Suspected El Paso Walmart shooter pleads guilty. Recap of what happened in courtroom
Patrick Crusius pleaded guilty Wednesday at the Albert Armendariz Sr. Federal Courthouse in Downtown El Paso, according to court records.
Crusius pleaded guilty 90 federal charges in connection with the Aug. 3, 2019, mass shooting at the Cielo Vista-area Walmart.
The shooting suspect allegedly gunned down people in the parking lot and inside the store, leaving 23 people dead and dozens more injured.
Crusius, of Allen, Texas, on Aug. 3, 2019, drove from the Dallas suburb to El Paso with a variant of an AK-47 assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, according to the federal indictment.
Once in El Paso, he allegedly uploaded a racist tirade online stating, “This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” he wrote. “I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.”
The courtroom was filled with victims and family members of those who were killed in the mass shooting.
Dig Deeper:‘Invasion’ language continues after El Paso Walmart shooting
Defense attorney said Patrick Crusius wanted to take responsibility for massacre
Defense attorney Joe Spencer said that his client had wanted to take responsibility for the massacre since Aug. 3, 2019.
“We’re glad that it’s finally done, Spencer said. “And he’s glad that it is finally done. There are no winners in this case. He’s going to be serving 90 consecutive life sentences …”
Spencer declined to comment further citing a gag order connected to the state district court case against the shooter.
The gag order issued prevents defense lawyers, prosecutors, witnesses, victims and family members from discussing the case.
Patrick Crusius pleads guilty to all federal charges
Patrick Crusius pleaded guilty Wednesday to all 90 charges in connection with the Aug. 3, 2019, mass shooting. The charges included 23 counts of hate crimes resulting in death, 23 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence, 22 counts of hate crimes involving an attempt to kill, and 22 counts of use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Crusius was wearing a blue jail jumpsuit, a face covering and was handcuffed in front tied to a metal chain around his waist. Face coverings were mandatory in the courtroom. He wore glasses and his brown hair was longer and unkempt.
More:El Paso Walmart shooter pleads guilty to federal charges
The prosecutors recommended that Crusius receive 90 consecutive life sentences. The judge will consider sentencing in June.
The judge read each count, which included naming the 23 victims’ names.
Crusius showed no emotion. As prosecutors described his actions on the morning of the shooting, Crusius nodded his head affirmatively.
-Aaron Martinez and Daniel Borunda
Defense attorney Joe Spencer enters courthouse
Crusius’ attorney, Joe Spencer, entered with a group into the U.S. federal courthouse. “We’ll speak coming out,” Spencer told reporters in Spanish.
BNHR executive director: We hope the process goes faster
The El Paso-based Border Network for Human Rights has held vigils for those who killed in the Aug. 3 attack and has marched against gun violence and the pernicious racism that motivated the white gunman to kill people of color, including Mexican nationals and people of Mexican descent.
Executive Director Fernando Garcia said BNHR continues to work with the families of victims, who have agonized at the pace of justice afforded to the Anglo defendant.
“The people that we know, they are frustrated because justice has not come as rapidly as expected,” he said. “Why did it take years to get to this point? When people of color commit crimes they are rapidly sentenced. Systemic racism is part the judicial system; a white person has more legal privilege than others. It has been dragging on for so many years and the wound is still open.”
Garcia added, “We hope that the process goes faster, and the families can close the chapter.”
Courtroom officials expect large crowd for Patrick Crusius guilty plea
The courthouse and its surrounding area were quiet Wednesday morning hours before the biggest case in El Paso history was set to go before a judge.
The quiet isn’t expected to last long as court officials said they are expecting a large crowd to gather to hear Patrick Crusius, the man accused of killing 23 people during a mass shooting at an East El Paso Walmart, plead guilty.
Crusius is expected to plead guilty to 90 federal counts in connection with the Aug. 3, 2019 mass shooting.
Victims and family members of those killed, along with community members and dozens of media outlets, are expected to start arriving hours before the 2 p.m. hearing at the Albert Armendariz Sr. Federal Courthouse in Downtown El Paso.
Security will be strict as all people entering the courthouse will be checked by federal security police and metal detectors. Currently, there is heightened security with guards and K-9 units seen patrolling the grounds.
Dress code will be enforced and all people who enter the courthouse are expected to adhere to rules including staying quiet during the hearing and not acting out or yelling as Crusius enters his plea.
The federal courthouse dress code bans:
No T-shirts and body shirts (a collared shirt is acceptable for men),
No tank tops, tube tops or spaghetti straps,
No flip flops,
No capri pants, shorts or cut-offs,
No sunglasses (except prescription),
No caps or other headgear (with exception of religious headwear).
Angry that federal prosecutors didn’t seek death penalty
Adria Gonzalez told the Associated Press she didn’t plan to attend today’s hearing.
She was in the Walmart store and reported hearing the gunman shouting epithets against Mexicans as she helped panicked shoppers toward the store exits.
Gonzalez, like many in El Paso, is angry that federal prosecutors passed on seeking the death penalty in the racist attack.
“It’s a slap in the face for us Latinos,” Gonzalez told the AP.
Aside from El Paso victims, many of the dead and wounded were citizens of Mexico.
-El Paso Times Staff report
Former El Paso Mayor Dee Margo: It’s too personal
Former El Paso Mayor Dee Margo said he planned to attend the arraignment on Wednesday. Margo, who served as mayor during the mass shooting, said he attended all 23 funerals for those who died.
“I have said all along that I don’t think we can heal until he has been prosecuted,” Margo said. “I am disappointed that the federal hate crimes death penalty is off the table, due to the administration’s determination. But I am also hopeful that once this is over with, and his plea is adjudicated, it can then go to the state courts and he can be prosecuted with the death penalty. I have said from day one, I want him prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and that the full penalty apply.”
More:‘We will not let hate win’: After El Paso mass shooting, letters of support came from around the world
Margo said he keeps the prayer cards from every funeral on his desk at home.
“It’s too personal,” he said. “I’m not going to let them be forgotten.”
Remembering the El Paso Walmart shooting victims:
A majority of the 23 victims and dozens of wounded were of Mexican descent or Mexican citizens.
Andre Pablo Anchondo
Javier Amir Rodriguez
David Alvah Johnson
Sara Ester Regalado Moriel
Angelina Silva Englisbee
Adolfo Cerros Hernandez
Juan de Dios Veláquez Chairez
Gloria Irma Márquez
Maria Eugencia Legarreta Roth
Jorge Calvillo Garcia
Alexander Gerhard Hoffman
Elsa Mendoza de la Mora
Luis Alfonzo Juarez
Ivan Filiberto Manzano
Leonardo Campos Jr.
Guillermo “Memo” Garcia
-El Paso Times staff report
This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: El Paso Walmart shooter Patrick Crusius pleads guilty to charges