Suspect in El Paso Massacre Charged With Capital Murder

Several law enforcement agencies respond to an active shooter at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3, 2019. (Mark Lambie/The El Paso Times via AP, File)

(CN) – A grand jury in Texas delivered a capital murder indictment Thursday against the suspect in last month’s deadly mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart.

The El Paso County District Attorney’s Office announced the indictment in a statement Thursday, saying DA Jaime Esparza will seek the death penalty in the case.

“Capital murder is the highest charge in the state of Texas and is punishable by death or life imprisonment without parole if found guilty,” the office said in a statement.

The indictment itself was not immediately available. The district attorney’s office said in an email the local district clerk has 10 days to file the document.

Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old white man, is accused of shooting and killing 22 people – mostly Latinos – and injuring more than two dozen others in the Aug. 3 rampage.

Police believe the suspect authored a racist manifesto that appeared online ahead of the attack. According to an arrest affidavit, the suspect told police after confessing to the crime that he had specifically targeted “Mexicans.”

Federal prosecutors have said they are considering a hate crime case against the suspect, though no such federal charge has been filed more than a month after the shooting.

In its statement, the district attorney’s office said it will “continue to work hard to ensure that justice is done and is committed to assisting the victims through the judicial process.”

In the days after the shooting, critics slammed President Donald Trump for his past rhetoric toward immigrants, explicitly tying the president’s use of the word “invasion” to the suspected shooter’s use of the word in the manifesto.

“Those words of invasion, they were coming from the White House,” Fernando Garcia, head of the advocacy group Border Network for Human Rights, said at a protest held five days after the deadly shooting as the president arrived in El Paso to meet with victims and first responders.

In late August, Texas Governor Greg Abbott backed away from a fundraising letter his team had distributed a day before the shooting that called on Texans to “defend” the southern border, according to the Texas Tribune.

“The killer in El Paso definitely was a racist,” Abbott said, according to the Tribune, “and he was intent on acting out on his racism.”

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