2019 El Paso shooting
|2019 El Paso shooting|
|Part of right-wing terrorism in the United States|
|Location||7101 Gateway West Blvd.|
El Paso, Texas, United States
|Date||August 3, 2019 |
10:39 – 10:45 a.m. (MDT UTC−06:00)
|Target||Hispanic and Latino Americans|
|Mass shooting, hate crime, mass murder, domestic terrorism, right-wing terrorism|
|Weapons||WASR-10 AK-47–style semi-automatic rifle|
|Accused||Patrick Wood Crusius|
On August 3, 2019, a mass shooting occurred at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, United States. In the terrorist attack, a far-right gunman killed 23 people[n 1] and injured 23 others. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism and a hate crime. The shooting has been described as the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern American history, and is the deadliest mass shooting in the US to conclude with an alleged perpetrator being caught alive to face legal repercussions.
Patrick Wood Crusius, a 21-year-old from Allen, Texas, was arrested and charged with capital murder in connection with the shooting. Police believe a manifesto with white nationalist and anti-immigrant themes, posted on the online message board 8chan shortly before the attack, was written by Crusius; it cites the year's earlier Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand and the far-right conspiracy theory known as the Great Replacement as inspiration for the attack.
The shooting occurred at a Walmart Supercenter near the Cielo Vista Mall on the east side of El Paso. The shooter walked into the store carrying what is believed to be a WASR-10 rifle, a semi-automatic civilian version of the AK-47, and opened fire just before 10:40 a.m.
The store manager witnessed the killer begin firing in the parking lot prior to entering the crowded store. He issued a "Code Brown", designating an active shooter, to his employees, who began helping customers evacuate or hide. Many customers and employees fled to other stores in the adjacent mall or hid under tables or in shipping containers located behind the building.
First responders began to arrive within six minutes of the initial 9-1-1 call. The El Paso Police Department, Texas Rangers and paramedics responded to the scene along with the FBI and the ATF.
After the shooting, a suspect, Patrick Wood Crusius, drove to the intersection of Sunmount and Viscount, where he allegedly identified himself as the shooter and surrendered to Texas Rangers and an El Paso motorcycle officer.
The shooting has been described as the deadliest anti-Latino attack in recent U.S. history, resulting in 23 deaths and 23 injuries. One victim died the day after the event, another victim died two days after, and a third died eight months later on April 26, 2020. Among the dead were thirteen Americans, eight Mexicans and one German. The names, ages, and citizenships of 22 of the dead were released by the El Paso Police Department on August 5. Seventeen were 56 or older, two were in their 40s, two in their 20s, one was 36, and one was 15.
Thirteen victims were taken to the University Medical Center of El Paso, and another eleven to the Del Sol Medical Center. Two children, ages 2 and 9, were transferred to El Paso Children's Hospital after their conditions were stabilized. The Del Sol Medical Center patients were between 35 and 82 years old.
Patrick Wood Crusius (born July 27, 1998) was arrested shortly after the shooting and charged with capital murder. A 21-year-old white male, he was last known to have lived in his family's home in Allen, Texas, in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, approximately 650 miles (1,050 km) from El Paso. He graduated in 2017 from Plano Senior High School, and was enrolled at Collin College from 2017 until spring 2019.
Police said he bought the gun used in the attack legally, but provided no details about the purchase. During his first interrogation, he told detectives he had targeted Mexicans, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
The El Paso police chief, Greg Allen, said that they are "reasonably confident" that a manifesto, titled The Inconvenient Truth, was posted by the suspect on the online message board 8chan shortly before the shooting. It identifies the type of weapon used in the attack; the suspect's name was revealed in a separate document in the post. Site moderators quickly removed the original post, though users continued sharing copies. Claiming to have been inspired by the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand that killed 51 people earlier the same year, the author expresses support for the perpetrator of the Christchurch shootings and bemoans grievances such as environmental degradation, "cultural and ethnic replacement", and a "Hispanic invasion".
The anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant manifesto promotes the white nationalist and far-right conspiracy theory called the Great Replacement, often attributed to the French writer Renaud Camus. While the document uses language about immigrants similar to that used by U.S. president Donald Trump,[n 2] such as referring to a migrant "invasion", it states that the author's beliefs predate Trump's presidency, and that Trump should not be blamed for the attack. The author's "racially extremist views", according to The New York Times, could be used to prosecute the shooting as a hate crime or domestic terrorism.
The manifesto states that Democrats would soon control the United States partly due to an increasing Hispanic population, an idea that had gained acceptance for years on right-wing radio shows. Criticizing both the Democratic Party and Republican Party for allowing corporations to "import foreign workers", the author describes the shooting as an "incentive" for Hispanics to leave the country, which would "remove the threat" of a Hispanic voting bloc. While primarily focused on ethnic and racial grievances, the document also expresses fears of automation's effects on employment and blames corporations for overusing natural resources.
There are multiple investigations and jurisdictions involved with the case. FBI officials in El Paso served multiple warrants in the Dallas area and interviewed acquaintances of Crusius in Dallas and San Antonio.
On February 6, 2020, Crusius was charged with 90 federal charges: 22 counts of committing a hate crime resulting in death, 22 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder, 23 counts of a hate crime involving an attempt to kill, and 23 counts of use of a firearm during a crime. Federal prosecutors of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas are seeking the death penalty, but the final decision on whether a federal capital sentence will be sought will be made by the Attorney General of the United States.
Crusius waived his federal bond hearing on February 12, 2020, during his first federal court appearance. A trial in federal court is expected before the trial in state court. On July 23, 2020, Crusius entered a plea of not-guilty to federal charges. He also waived his arraignment on those charges.
In July 2020, the federal court granted a defense motion for more time to investigate "a number of 'red-flag' mitigation themes" as federal prosecutors decided whether to seek a death sentence. In the motion, the defense said that Crusius had "severe" lifelong neurological and mental disabilities; that he was treated with anti-psychotic medication after his arrest; and that he was in a "psychotic state" when arrested.
The trial was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Texas and the large volume of evidence. At a February 2022 hearing, the defense team requested a trial start date of March 2025 or later, while federal prosecutors asked for a June 2023 trial date. Defense attorneys said they needed more time to comb through 1.76 million files and 763 gigabytes of video obtained through the discovery process, and told U.S. District Judge David C. Guaderrama that the defense might raise an insanity defense. In the same hearing, the prosecution team said that the federal government had not yet decided whether to pursue the death penalty.
Crusius was indicted on capital murder charges by a Texas grand jury on September 12, 2019. He pleaded not guilty to capital murder charges at his arraignment on October 10, 2019, at the El Paso County Courthouse. Mark Stevens, a San Antonio criminal defense attorney, was appointed by the state court to represent Crusius, along with defense attorney Joe Spencer. On April 28, 2020, prosecutors announced they would be seeking a new capital murder charge following the recent death of a twenty-third victim after he spent nine months in the hospital.
The state trial is expected to occur after the federal trial. Proceedings were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the massive amount of evidence in the case.
Funerals and vigils
Several funeral homes in El Paso and Ciudad Juárez announced they would provide funeral services for free to the families of the victims as a sign of solidarity for their community. Ciudad Juárez's Rotary International chapter organized a vigil in Ciudad Juárez. They gathered at a park and lit candles and shone cellphone lights in El Paso's direction as a sign of solidarity.
Antonio Basco declared his wife's funeral on August 16 to be open to anyone who wished to attend. Hundreds of people from El Paso and other parts of the country attended, and flowers were sent from around the world.
El Paso musician Khalid held a benefit concert for his home city on September 1, featuring several high-profile artists and introduced by fellow El Paso native and former US Representative Beto O'Rourke.
One week after the shooting, a citizen from Ciudad Juárez, Jorge Luis Martínez Chávez, ran a total of 22 miles, a mile for each of the people killed in the Walmart shooting (one additional victim died months later), starting at the Zaragoza bridge in Juárez, Mexico, and finishing at the Walmart memorial in El Paso where the attack was perpetrated.
Two days after the shooting, a Walmart corporate employee sent a memorandum to Walmart's entire e-commerce division, which includes thousands of employees, urging a "sick-out" strike to force the corporation to stop selling guns. Walmart later sent out a memo instructing workers to remove signs and displays that "contain violent themes or aggressive behavior" and pledged $400,000 for funds that were aimed at helping the victims of the mass shooting. On September 3, the company announced it would stop selling ammunition for handguns and assault rifles in the United States, as well as ask customers not to openly carry firearms into their stores.
Terrorism experts, including Peter R. Neumann, cited the Great Replacement conspiracy theory as a common factor among several similar attacks. The Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog linked the shooting with the earlier Christchurch mosque shootings and the Poway synagogue shooting, citing the similar white nationalist contents of the respective attackers' manifestos. Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation league, said that the shooting, as part of a series of similar attacks, indicated a "global threat" of white supremacy. NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg urged countries to work together to prevent "lone wolf" attackers who find inspiration in one another's actions. Others, including the writer Daniel Okrent, disputed the "lone wolf" idea, pointing to the ways in which technology allows those with similar violent ideologies to congregate online.
Several commentators attributed both the El Paso and Christchurch shootings to an ideology of eco-fascism. The Washington Post described the El Paso and Christchurch shootings as examples of an eco-fascist trend among white supremacists. Writing in GQ, Luke Darby referred to the "distinctly environmental theme" of Crusius' alleged manifesto. Jeet Heer in The Nation described the manifesto as being based in "Malthusian fascism", a worldview in which different races vie against one another in the face of environmental crises such as global warming. Mainstream environmentalists, including the executive director of the Sierra Club, denounced the attacker's alleged white-supremacist motivations.
President Donald Trump condemned the shooting as "hateful" and an "act of cowardice" later that day. He promised that his administration would provide "total support". In a later statement, Trump announced after the shootings in El Paso and in Dayton, Ohio, that all US flags, both domestic and abroad, would be flown at half-staff until sunset on August 8. In a speech from the White House on August 5, Trump said: "In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America." On August 7, Trump said he was "concerned about the rise of any group of hate", whether it was "white supremacy, whether it's any other kind of supremacy, whether it's antifa".
Within two days of the shooting, #WhiteSupremacistInChief reached the number one trend on Twitter as critics pointed out that statements in the suspect's alleged manifesto mirrored comments Trump had made in the past, including references to illegal immigration as an "invasion" and telling an unspecified group of "'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe" to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came". Media outlets also highlighted an incident in May 2019 where an audience member at a campaign rally suggested shooting illegal migrants crossing the border, to which Trump responded with a joke, saying, "only in the Panhandle you can get away with that".
A statement released by former president Barack Obama stated, "We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments," which has widely been interpreted as a criticism of Trump's specific rhetoric. Trump's remark that violent video games contributed to such mass shootings, a view echoed by other politicians such as House Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy and Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, drew criticism from the video game industry, as past studies have found that no link exists between shootings and video games, and accused the government of using the medium as a scapegoat.
U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, who represents El Paso in Congress, brought a town hall meeting in the city to an early close following the shooting. Escobar later said there was also a hate epidemic, with domestic terrorism resulting from the dehumanization of others. Texas Senator Ted Cruz issued a written statement deploring "this unspeakable evil." Beto O'Rourke, a native of El Paso who represented the city in Congress from 2013 to 2019, said he was "incredibly saddened" but that "The [El Paso] community is going to stay together. Everyone's resolved to make sure this doesn't continue to happen in this country." Texas Governor Greg Abbott called the shooting "a heinous and senseless act of violence". Texas Senator John Cornyn said that gun violence would not be solved by focusing on law-abiding citizens. Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said violent video games were partly to blame.
Members of the Democratic Party criticized Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric in the wake of the shooting, including congresswoman Escobar and 2020 presidential candidates O'Rourke, Cory Booker, and Joe Biden. Other 2020 candidates called for political action to eliminate gun violence, including Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang. The incident also caused many celebrities and media figures to debate gun rights within the United States, with some condemning the perceived inaction of many political figures in stopping the large number of mass shootings in the country. That same evening, Moms Demand Action, which had a convention that weekend in Washington, DC, led a march and vigil outside the White House in support of gun control in the United States and the ban of assault weapons.
The day after the shooting, some prominent Republicans, including Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, also spoke of the need to combat white-supremacist terrorism. Texas senator Ted Cruz decried the shooting as a "heinous act of terrorism and white supremacy". On Twitter, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein classified the attack as "white terrorism". Many Latinos interviewed by The New York Times said they felt disturbed at becoming targets of white-nationalist violence.
Dan Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), issued a statement on Twitter denouncing the shooting, with no mention of Crusius' alleged manifesto. The group regularly makes similar anti-immigration arguments to those contained in the document, prompting worries of political fallout from the shooting among FAIR and similar groups, according to David Nakamura in The Washington Post. Both Stein and Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, which also advocates restrictions on immigration, dismissed any connections between Crusius' ideology and their own.
In response to the shooting, some 8chan users claimed that the shooter was "our guy". The purported manifesto of the shooter, after being deleted, was re-uploaded by some users, while others commented that it showed "zero effort", or claimed that it was fake. Following the attack, Cloudflare terminated its website security service for 8chan, commenting that "8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate". The site later went dark after its server rental provider Voxility discontinued its service.
Trump visited El Paso and Dayton on August 7. The president and first lady also met with the mayors of El Paso and Dayton. In El Paso, protesters showed up at the site of the shooting, some claiming that Trump's attitude and statements had led to the shooting; Two days before the visit, congresswoman Escobar said that Trump was "not welcome" in the city and declined an invitation to meet with him. The White House published photos and a video of Trump's trip; in some photos, Trump was pictured smiling and giving thumbs up gestures, while the video was focused on Trump shaking hands and posing for photos. Trump said that he had an "amazing day" of visits, praising the "love, the respect for" him as president.
Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador extended his condolences to the families of the victims, both Americans and Mexicans. López Obrador also criticized the "indiscriminate use of weapons" in the United States. The Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE) identified the eight Mexican citizens killed, and the seven Mexican citizens wounded, in the attack. The Mexican victims killed in the attack came from Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua City, and Torreón, Coahuila. One of the victims, identified only as "Rosa," who had also offered to testify, was deported on January 30, 2021, because of a minor traffic violation.
Javier Corral Jurado, the governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, offered his assistance to Texas governor Greg Abbott and El Paso mayor Dee Margo, and said that Chihuahua authorities were ready to assist in any capacity if needed by the U.S. government. The Chihuahua government also directed Chihuahua residents and Mexican citizens affected by the attack to Mexico's executive committee for Victims (Spanish: Comisión Ejecutiva de Atención a Víctimas), and set up a phone line for Mexican citizens who needed assistance. The Mexican Consulate in El Paso provided consular assistance to Mexican nationals affected by the attack, and sent personnel to visit Mexican victims treated at the hospitals. The SRE confirmed that the consul Mauricio Ibarra Ponce de León would coordinate with El Paso and Ciudad Juárez officials.
On August 4, Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard announced that Mexico would issue a formal charge against the suspect for terrorism against Mexican nationals should Mexico's Attorney General's Office (FGR) support it, and possibly request his extradition from the U.S. to Mexico to face those charges. If the suspect is charged with terrorism, it would be the first time in history that Mexico issues a criminal charge of this nature for a crime committed in the U.S. In addition, it would guarantee Mexico access to information about the case. Ebrard also stated that the Mexican government would remain in contact with the victims' families throughout the investigation and trial, and that they would press charges against the individual(s) or firm who sold the weapons to the suspect. Former Mexican president Felipe Calderón offered his condolences on Twitter, and also directed a message against Trump. He said that notwithstanding if the attack was confirmed to be a hate crime or not, that Trump should stop his "hate speech" and "stigmatization".
UN Secretary-General António Guterres condemned "in the strongest terms the terrorist attack against Latinos on Saturday in the Texas city of El Paso" and called for everyone to work together to combat violence born of hate, racism and xenophobia. Recently the UN launched an action plan to "fight against discourses that incite hatred".
The incident was mentioned by Pope Francis during a speech in St. Peter's Square on August 4, in which he condemned attacks on defenseless people and said he was spiritually close to the victims, the wounded, and the families affected by the attacks that had "bloodied Texas, California, and Ohio". The Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting happened in California around a week before the El Paso shooting, while the 2019 Dayton shooting occurred in Ohio less than 24 hours after.
Uruguay and Venezuela issued travel warnings to avoid certain cities in America, including Baltimore, Detroit, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Memphis, Oakland, and Buffalo and citing "proliferation of acts of violence" and "growing indiscriminate violence, mostly for hate crimes, including racism and discrimination". Both countries warned their citizens to avoid any place with large crowds, including shopping malls, festivals, and "any kind of cultural or sporting events". Japan issued a similar travel warning, advising its citizens to pay attention to the potential for gunfire "everywhere" in the U.S., which they described as a "gun society". President Trump threatened undefined retaliation against countries and organizations that issue travel warnings on the United States because of gun violence.
- Bærum mosque shooting
- Buffalo supermarket shooting, another racially-motivated mass shooting influenced by Christchurch
- Domestic terrorism in the United States
- Halle synagogue shooting
- List of mass shootings in the United States
- List of right-wing terrorist attacks
- List of shootings in Texas
- List of terrorist incidents in 2019
- Pittsburgh synagogue shooting
- Poway synagogue shooting
- Terrorism in the United States
- Twenty of the victims died on the day of the shooting, two others died in the following days, and the 23rd victim died on April 26, 2020.
- "The document parrots some of President Donald Trump's divisive rhetoric about immigration, but the writer said his views predate Trump's rise"
- "The manifesto's author said their anger toward immigrants predates Donald Trump's presidency, but the language used bears much similarity with the president's vocabulary."
- "[S]ome of the language included in the document parroted Trump's own words, characterizing Hispanic migrants as invaders taking American jobs and arguing to 'send them back'."
- "Portions of the 2,300-word essay, titled 'The Inconvenient Truth', closely mirror Trump's rhetoric, as well as the language of the white nationalist movement, including a warning about the 'Hispanic invasion of Texas'."
- "But if Mr. Trump did not originally inspire the gunman, he has brought into the mainstream polarizing ideas and people once consigned to the fringes of American society [...] Mr. Crusius described legal and illegal immigrants as 'invaders' who are flooding into the United States, a term Mr. Trump has frequently employed to argue for a border wall."
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Indeed, the gunman who killed 22 people at a Walmart store in El Paso on Aug. 3 pushed the total number of victims slain in domestic right-wing terrorism since 2002 to 109.
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But in another sense, if U.S. authorities confirm that the document was written by the 21-year-old white male suspected of committing the atrocity, then there was plenty of time—numerous years in which violence by far-right, white-supremacist extremists has emerged as arguably the premier domestic-terrorist threat in the United States.
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The threat of the 'great replacement,' or the idea that white people will be replaced by people of color, was cited directly in the four-page screed written by the man arrested in the killing of 22 people in El Paso over the weekend [...] The shooting in the immigrant-rich town of El Paso on Saturday was among the deadliest attacks in the United States motivated by white extremism since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people, according to the A.D.L.
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The shooting, however, brought white supremacy to El Paso's doorstep, forcing the city to confront anti-Latino racism and white supremacy that has always existed in the U.S.
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The deadliest attack to target Latinos in modern American history, the shooting in El Paso, a city that is 80 percent Hispanic, has deeply disturbed Latinos across the United States.
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...the Aug. 3 shooting in El Paso, the deadliest anti-Latino attack in modern American history
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[T]he massacre in El Paso was the deadliest anti-Latino attack in modern American history
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First Lady Melania Trump holds the two-month-old son of Jordan and Andre Anchondo, as she and President Donald J. Trump pose for photos and meet members of the Anchondo family Wednesday, August 7, 2019, at the University Medical Center of El Paso in El Paso, Texas. Jordan and Andre Anchondo were among the 22 people killed in a mass shooting Saturday at a Walmart in El Paso.
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