The suspect in a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso has been linked to an online manifesto that rants against the “Hispanic invasion” of Texas.
Texas authorities were investigating Saturday’s rampage as a possible hate crime, the city’s police chief said.
A 21-year-old from Allen, a suburb of Dallas, surrendered to police outside the store after the rampage that left 20 people dead and 26 wounded. US media identified him as Patrick Crusius, who is white.
“Right now we have a manifesto from this individual that indicates to some degree he has a nexus to potential hate crime,” El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said at a news conference.
El Paso, a nine-hour drive from the Dallas area, lies on the Rio Grande River that marks the US border with Mexico. It has a population of 680,000, of which 83 percent are of Hispanic descent, according to US census figures.
In recent months El Paso has also become one of the busiest entry points for undocumented migrants, especially from Central America, seeking asylum in the United States.
On a weekend the city attracts droves of shoppers from Mexico, including from its Mexican sister city Ciudad Juarez, population 1.5 million.
Three of those killed came from Mexico, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador tweeted. And there are six Mexicans among the wounded, the country’s foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard said.
Crusius wrote that the attack “is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” and made references to the Christchurch shootings in New Zealand, where a white gunman killed 51 mosque worshipers in March.
Crusius claimed that he was “defending” his country “from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.”
He added: “If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can be more sustainable.”
Patrick Crusius has been identified as the 21-year-old suspect in the shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that left at least 18 people dead. Crusius is from Dallas: https://t.co/XVEKPEZ8tL #breaking pic.twitter.com/kTylIhCqYn
— Heavy.com (@HeavySan) August 3, 2019
He also complained that the AK-47 rifle that he chose was “not designed to shoot rounds quickly, so it overheats massively after about 100 shots are fired in quick succession.”
To counter this he said he’d wear a heat-resistant glove.
Crusius wrote that he probably spent less than a month preparing for the shooting. “I have to do this before I lose my nerve,” he noted.
Oddly, the document includes a rant against automation and corporate America.
“The inconvenient truth is that our leaders, both Democrat AND Republican, have been failing us for decades,” the document read.
He then describes his death as “likely inevitable.”
“If I’m not killed by the police, then I’ll probably be gunned down by one of the invaders.
“Capture in this case is far worse than dying during the shooting because I’ll get the death penalty anyway,” he wrote.
El Paso police said there was no exchange of gunfire when Crusius was detained.
CNN said the “manifesto” was posted to 8chan, a no-censorship site where other extremist manifestos have appeared.
Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, also said the El Paso shooting suspect wasn’t on her group’s radar screen prior to the shooting. “We had nothing in our files on him,” she wrote in an email. “Scary how young these shooters have been. Almost too young to even build a footprint in the radical right.”
US President Donald Trump condemned the shooting as an act cowardice, saying there could be no justification for the killing of innocent people.
“Today’s shooting in El Paso, Texas was not only tragic, it was an act of cowardice,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “I know that I stand with everyone in this Country to condemn today’s hateful act. There are no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing innocent people.”
Meanwhile Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke, who is from El Paso, accused Trump of inciting hatred.
Speaking to reporters outside a hospital where he was visiting victims of the shooting, O’Rourke said Trump had proven himself a racist with his recent attacks on four ethnic minority congresswomen and his past branding of Mexicans as rapists.
“He is a racist and he stokes racism in this country. And it does not just offend our sensibilities, it fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence,” said O’Rourke, who represented El Paso in the US Congress until recently.
“We’ve had a rise in hate crimes every single one of the last three years during an administration where you have a president who’s called Mexicans rapists and criminals.”
Asked if any of the contents of the manifesto should “fall at the feet” of Trump, O’Rourke replied: “Yes.”
“There are still details that we are waiting on but I’m just following the lead that I’ve heard from the El Paso police department where they say there are strong indications that this shooter wrote that manifesto and that this was inspired by his hatred of people here in this community.”
Trump has faced growing accusations of racism since he attacked the four left-leaning lawmakers last month in a series of tweets, saying they should “go back” to their countries of origin. The president insists he hasn’t “a racist bone” in his body.