Patrick Crusius, 24, is set to receive multiple life sentences after pleading guilty to federal hate crime and weapons charges in one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. Although the federal government did not seek the death penalty, Texas prosecutors have not taken lethal injection off the table under a separate case in state court.
Investigators say the shooting was preceded by Crusius posting a racist screed online.
The sentencing phase could last several days. It is the first time that relatives of the victims, who included citizens of Mexico, will have an opportunity to address Crusius face-to-face in court.
Some things to know about the shooting and the case:
WHO IS PATRICK CRUSIUS?
Crusius was 21 years old when authorities say he drove more than 10 hours from his home in an upper-class Dallas suburb to El Paso and opened fire.
The son of a licensed therapist and nurse, Crusius had been enrolled as a student at Collin College, near Dallas, and had no criminal convictions before the shooting. On social media, Crusius appeared consumed by the nation’s immigration debate, tweeting #BuildtheWall and posts that praised then-President Donald Trump’s hardline border policies.
His views went further in a document posted to an online message board about 20 minutes before the massacre in which he said the shooting was “in response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
In American politics, Republicans have continued using the word “invasion” to describe migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, waving off critics who say the rhetoric fuels anti-immigrant views and violence.
Prosecutors say the Aug. 3, 2019, attack began in the parking lot on a busy weekend at a Walmart that is popular with shoppers from both Mexico and the U.S. Approaching the store, Crusius shot participants in a fundraiser for a girls’ soccer team.