Editor’s note: This story contains explicit language.
EL PASO — Patrick Wood Crusius is scheduled to be sentenced to life in prison in federal court in the coming days, nearly four years after he drove from a Dallas suburb to El Paso and opened fire at a busy Walmart — where he said he “wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible” — killing 23 people.
The 24-year-old Allen resident has been in custody since the Aug. 3, 2019, shooting and pleaded guilty earlier this year. As part of a plea agreement, he is expected to be sentenced to 90 consecutive life sentences after the U.S. Department of Justice decided not to seek the death penalty.
The 23 victims who died and 22 other people injured were mostly Mexican Americans and Mexican nationals from El Paso and Ciudad Juárez. It is common for residents of both cities to travel daily back and forth for work, school, visiting family and shopping.
A federal superseding indictment issued on July 9, 2020, charged the gunman with 90 counts, including hate crime resulting in death, hate crime involving attempt to kill and use of a firearm to commit murder.
According to that indictment, the gunman uploaded to the internet a document he wrote titled “The Inconvenient Truth,” in which he explained why he committed the shooting: “This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by the invasion.”
Before and after the mass shooting in El Paso, some Texas politicians have described the growing number of migrants arriving at the Texas-Mexico border — many of them asylum-seekers fleeing violence and harsh poverty in Central and South America — as an “invasion.” The “ethnic replacement” the gunman wrote about in the documents comes from a debunked conspiracy theory that people of color and immigrants are looking to replace white Americans.
Crusius still faces state charges in the shooting. State prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
The sentencing phase of the federal case started at 9 a.m. local time Wednesday in U.S. District Judge David C. Guaderrama’s courtroom.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the gunman heard from more than 30 relatives of people he killed. Some of the relatives’ statements were read on their behalf by prosecutors. Some of them referred to the shooter as an “evil parasite” and a “monster.” Some wished him to rot in his prison cell.
The gunman, who was sitting next to his team of lawyers, was shackled, wearing a navy blue jail jumpsuit and thin-rimmed glasses. As some victims’ relatives addressed him, the gunman, who has long, wavy brown hair, nodded his head back and forth.
Sentencing has been scheduled for 10 a.m. local time Friday. The gunman is not expected to make a statement.