Patrick Crusius, the white man accused of killing 22 people and injuring about two dozen more in a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas last August, was charged with federal hate crimes.
CNN reports that the 21-year-old, who targeted Latinos in the August 3 massacre, has been charged with 90 counts under federal hate crime and firearms laws.
Federal prosecutors announced the charges against the Allen, Texas native at a news conference in El Paso on Thursday.
“People in our nation have the right to go to a store on a Saturday morning without fear that they will be shot and killed because of who they are, or where they’re from,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the DOJ Civil Rights Division said.
He added that hate crime charges signal to communities that have been harmed that “they are valued, that their protection matters, and then we will protect them and their rights.”
Before motioning his mass attack, Crusius shared a 2,300-word white supremacist manifesto titled “The Inconvenient Truth” that opposed “race mixing” and threatened immigrants to return “home” or face violence.
“This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” Crusius wrote. “They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by the invasion.”
The charges followed the six-month anniversary of the massacre. In El Paso, the community is still mourning the loss of those killed. The Cielo Vista Walmart reopened in November and now has a large memorial where passersby leave flowers and messages for the families of the victims.
While El Paso City Council member Cassandra Hernandez said the news helps El Pasoans heal, she stressed that attacks like the one that occurred in her district will continue across the country and world until white supremacy is addressed.
“The mass shooting our community endured is clearly a symptom of a much larger problem that the United States has to face fully. Execution or life imprisonment for a white supremacist will not stop ethnic cleansing in other Hispanic communities like El Paso. This heinous hate crime on the US-Mexico border is the definition of domestic terrorism invoked by white nationalism,” Hernandez told Al Jazeera.
If convicted, Crusius faces the death penalty or life in prison for the state capital murder charge to which he pleaded not guilty.