El Paso mass shooting suspect pleads not guilty in 22 deaths

There were 2,000 witnesses at the scene of the massacre

The 21-year-old man charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, pleaded not guilty Thursday during a brief initial hearing.

Police have said Patrick Crusius of Dallas confessed to the Aug. 3 mass shooting and that he targeted Mexicans. Some two-dozen people survived the attack with injuries, and two of them remain in the hospital, hospital officials said.

Crusius walked into the courtroom wearing a dark suit, white shirt and glasses. He was sworn in, waived the reading of his indictment and pleaded not guilty. The entire hearing lasted less than three minutes.

Around 80 members of the public crammed into the courtroom on the top floor of the El Paso County Courthouse to witness his first appearance. A handful wiped away tears as Crusius pronounced his plea.

Among the crowd was a delegation from the Mexican Consulate. Eight Mexican citizens were killed in the attack and most of the victims had Hispanic last names. Among the dead was a German citizen who lived in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

A bailiff had asked the court to remain quiet and warned against outbursts.

READ MORE: El Paso shooting victim, 25, ‘gave her life’ for son

Local prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty. Federal authorities are weighing capital murder and hate crime charges. The Department of Justice has called the shooting an act of domestic terrorism.

There were 2,000 witnesses at the scene of the massacre, so almost everybody in the city of about 700,000 knew somebody affected by the shooting.

The first judge assigned to the case recused herself because she knew one of the people killed in the attack. The lead prosecutor said his sister also was in the Walmart during the attack and that the gunman walked right by her.

Crusius fled the scene of the shooting in his car but turned himself in less than an hour later, according to police. His arrest warrant says he declared: “I’m the shooter.”

In documents filed Thursday, the El Paso prosecutor notified the court that he had shared evidence with the defence on Sept. 27. That evidence includes police and FBI interviews with Crusius, data from his cellphone, records from the Dallas-area schools he attended and tens of hours of footage captured by Walmart security cameras around the time of the shooting, according to court records.

It also includes the FBI’s “manifesto analysis” — a likely reference to a racist screed railing against an influx of Hispanics into the U.S. that authorities have said Crusius posted online before the shooting.

Crusius is being held without bond in an El Paso jail. He has been on suicide watch since shortly after his arrest and is separated from other prisoners.

Cedar Attanasio, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Morning Start: The Exorcist film set was haunted

Your morning start for Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020

Former Summerlander receives Emmy nomination for makeup work

Lucky Bromhead recognized for her work with Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek

Mural adds artistic flair to downtown Keremeos

A new, privately commissioned mural has received praise from residents

Morning Start: High heels were first designed for men

Your morning start for Monday, Aug. 10, 2020

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

Perseid meteor shower at peak on Aug. 11 and 12

Find place away from city lights for optimal viewing

Brain safety top of mind for North Okanagan kids

Bylaw officers noticing a number of youth out riding bikes, scooters, skateboards without helmets

Lawsuit launched after Florida child handcuffed, booked and briefly jailed

Suit alleges “deliberate indifference” to what should have been handled as a behavioural issue

Russia approves vaccine, Putin hopes to begin mass production

Critic calls decision to proceed without thorough testing ‘dangerous and grossly immoral’

UPDATE: House fire spreads to nearby bush in North Okanagan

Small blaze burning near Vernon in Six Mile area

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

Summerland begins reopening aquatic centre

First phase of reopening planned for Sept. 8

Doctor slain in Alberta medical clinic was devoted father, husband

Red Deer doctors on edge after attack on colleague who had two young daughters

Most Read