September 12, 2019 / 5:36 PM / 2 months ago

Grand jury indicts man accused of killing 22 people at Texas Walmart

(Reuters) - A Texas grand jury on Thursday indicted the man accused of killing 22 people and wounding 26 others in a shooting last month at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, who had told authorities he was targeting Mexicans, a local prosecutor said.

Patrick Crusius, 21, was indicted for capital murder and will face the death penalty if he is convicted, El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza said in a statement.

“The District Attorney’s Office will continue to work hard to ensure that justice is done and is committed to assisting the victims through the judicial process,” Esparza said.

Crusius is accused of driving 11 hours from his hometown of Allen, Texas, near Dallas, to El Paso on Aug. 3 and firing at shoppers with an AK47 rifle inside a Walmart store, after which he surrendered to officers who confronted him outside the store.

Crusius confessed while surrendering and told police he was targeting Mexicans, according to an El Paso police affidavit released days after the shooting.

Most of those killed were Hispanic.

A four-page statement believed to have been written by the suspect and posted on 8chan, an online message board often used by extremists, called the Walmart attack “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

After the indictment against Crusius was announced, Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a 14-page report detailing several recommendations on how to stop mass shootings in the state.

“Solving the problems that have led to these horrific events will take more than governmental action,” Abbott, a Republican, said in a statement. “It will require parents, families, churches, law enforcement, community groups, schools and others working together to fortify the social fabric of our society.”

The Texas killings were followed just 13 hours later by a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, where a gunman wearing body armour and a mask killed nine people in less than a minute and wounded 27 others in the city’s downtown historic district before he was shot dead by police.

The two massacres have reverberated across the political arena, with Democratic presidential candidates calling for stricter gun laws and accusing President Donald Trump of stoking anti-immigrant tensions.

The indictment against Crusius will not be available to the public until it has been filed by the District Clerk’s Office. By law, the clerk’s office has 10 days to file the indictment, a spokeswoman for Esparza said.

Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Leslie Adler

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