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.

Just Posted

PQB crime report: Thieves pilfer cash, root beer and hand sanitizer

Oceanside RCMP receive 249 complaints in one-week period

Solutions in sight for Parksville Qualicum Beach doctor shortage

With feasibility study funded, group shares vision of ‘campus of healthcare’

Raise the curtains: New outdoor theatre coming to Parksville

A $204,000 boost comes from Island Coastal Economic Trust

‘Handmade for Hope’ will run at Orca Place in Parksville

Grant received; program will run in different room

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Brain injury from domestic abuse a ‘public health crisis,’ says B.C. researcher

Nearly 80% of the domestic violence victims who reported to police last year were women

Most Read