July 13, 2020 / 11:27 PM / 24 days ago

Accused El Paso shooter had mental disabilities, lawyers say

FILE PHOTO: Alleged Walmart mass shooter Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old male from Allen, Texas is arraigned, in El Paso, Texas, U.S. October 10, 2019. Mark Lambie/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

(Reuters) - A man charged with an anti-Hispanic attack at a Texas Walmart in 2019 that killed 23 people had mental disabilities that should raise a “red flag” to prosecutors seeking the death sentence, according to his lawyers.

Patrick Crusius, 21, was diagnosed with severe, lifelong neurological and mental disabilities and was in special education for much of his schooling, according to a filing by his court-appointed attorneys.

Crusius pleaded not guilty in February to 90 federal hate crime charges after he was accused of deliberately targeting people of Mexican heritage in the shooting rampage.

His attorneys David Lane and Rebecca Hudsmith made the filing on the question of whether the death penalty should be sought.

He is accused of driving 11 hours to El Paso from his hometown of Allen, near Dallas, on Aug. 3, 2019, and firing at shoppers with an AK-47 rifle inside the Walmart store. He surrendered to officers who confronted him outside.

When he was taken into police custody minutes after the shooting, Crusius was in a psychotic state and treated with anti-psychotic medication, according to mental health professionals employed by the jail, the July 11 filing said.

A manifesto that prosecutors say was posted online by Crusius on 8chan, a now-defunct message board often used by extremists, said the Walmart attack was “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

Reporting By Julio-César Chávez; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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