By Chuck Ross
Federal prosecutors are treating Saturday’s shooting in El Paso, Texas, which left 20 people dead, as an act of domestic terrorism and possible hate crime that could carry the death penalty.
“We’re also treating it as a domestic terrorism case, and we’re going to do what we do to terrorists in this country, which is deliver swift and certain justice,” John Bash, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, said at a press conference Sunday.
Bash said the shooting meets the statutory definition of domestic terrorism in that “it appears to be designed to intimidate a civilian population, to say the least.”
Bash said that after consulting with Attorney General William Barr, federal investigators are conducting the investigation “with a view towards bringing federal hate crimes charges … and federal firearms charges, which carry a penalty of death.”
“We are seriously considering those charges. We’re going to conduct a methodical and careful investigation with a view towards those charges,” said Bash.
Barr announced on July 25 that the Justice Department will resume executions for federal death penalty cases. He scheduled five executions to take place in December and January, including one for a white supremacist convicted in 1999 of murdering a family of three.
State authorities have already filed capital murder charges against the alleged shooter, Patrick Crusius.
Investigators are reportedly looking into a manifesto that Crusius, 21, may have posted online shortly before the shooting. The four-page screed rails against Hispanic immigration into the U.S. and espouses white nationalist ideology.
Crusius, who is white, is believed to have driven more than nine hours from his home in Allen, Texas, which is north of Dallas, to carry out the massacre.
Video footage shows the gunman entering a Walmart at around 11 a.m. Saturday armed with a rifle and wearing ear protectors. Witnesses said the shooter methodically fired at random.
NEW: El Paso shooting suspect mug shot just released, Patrick Crusius, 21. pic.twitter.com/o3VMTAAOt0
— Daniel Borunda (@BorundaDaniel) August 4, 2019
Hours after that shooting, a gunman killed at least nine people in Dayton, Ohio, Sunday morning. Connor Betts, a 24-year-old white man, has been identified as that shooter. Authorities have not identified a motive for the shooting.
President Donald Trump ordered flags flown at half mast in order to honor the dead.
Soon after the shooting, liberals began blaming Trump for the El Paso shooting, accusing him of stoking anti-immigrant sentiment that provoked Crusius.
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who represented the district encompassing El Paso, blamed Trump Sunday for the shooting and accused him of being a white supremacist.
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