El Paso Walmart shooter may face domestic terrorism, hate-crime charges

El Paso Walmart shooter may face domestic terrorism, hate-crime charges

HOUSTON: A 21-year-old man charged with capital murder for killing 20 people in a mass shooting at a crowded Walmart store in Texas may face additional charges of domestic terrorism and hate-crime as investigators probe his suspected anti-immigrant screed posted online shortly before the attack.

Patrick Crusius was booked into the El Paso County Jail early Sunday morning on a charge of capital murder.

He is accused of walking into the Walmart store in El Paso on Saturday and targeting customers and employees, leaving 20 dead and another 27 injured.

El Paso district attorney Jaime Esparza announced that his office will seek the death penalty against Crusius.

As law enforcement continues to investigate the shooting and motive, Crusius could face additional federal charges.

John Bash, US Attorney for the Western District of Texas, said his office will pursue the option of charging Crusius with domestic terrorism and a federal firearm charge. Such federal charges would be separate from the capital murder charge filed by local prosecutors.

The Justice Department also is considering federal hate-crime charges that would carry the death penalty.

“Federal prosecutors have a view toward bringing federal hate crime and firearm charges against Crusius,” Bash said.

Bash said authorities are treating the shooting, which “appears to be designed to intimidate a civilian population,” as a case of domestic terrorism.

“We’re going to do what we do to terrorists in this country, which is to deliver swift and certain justice,” Bash said.

El Paso Police Sgt Robert Gomez told reporters Sunday evening that the suspect had been cooperating with investigators.

The El Paso police chief said authorities are examining what he called a “manifesto” that they believe was written by the shooter and shows a possible “nexus” to a hate crime.

The four-page document shared widely online contains anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric, advocates a plan to divide the nation into territories by race and warns of an impending yet unspecified attack.

Authorities have not released the identities of the victims. Investigators are still in the process of identifying them and notifying next of kin, Gomez said.

Less than 24 hours after the El Paso attack, a gunman in body armour opened fire at a Ohio outdoor entertainment district, killing at least nine people before he was fatally shot by police.

Connor Betts, 24, was identified as the gunman in body armor, who opened fire in Ohio.

Betts was killed by police less than a minute after he started shooting a .223-caliber rifle into the streets of the Oregon District around 1 am Sunday.

According to the officials, Connor was studying psychology at a local community college and working at a Chipotle restaurant. In an online profile, Betts reportedly described himself as “Good under pressure. Fast learner. Eager to overachieve”.

Betts’s sister was among the nine fatalities, local officials said. Police have yet to announce a motive behind the crime.

The gunman carried extra high-capacity magazines, apparently planning for an extended rampage, but several officers were nearby and responded quickly, officials said.

Police Lt Col Matt Carper said it is too early in the investigation to determine whether the gunman was targeting anyone or any place specifically.

Authorities said four women and five men were killed in the attack. The youngest was 22, the oldest 57.PTI

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