About 20 minutes before the shooting started at an El Paso Walmart, a rambling screed was posted to an online message board saying the massacre was in response to an “invasion” of Hispanics coming across the southern border.
Titled “The Inconvenient Truth,” it railed against the dangers of mass immigration and warned that Hispanics will eventually take over the economy and government. The writer argued that attacking “low-security” targets was a way to “fight to reclaim my country from destruction.”
Investigators increasingly believe these are the words of 21-year-old suspect Patrick Crusius, who surrendered shortly after Saturday’s rampage, and they are looking closely at the writing as they consider whether to prosecute the slaughter of 20 people and the wounding of 26 more as a hate crime.
“We have to attribute that manifesto directly to him,” El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said Sunday at a news conference. “And so we’re going down that road.”
What remains a mystery is why Crusius chose El Paso, which has figured prominently in the immigration debate, and a shopping complex just five miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. The scene was a 10-hour drive and a world away from the life he lived growing up in a leafy, upper-middle-class suburb of Dallas.
Security video showed a skinny young man marching through the front door of the Walmart in a black T-shirt and khaki pants, carrying an AK-47 military-style rifle with an extended capacity magazine. Witnesses say he went aisle by aisle through a store packed with people stocking up on back-to-school supplies. The dead included at least three Mexican citizens and a 25-year-old mother of three who was shot while holding her 2-month-old baby.
The first sentence of the online rant posted on the 8chan message board expressed support for the man accused of killing 51 people at two New Zealand mosques in March after posting a 74-page document promoting a white supremacist conspiracy theory called “the great replacement.” That theory, promoted by French writer Renaud Camus, argues there is a plot by elites to replace whites with non-white immigrants in Europe and around the world.