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World & Nation

Suspect in El Paso massacre ‘didn’t hold anything back’ in police interrogation

El Paso shooting described as hate crime by Texas governor
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The suspect in the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso “didn’t hold anything back” when he was interviewed by investigators, the city’s police chief said Sunday.

Greg Allen also said “it’s beginning to look more solidly” that the suspect was the author of a manifesto, posted to the website 8chan about an hour and a half before the rampage began, that warns of an “invasion” of Latino immigrants and expresses support for the man who killed worshipers at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March.

Although authorities still have not formally identified the suspect, his name has been widely reported as Patrick Crusius, 21. El Paso jail records show a Patrick Crusius was booked Sunday on state charges of capital murder.

Allen did not elaborate on what the suspect told authorities.

Jaime Esparza, the El Paso district attorney, says he will seek the death penalty for the state murder charges. John F. Bash, the U.S. attorney for the western district of Texas, said he was considering bringing federal hate crime and firearms charges. Bash said he was treating the attack as an act of domestic terrorism.

“It appears to be designed to intimidate a civilian population, to say the least,” he said.

The online manifesto was posted to 8chan, a message board popular on the far right, by an anonymous user who uploaded another document under the file name “P._Crusius.” That file was taken down, and it was not clear what it contained. A Twitter account that appeared to belong to Crusius was shut down Saturday evening. Tweets on the account had praised President Trump and, in particular, his effort to build a wall along the U.S.- Mexico border.

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Television coverage Saturday showed police swarming a house identified as that of Crusius in Allen, a mostly white suburb of Dallas about 650 miles east of El Paso.

Crusius graduated from Plano Senior High School in 2017 and attended Collin College, a community college in nearby McKinney, from fall 2017 to spring 2019, the college said in a statement.

Leigh Ann Locascio, a former neighbor, said Crusius was an extreme loner who always sat alone on the bus in junior high and high school. He spoke negatively of other kids who played sports or joined the school band, she said.

She described Crusius as “very much a loner, very standoffish” and someone who “didn’t interact a whole lot with anyone.”

Her son, Tony Locascio, walked to school regularly with Crusius and his sister. Tony Locascio said Patrick Crusius only walked ahead of or behind them, never interacting and always keeping to himself. Crusius liked animals and kept pet snakes. “He wouldn’t talk to people,” Tony Locascio said. “No one really knew him.”

Another former classmate, Jacob Wilson, said Crusius was “very strong-minded” in class and would try to “take charge,” but other kids refused to work with him because he was “irritable and had a short temper.” He was often “picked on” because of how he spoke, and because he wore what looked like hand-me-down clothes, Wilson said.

Wilson, who is now 20 and works in his family’s scrap-metal recycling business, said he was in English class with Crusius during their senior year, and the taunts from other kids during class seemed relentless. “Every time I looked up in class,” Wilson said, “it was someone new speaking negatively to the kid, ‘Patrick that is dumb, stupid.’”

Local police said they’d seen no indications in the past that Crusius might undertake the type of crimes that the suspect in El Paso is accused of committing. He was reported as a runaway at 16, but the person who reported him missing called back 30 minutes later to say he’d returned home, according to Sgt. Jon Felty.

In a LinkedIn profile that has since been removed, Crusius styled himself as aimless but nursing a mild interest in software development. While he worked as a bagger in a local supermarket, “working in general sucks,” he wrote in the profile, adding that he is “not really motivated to do anything more than what’s necessary to get by.” The supermarket referred questions to a spokeswoman, who had no immediate comment.

The author of the manifesto linked to Crusius calls automation “one of the biggest issues of our times,” and warns of “civil unrest as people lose their jobs.” Immigrants, the author claims, are taking from native-born Americans a growing share of a dwindling number of jobs.

“The cost of college degrees has exploded as their value has plummeted,” the document says. “This has led to a generation of indebted, overqualified students filling menial, low paying and unfulfilling jobs.”

Patrick Crusius in the 2017 Plano High School yearbook.
(Plano High School)

Daniel Heo of Plano, Texas, told The Times that he attended elementary school with Crusius and remembered playing basketball and soccer with him during recess. They attended kindergarten together at Beverly Elementary School in Plano, another Dallas suburb, according to Heo, 20.

Heo said he fell out of touch with Crusius after elementary school. It wasn’t until Saturday, when he received a text message from his friend about the shooting and how Crusius was a suspect, that Heo remembered him.

“I’m shocked,” Heo said. “I remember him being a nice kid.”

The manifesto’s author professed to have no intention of surviving a planned assault on a “low security” target, claiming, “I’m not going to surrender even if I run out of ammo. If I’m captured, it will be because I was subdued somehow.”

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Allen, the El Paso police chief, said the gunman surrendered to police, who did not fire a shot. Under questioning, Allen said, “he basically didn’t hold anything back.”

Twelve hours after the carnage in El Paso and 1,500 miles away, another gunman opened fire in Dayton, Ohio, with a high-powered rifle, killing nine people in a part of the city known for its nightlife. Wearing body armor and carrying high-capacity magazines, the gunman killed his sister and eight others before being fatally shot by police, said Richard Biehl, Dayton’s police chief. Authorities identified the slain gunman as Connor Betts, 24.

People who knew him described a troubled man who harbored violent fantasies.

Maison Gallimore, who went to middle and high school with Betts, said she last heard from him a few months ago, when he asked her out for drinks over Instagram. “Something told me it wasn’t a good idea,” she said. She didn’t reply.

Gallimore, 24, said Betts was kind at times and frightening at others. When the two were in eighth-grade drama club, she said, “I had to go to the teacher because he would ‘jokingly’ tell girls he was going to kill them.

“As soon as someone told me we knew who the shooter was, he was the first person that popped in my head because of the threats he made in the past,” she added.

Cody Metcalfe, another high school classmate, said Betts was suspended when he was a sophomore after being caught with a list of people he wanted to rape and kill.

“Clearly he had mental health issues,” Metcalfe said. “After that, a lot of people wouldn’t even look at him. Nothing was ever really done about what happened then, and now look what happens.”

 
Reporter Melissa Etehad is an Iranian American who enjoys writing about national and international issues. She received her master’s in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s in international affairs from UC San Diego and has reported from the Middle East and Europe. She previously worked at Al Jazeera English and the Washington Post’s foreign desk, where she covered the intersections of politics, religion and gender. She’s a native Farsi speaker. On her free time, you can probably find Etehad petting dogs and reading the news.
 
Matthew Ormseth is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Before joining The Times in 2018, he covered city news and state politics at the Hartford Courant. He grew up in Arcadia and graduated from Cornell University.
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