Officials will pursue death penalty for suspected El Paso gunman
The 21-year-old man accused of killing 22 people in El Paso in an attack that police say targeted Mexicans chose the border city, in part, because he wanted to stay far away from his hometown of Allen, CNN reported Friday.
Patrick Crusius reportedly told investigators he feared if he committed the attack near the Dallas suburb, his family and acquaintances would learn he was the perpetrator. CNN cited three anonymous sources with knowledge of the investigation in its report, but noted El Paso police wouldn’t comment on their accounts.
The revelation comes as authorities seek federal domestic terrorism charges against Crusius and push for the death penalty. It’s one several findings that have emerged in the wake of the mass shooting, as investigators have tried to piece together a complete picture of the grim events.
Crusius confessed to officers when he surrendered, police said, and he later said he’d been targeting Mexicans specifically.
About 20 minutes before the attack, carried out at a Walmart in El Paso, a message was posted to the online message board 8chan decrying an “invasion” of Hispanics coming through the Southern border. Investigators believe Crusius is the author.
Crusius only chose the Walmart, El Paso police said, after getting lost in a neighborhood and deciding to stop at the superstore because “he was hungry.”
Although Gov. Greg Abbott said there were “no red flags” with Crusius, attorneys representing him said his mother contacted police weeks before the shooting to express concern he had a rifle. She was only seeking information, they said, and wasn’t worried he was a threat.
Abbott, speaking in El Paso, denounced the attack as domestic terrorism and indicated the state is going to be taking steps to ensure an attack like this couldn’t happen again. That includes implementing strategies to root out hateful speech online, as well as gun reform that can keep guns away from “deranged killers” while ensuring “constitutional rights are not going to be violated.”
Texans of Hispanic heritage with connections to the DFW area and El Paso have said the attack has left them feeling afraid to go into public spaces.