The Texas shooter in a racist Walmart attack is going to prison. Here’s what to know about the case

In El Paso, Texas (AP) — A white Texan shooter who targeted Hispanic shoppers in a Walmart in 2019, causing the death of 23 individuals, appeared before the court on Wednesday for the purpose of receiving a sentence.

The federal government did not seek the death penalty in a separate case in Texas, even though the state court did not have prosecutors for lethal injection. Patrick Crusius, who pleaded guilty to federal charges of hate crime and weapons offenses in one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. History, is set to receive multiple life sentences.

Investigators state that the shooting was preceded by Crusius publishing a racist rant on the internet.

During the court proceedings, relatives of the victims, including individuals from Mexico who journeyed for hours, will deliver impact statements. The sentencing phase may endure for multiple days.

Some information to be aware of regarding the shooting and the case:

Crusius, a 21-year-old, drove for more than 10 hours from El Paso and opened fire in an upper-class home in a Dallas suburb, according to authorities.

The trial proceedings commenced as Cruisus stepped into the courtroom on Wednesday, dressed in a jumpsuit and restrained with shackles, almost four years after the incident. He displayed minimal response.

Prior to the shooting incident, Crusius did not have any prior criminal records and was attending Collin College, which is located near Dallas. He was the offspring of a licensed therapist and nurse. On various social media platforms, Crusius seemed to be deeply engrossed in the country’s immigration discussion, frequently posting tweets with the hashtag #BuildtheWall and expressing admiration for the strict border policies of former President Donald Trump.

He further expressed his views on an online message board, posting a document about 20 minutes before the massacre, in response to the invasion of Hispanics in Texas.

Republicans in American politics continue to use the word “invasion” to describe migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, fueling rhetoric that critics say waves off anti-immigrant views and violence.

THE SHOOTING

Prosecutors say that the attack began in the busy parking lot of a popular Walmart, where participants in a fundraiser for the soccer team of girls were approached by the shooter, who targeted shoppers from the U.S and Mexico.

Shoppers were cornered near the entrance of a bank, where nine individuals were killed. Inside, Crusius continued firing with an AK-47 rifle-style weapon, before shooting people in the aisles and checkout area.

Crusius was captured shortly after the shooting and admitted to officers who detained him at an intersection, as per the authorities.

Over twenty-four individuals sustained injuries and a significant number experienced severe psychological distress as they concealed themselves or escaped.

THE VICTIMS

The individuals who lost their lives varied in age, from a 15-year-old high school athlete to a number of elderly grandparents.

The moments of heroism and intense fear were retold and witnessed. Among the individuals who crossed the routine shopping trips on the U.S. Border were several Mexican nationals, including former ironworkers, teachers, retired city bus drivers, and immigrants.

After Crusius was brought into the courtroom, Dean trembled and cleared tears from his eyes. Dean Reckard, the elder sibling of murdered El Paso resident Margie Reckard, journeyed from Omaha, Nebraska, with his spouse to be present at the pronouncement of punishment.

Reckard expressed, while outside the courtroom, “I certainly desire to listen to the perspectives of the families present here.” Additionally, he included, regarding Crusius, “I have nothing in particular to articulate.”

Hilda Reckard, the spouse, mentioned that both she and Dean attended the sentencing to “defend against hatred.”

“I knocked you down, and you knocked us down,” she said. “I think that someone is coming here to take a stand.”

TEST CASE

In the most prominent instances, President Joe Biden’s Justice Department has taken steps to more assertively identify hate crimes and achieve significant outcomes, amidst the process of sentencing.

According to a database of mass killings in the U.S., The 2019 Walmart attack is identified as the most lethal out of twelve mass shootings connected to hate crimes since 2006, as compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today, and Northeastern University.

Crusius, in the case of hate crimes, is not subject to the death penalty. In February, Crusius agreed to accept a maximum of 90 consecutive life sentences to avoid the potential death penalty, as he was charged with using a firearm in a violent crime resulting in death.

Crusius, who has suffered from schizoaffective disorder characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and mood swings, has acknowledged but not formally explained their decision, according to federal prosecutors.

Adria Gonzalez, a 41-year-old native of El Paso, who survived the attack at Walmart, says she fears that her life sentence won’t be enough to rein in racist attacks on Latinos. She even helped panicked shoppers as she exited.

“It’s not just him. There are other individuals, other factions that could harm us,” she stated.

WHAT’S NEXT

Crusius still faces charges of capital murder in state court and could potentially be sentenced to death if found guilty.

In November, the former district attorney of El Paso County resigned from her job amidst mounting criticism over her performance, which included accusations about her handling of the case and the problems within her office that were slowing down the progress of the Crusius’ case.

Facing high hurdles is typically how one succeeds, but in the U.S., Mass shootings often result in common lawsuits. Walmart has also been sued by the relatives of the victims.

___