Patrick Crusius showed no emotion as a judge sentenced him to 90 consecutive life terms after he pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges. Federal prosecutors withdrew the death penalty in exchange for a guilty plea. However, Crusius may still get sentenced to death if found guilty in an upcoming murder trial in state court. “We will be pursuing the death penalty,” said Bill Hicks, El Paso’s district attorney. 

Patrick Crusius is white; his crimes were motivated by racism

Patrick Crusius was born to white parents, John and Lori Crusius, in Dallas, Texas. He grew up alongside an older brother and his twin sister, Emily. 

Growing up, Crusius saw the racial demographic in Collin County, Dallas, shift from predominantly white to multiethnic. From 2000 to 2018, the white non-Hispanic population plummeted from 77% to 56%. Meanwhile, the Hispanic population tripled. 

It’s unclear when Crusius started developing his hatred towards immigrants, specifically those of Hispanic descent. A report by the Washington Post said Spanish-speaking students bullied him in high school. Crusius was also exposed to racist rhetoric in Collin County and on internet platforms like 8chan.

Minutes before he started shooting people of Hispanic heritage in a crowded shopping center in El Paso, Crusius uploaded a manifesto, echoing ‘the great replacement’ theory trumpeted by white supremacists: that immigrants are replacing white people in America. “This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” Crusius wrote. 

“Not speaking about this particular instance, which is still under investigation, the manifesto narrative is fueled by hate, and it is fueled by racism and bigotry and division,” Congresswoman Veronica Escobar said. Armed with an assault weapon, Crusius drove for ten hours overnight from Allen, Texas, to El Paso, a Latino-majority city, where he killed 23 people. 

Several victims giving impact statements mocked Crisius’ manifesto, saying he had failed miserably in his attempt to eliminate America’s Hispanic population. “You failed,” Amaris Vega, who lost an aunt in the attack, said. “We are still here and we are not going anywhere. And for four years you have been stuck in a city full of Hispanics. So let that sink in.”

Crusius’ family distanced themselves from him, saying his actions ‘were apparently influenced and informed by people we do not know, and from ideas and beliefs we do not accept or condone in any way’. The statement continued:

“He was raised in a family that taught love, kindness, respect, and tolerance – rejecting all forms of racism, prejudice, hatred, and violence. There will never be a moment for the rest of our lives when we will forget each and every victim of this senseless tragedy.”

Crusius’ mother, Lori, reportedly called the police after he purchased the murder weapon. She was concerned about the legality of his son’s ownership of the rifle, given his age, maturity, and inexperience with guns. A public safety officer allegedly told Lori that the law permitted Crusius to own a weapon. A month after the call, the El Paso shooting occurred. 

“We also know that the destruction Patrick did is not limited to the victims and their families,” the family said. “It touches the entire El Paso and Ciudad Juarez communities, the State of Texas and this country.”