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El Paso shooting: Suspect Patrick Crusius pleads not guilty to Walmart gun attack which killed 22

Patrick Crusius, 21, could face the death penalty if convicted: AP
Patrick Crusius, 21, could face the death penalty if convicted: AP

The man suspected of opening fire in a Texas Walmart has pleaded not guilty to killing 22 people and injuring 26.

Patrick Crusius, 21, was charged with murder last month and will face the death penalty if he is convicted.

Prosecutors said Crusius, of Dallas, previously confessed to driving more than 11 hours from his home to carry out the mass shooting in El Paso.

He also admitted to targeting Mexicans in the AK-47 rifle attack, which has been classed as an act of terrorism by the US Department of Justice.

The 21-year-old previously confessed to the killings (AP)
The 21-year-old previously confessed to the killings (AP)

Appearing in court for the first time on Thursday, the Dallas resident spoke only to confirm his name and his “not guilty” plea.

He was in and out of the courtroom in around three minutes.

In documents filed on Thursday, the El Paso prosecutor referenced evidence he had shared with the defence on September 27.

That evidence includes police and FBI interviews with Crusius, data from his mobile phone, records from the schools he attended and hours of footage captured by Walmart security cameras around the time of the shooting.

It also includes the FBI’s “manifesto analysis” - a likely reference to a racist creed railing against an “influx of Hispanic people into the US” that Crusius is alleged to have posted online before the shooting.

Prosecutors said the 21-year-old surrendered to police after the El Paso massacre saying “I'm the shooter", and that he was targeting Mexicans.

But his legal team have appealed for open minds as they present their defence of Crusius.

“There are two sides to this story,” lead defence lawyer Mark Stevens said.

“We’ll ask everybody, media and everybody else, to keep an open mind until you hear both sides of the story, what comes out in the courtroom.”

Assistant defence attorney Joe Spencer said he and Mr Stevens “were morally opposed to the death penalty” and that they “will use every breath we have to try to save Patrick’s life”.

He added that the El Paso community needed closure and healing, saying the “quickest way” to achieve this is “not through seeking the death penalty”.

Crusius is being held in an El Paso jail.

Crusius was arrested immediately after the gun massacre (AP)
Crusius was arrested immediately after the gun massacre (AP)

He has been on suicide watch since shortly after his arrest and is separated from other prisoners.

The attack in El Paso was followed less than a day later by another shooting that claimed nine lives in Dayton, Ohio.

These killings were followed weeks later by another in the West Texas cities of Midland and Odessa, where one man killed seven people and wounded around two dozen others while firing from a car.

The gunmen in both attacks were killed by police.