El Paso Shooting Gunman Faces Death Penalty

By Victor Westerkamp

The suspected gunman of the El Paso shooting last Saturday that left 22 people dead and 24 injured faces the death penalty on both state and federal charges.

Patrick Crusius, the 21-year-old suspect of Allen, Texas, who allegedly killed 22 people and left 24 injured in a mass shooting at a Walmart store in East-Central El Paso last Saturday. He was arrested without an incident and arraigned overnight and now faces death-penalty on state charges, according to Reuters.

“I know the death penalty is something very powerful, but in this occasion it’s something that’s necessary,” El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza said during a press conference on Sunday morning, according to the Texas Tribune.

Separately, federal authorities will seek charges as it will be ruled as a case of domestic terrorism, which would also bear the death penalty.

The U.S. attorney for the western district of Texas, John Bash, said the crime meets the criteria for domestic terrorism and would, therefore, be liable for prosecution under federal law.

He said that the attack appeared “to be designed to intimidate a civilian population, to say the least, and we’re going to do what we do to terrorists in this country, which is to deliver swift and certain justice,” he added.

Esperanza said in a statement that the prosecution in county court would likely happen before the federal case, The Texas Tribune noted.

“This horrific act was committed in our community and he should be held accountable by our community,” he said.

Democratic Representative Veronica Escobar, who represents El Paso in the U.S. Congress, expressed similar feelings: “The shooter came into our community because we are a Hispanic community and because we have immigrants in our community. He came here to harm us.”

Police are investigating a 2.300-word screed that Crusius allegedly posted to a forum, 8chan, some 20 minutes before the strike.

Investigators, calling it a manifesto—that reportedly contained white supremacist’s stances and hateful expressions against Hispanics—are scrutinizing the text for further clues, and to establish whether it is authentically from Crusius or not.

The shooting happened just six days after the last major outbreak of shootings in a public place—a food festival in California where a teenager killed three people with an assault rifle and wounded a dozen others before taking his own life in a hail of police gunfire.

The Texas killings were followed just 13 hours later by another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, where a shooter in body armor and a mask killed nine people in less than a minute and wounded 27 others in the city’s downtown historic district before he was shot dead by police.

The shootings reverberated across the political arena on Sunday as Democratic presidential candidates called for stricter gun laws and accused President Donald Trump of stoking racial tensions.

“Hate has no place in our country, and we’re going to take care of it,” Trump said. “This is also a mental illness problem if you look at both of these cases. These are really people that are very, very seriously mentally ill.”

Reuters contributed to this report.