El Paso Walmart gunman who killed 23 people faces federal sentencing

EL PASO – Sentencing begins Wednesday for Patrick Crusius, a self-described white nationalist who killed 23 people at an El Paso Walmart in 2019.

He will face survivors and relatives of victims in this border community still shattered by the Aug. 3, 2019, mass shooting, the deadliest attack targeting Hispanic people in the nation’s history.


Crusius, 24, of Allen, pleaded guilty to federal hate crimes after the Justice Department announced it would not seek the death penalty. He will have an opportunity to speak on the first day of the hearing, followed by victims’ impact statements. The hearing is expected to last several days. Much is riding not just for the victims, but for the binational border community, say political analysts like Richard Pineda.

Breaking News
Breaking News

Get the latest breaking news from North Texas and beyond.

“The federal sentencing stage is the first part of what will likely be a long healing process for this community,” said Pineda, chair of the Department of Communication at The University of Texas at El Paso. “Not only does the public nature of the sentencing allow the community to see Crusius for who he is, the penalty phase will allow many to reach some level of catharsis.”

The hearing “is hopefully one more step towards accountability and healing for our community,” said Peter Svarzbein, El Paso community engagement manager for the Anti-Defamation League and former mayor pro tem and city council member. “The violent tragedy of Aug. 3 was fueled by white supremacist ideology and xenophobia.  Unfortunately, the number of hate incidents and hate crimes have increased since 2019. To reduce this rise, we need to understand how words can motivate violence and confront the sources of hate.”


Among the dead were thirteen Americans and one German. So many were victims from Mexico – eight – that the Mexican government not only protested loudly but also filed a groundbreaking lawsuit against U.S. gun manufacturers. The supercenter is often referred to as the “Juárez Walmart,” because of its number of Mexican shoppers.

“May justice be served and may bigotry not lead to another atrocity like this,” said Roberto Velasco, a top diplomat and chief of North America unit at Mexico’s Foreign Ministry.


Among the dead was Guillermo “Memo” Garcia. He and his wife, Jessica, were selling snacks to raise funds for his daughter’s soccer team outside the entrance of the store. Guillermo Garcia, known affectionately as “Tank,” tried to shield his wife and two children from the gunfire. The two were hit by bullets.

Guillermo Garcia died nearly nine months after he was hospitalized. Jessica Garcia was also wounded by gunfire and is still trying to recover from both the emotional wounds and her family’s loss.

“Losing someone the way we lost him, and as young as he was and as young as our kids are, having spent literally half of my life with him…” said Jessica Garcia. “…I don’t think it really gets easier or better. I think you miss him even more as time passes.”

Garcia said she’s not sure she will speak during the sentencing hearing. She has thought and prayed about whether to attend this week’s sentencing hearings. She is considering her mental health and has doubts that Crusius will listen to what she has to say.

Garcia and other “survivors,” as she refers to people who were at the store during the attack, have waited for years to see how state and federal prosecutors hold the gunman accountable for his actions.

Crusius also faces state charges. The El Paso County District Attorney’s Office has said it intends to seek the death penalty. Crusius has also pleaded not guilty to a state capital murder charge. No date has been announced for that trial.

Watching other cases around the country make their way through the criminal justice system has weighed heavily on Garcia, while she has not seen this case progress with the same speed because of problems with the former District Attorney that ended in the prosecutor’s resignation, she said.


“There’s something that’s broken in the justice system,” Garcia said. “As somebody that was on the opposite end of what he did, I don’t feel like we’ve been protected.”

Crusius pleaded guilty to 90 federal charges including hate crimes. He will likely be sentenced to 90 consecutive life sentences, effectively keeping him in prison for the rest of his days.

In 2019, Crusius drove over 600 miles – 10 hours by car – from Allen to El Paso. Federal prosecutors said he wore “earmuffs,” used to protect shooters from loud gunfire, before taking a semi-automatic rifle from his trunk and walking through the parking lot toward the entrance on a busy Saturday morning.

After the shooting, investigators found a racist manifesto posted online that they say was written and posted by Crusius as he sat inside his car in the Walmart parking lot. In the post, the writer denounced “race mixing” and defined himself — a young man with no military experience — as a warrior in the fight for America and Europe.


Minutes after the killing spree, the gunman drove aimlessly in the parking lot before turning himself in to two El Paso police officers. He told them, “I am the shooter,” explaining he came to El Paso to kill “Mexicans.”

Aaron Montes is a special contributor for The News and news reporter for KTEP 88.5 FM public radio in El Paso.

Related Stories

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge, Black Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge, Black Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

This post was originally published on this site