Updated: Jul 10
Patrick Crusius, a white gunman who killed 23 people in a racist attack on Hispanic shoppers at a Walmart in El Paso, Tex., was sentenced to 90 consecutive life sentences but could still face more punishment, including the death penalty. Crusius, 24, pleaded guilty to nearly 50 federal hate crime charges in the 2019 mass shooting, making it one of the U.S. government’s largest hate crime cases, reports the Associated Press. U.S. District Judge David Guaderrama recommended that Crusius serve his sentence at a maximum security prison in Colorado and receive treatment and counseling for a severe mental health condition.
Crusius still faces a separate trial in a Texas court that could end with him getting the death penalty for carrying out one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. As Crusius was led from the courtroom on Friday, the son of one of the victims shouted from the gallery. “We’ll be seeing you again, coward,” yelled Dean Reckard, whose mother, Margie, was slain in the attack. “No apologies, no nothing.” Police say Crusius drove more than 700 miles from his home near Dallas to target Hispanics with an AK-style rifle. Moments before the attack, Crusius posted a racist screed online that warned of a Hispanic “invasion” of Texas. Republicans have described migrants crossing the southern U.S. border as an “invasion,” waving off critics who say the rhetoric fuels anti-immigrant views and violence. In the federal case, Crusius received a life sentence for each of the 90 charges, half of which were classified as hate crimes. Joe Spencer, Crusius’ attorney, told the judge his client has a “broken brain.” He said Crusius had arrived in El Paso without a specific target in mind before winding up at the Walmart. “Patrick’s thinking is at odds with reality … resulting in delusional thinking,” Spencer said. The sentencing followed two days of impact statements from relatives of victims. In addition to the dead, more than two dozen people were injured and numerous others were severely traumatized as they hid or fled.