A young white nationalist who shot and killed 23 people at a supermarket in the majority-Hispanic Texas city of El Paso in 2019 was sentenced to 90 consecutive life terms in prison on Friday.
Patrick Crusius, 24, pleaded guilty in February to federal hate crimes charges in connection with the August 3, 2019 mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart.
Crusius still faces trial at the state level in Texas, which has not ruled out seeking the death penalty.
“No one in this country should have to live in fear of hate-fueled violence — that they will be targeted because of what they look like or where they are from,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
“The 90 consecutive life sentences announced today guarantee that Patrick Crusius will spend the rest of his life in prison for his deadly, racist rampage in El Paso,” Garland said.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke described the shooting as “one of the most horrific acts of white nationalist-driven violence in modern times.”
Crusius drove some 660 miles (1,060 kilometers) from Allen, Texas, near Dallas to the Walmart Supercenter in El Paso with an AK-47-style assault rifle and 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
He opened fire on people in the supermarket parking lot, killing 23 and wounding 22.
According to the federal indictment, Crusius uploaded a document to the internet before the shooting titled “The Inconvenient Truth” in which he said the attack was “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
In the tract, he said he was “defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement,” referring to a concept by white supremacists claiming other ethnic groups are “replacing” them in the population.
Crusius said he chose the border city of El Paso as his target to dissuade Hispanic immigrants from coming to the United States.
When police showed up Crusius got out of his car and identified himself as the shooter. While in custody he told police he wanted to kill “Mexicans.”
The massacre ignited a debate on how then-president Donald Trump’s repeated criticism of immigrants influenced the behavior of people who supported him.
Crusius’s attack was one of the deadliest mass shootings in US history.
It came two years after a gunman killed 58 people at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas and three years after a man murdered 49 at an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida.