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Guilty Plea Expected In 2019 El Paso Walmart Shooting That Killed 23

From inside a Texas Walmart in 2019 during one of the nation's deadliest mass shootings, Adria Gonzalez heard the gunman shout epithets against Mexicans as she helped panicked shoppers toward the exits. Patrick Crusius is expected to plead guilty in an El Paso courtroom to federal hate crime and firearms charges for the killing of 23 people on Wednesday, reports the Associated Press. Gonzalez is angry federal prosecutors won’t seek the death penalty over a racist attack that was preceded by the shooter posting an online screed that warned of a “Hispanic invasion” of Texas. The expected guilty plea would amount to the first conviction in a case that has dragged on more than three years. Crusius could still face the death penalty over separate state charges. From campaign stumps to hearings in Congress, Republicans have described high numbers of migrant crossings into the U.S. as an invasion threatening public safety and overwhelming border communities. The issue flared Tuesday during a hearing on border security in the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, where Democrats accused the GOP of fanning rhetoric against migrants. Republicans pushed back. “For my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who want to state that we’re using this hearing for white nationalism, I’m not doing that,” said Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL),, who is Black.

The Aug. 3, 2019, shooting happened on a busy weekend at a Walmart that is popular with shoppers from Mexico and the U.S. In addition to those killed, more than two dozen were injured and hundreds more were scarred by being present or having a loved-one hurt. Many of the dead and wounded were citizens of Mexico. Crusius, 24, surrendered to police, saying, “I’m the shooter,” and that he was targeting Mexicans. Prosecutors have said he drove more than 10 hours from his hometown near Dallas to the largely-Latino border city and published a document online shortly before the shooting that said it was “in response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Shortly after the shooting, Gov. Greg Abbott came under criticism over a fundraising mailer dated the day before the attack that called on his supporters to “defend Texas” from immigrants entering the U.S. illegally. Abbott has more recently embraced using the word “invasion” while authorizing hard-line immigration measures, including a letter to state police and the Texas National Guard in November with the subject line “Defend Texas Against Invasion.” Abbott has defended his statements by saying he is invoking language from the U.S. Constitution.


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