renaud Camus. While the document uses similar language as used by U.S. president Donald Trump, such as referring to a migrant “invasion”, it states that the author’s beliefs predate Trump’s presidency, and that Trump should not be blamed for the attack. The author’s “racially extremist views”, according to The New York Times, could be used to prosecute the shooting as a hate crime or domestic terrorism.
The manifesto states that Democrats would soon control the United States partly due to an increasing Hispanic population, an idea that has long been promoted on right-wing radio. Criticizing both the Democratic Party and Republican Party for allowing corporations to “import foreign workers”, the author describes the shooting as an “incentive” for Hispanics to leave the country, which would “remove the threat” of a Hispanic voting bloc. While primarily focused on ethnic and racial grievances, the document also expresses fears of automation’s effects on employment and blames corporations for overusing natural resources.
An August 4th arrest warrant affidavit says the suspect waived his Miranda rights and confessed to detectives that he targeted “Mexicans” during the attack. On the same date, Mark Stevens, a San Antonio criminal defense attorney, was appointed by the court to represent Patrick Crusius.
The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas announced that the office plans to indict Crusius on hate crime, domestic terrorism and firearm charges, and federal prosecutors would seek the death penalty.
A spokesperson for the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office said that Crusius would not be arraigned until the investigation was completed.
The Indictment of Patrick Crusius
Crusius was indicted on capital murder charges on September 12. He pleaded not guilty to capital murder charges at his arraignment (which lasted less than 3 minutes) on October 10, 2019 at 2 pm, the first time the public and victims’ families actually saw the shooter.
The 21-year-old from Allen, Texas, verified his name on the indictment document and pleaded not guilty. (His attorneys, Joe Spencer and Mark Stevens, said the not guilty plea is an effort to fight the death penalty in this case, which prosecutors said they will seek.).
credit in part – wikipedia