El Paso Walmart mass shooting suspect to face new charges
The man accused of killing 22 people and wounding two dozen more at a Walmart in Texas last year is expected to be re-indicted Thursday as he faces another murder charge in the mass shooting that targeted Mexicans, prosecutors said.
Patrick Crusius of Allen, Texas, is currently being held without bond on one count of capital murder of multiple people under Texas state law. The 21-year-old has also been charged with several federal hate crimes related to the shooting, according to a 90-count indictment unsealed in February.
Dist. Atty. Jaime Esparza said the new murder charge would account for 36-year-old Guillermo “Memo” Garcia, who died nine months after the Aug. 3 massacre in the Texas border town of El Paso, which is majority Latino. The mass shooting is considered one of the deadliest attacks on Latinos in recent U.S. history.
Esparza said Crusius would also face more counts in relation to the dozens of people injured in the shooting. The new charges will be added to the indictment prior to the grand jury’s term ending on June 30, Esparza said.
“We’re re-indicting the defendant to include the additional death and to include all of those injured in the Walmart shooting in order to give the next DA all of their options,” Esparza added. “We just want to cover all our bases.”
The upcoming re-indictment comes more than 10 months after an attack that federal prosecutors say was sparked by militant racism. They have said that Crusius carried out the shooting to scare Latinos into leaving the U.S., a plot they allege he outlined in a racist screed published online before the attack.
Can back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, move a nation enthralled by firearms and violence to do something? Don’t count on it.
More than 20 people suffered from injuries in the shooting. Some underwent surgery, and one remains in the hospital. Hundreds more have suffered psychological trauma either because they were present or because a loved one was wounded, according to local officials.
Esparza, who is set to retire after 28 years in office, said he hoped that the added charges would help provide continuity in the case and eventually lead to justice should the DA succeeding him decide to pursue the state case against Crusius.
Voters will pick a new DA in a July 14 runoff election. It’s one of several factors that will help answer some legal and financial questions, including the trial’s start date and location.
The U.S. Department of Justice will prosecute on a parallel track with Texas officials. Crusius already faces the death penalty on a state capital murder charge to which he pleaded not guilty last year.
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