A gunman who confessed to targeting people of Mexican descent in a mass shooting at a Texas Walmart that left 22 people dead pleaded guilty Wednesday to dozens of hate crimes, federal authorities said.
Patrick Crusius, 24, entered the plea after federal prosecutors said last month that they would not seek the death penalty in the Aug. 3, 2019, rampage in El Paso.
He pleaded guilty to 23 counts of hate crimes that resulted in death and 22 hate crimes that caused great bodily injury and involved an attempt to kill, the Department of Justice said in a news release.
He also admitted to 45 gun crime violations, the release said. As part of his plea agreement, he agreed to a prison term of 90 consecutive life sentences, one for each count in the indictment, according to the release.
“White nationalist-fueled violence has no place in our society today,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement. "This senseless massacre violates the law, runs contrary to our values as Americans and defies the principles of tolerance and inclusion that define us as a nation."
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Joe Spencer, a lawyer for Crusius, said Wednesday that his client “has been trying to accept responsibility” since the shooting and is “glad he was finally able to do so.”
“There are no winners when he gets 90 consecutive life sentences where he will die in prison after a lifetime of punishment and incarceration dealing with his mental illness,” Spencer said.
In charging documents, federal authorities said the shooter posted a document online prior to the massacre that described the attack as a response to a "Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
In the document, he described himself as a white nationalist and said he targeted El Paso, a border city, to deter migrants from coming to the United States, according to Wednesday's news release.
The charging documents say he bought the gun used in the shooting — a rifle described by state authorities as an AK-47 — less than two months before he opened fire.
The gunman also bought 1,000 rounds of ammunition and drove from a relative's home in Allen, more than 650 miles east of El Paso, according to the documents.
A sentencing date has not yet been set, the Justice Department said.