EL PASO, Texas (CN) — The Texas man accused of killing 23 people and injuring 23 more at an El Paso Walmart last August was re-indicted on Thursday by a grand jury that added new murder and hate crime charges to the state’s case against him.
The newest charges against Patrick Crusius reflect the death of Guillermo “Memo” Garcia, a 36-year-old soccer coach who passed away nine months after the shooting. The new indictment also adds 22 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and alleges that the acts constitute a hate crime.
“The hate crime enhancement to the aggravated assault charges increases the aggravated assault punishment from a second degree felony to a first degree felony, which is punishable by confinement for life or a term from 5 to 99 years in prison,” according to a press release from El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza.
Crusius was first indicted on one capital murder charge by an El Paso grand jury, then was federally indicted on 90 counts, including capital murder. He is being held without bond. Esparza has said the state will seek the death penalty.
Crusius, a 21-year-old white man from Allen, a Dallas suburb, allegedly drove roughly 800 miles from his hometown to El Paso with a semiautomatic rifle resembling an AK-47 on Aug. 3, 2019. At the Walmart Supercenter near Cielo Vista Mall in eastern El Paso, Crusius took aim at Hispanic shoppers, prosecutors say.
Police claim that soon before the shooting, Crusius posted a white nationalist, anti-immigrant manifesto titled “The Inconvenient Truth” to an online forum, 8chan.
Crusius allegedly warned of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas” and claimed he was inspired by the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand. An arrest affidavit states that Crusius admitted to targeting “Mexicans.”
“We’re reindicting the defendant to include the additional death and to include all of those injured in the Walmart shooting in order to give the next DA all of their options,” Esparza told the Associated Press. “We just want to cover all our bases.”
Esparza’s term as district attorney — the county’s longest-serving, at 28 years in office — ends Dec. 31, and El Paso Democrats are electing his successor in a July 14 runoff election. There is no Republican opposing the Democrat candidates, so there will be no contest in November.
James Montoya and Yvonne Rosales, the frontrunners jockeying for Esparza’s office, both agree the state should seek the death penalty against Crusius.
About a dozen survivors of the August shooting appeared for Crusius’ first federal court appearance in February. Officials estimate that between 1,000 and 3,000 people were in the shopping center during the shooting.
Eight of the victims were Mexican citizens, one was a German national and the remaining 14 were Americans.