The gunman who allegedly killed 20 people and injured dozens of others at a crowded mall in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday morning was fueled by an intense hatred for immigrants and Mexicans, according to a "manifesto" published online moments before the massacre.
Authorities said the writings came from the gunman, identified as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, and had been attributed "directly to him." The 2,300-word manifesto was posted to the anonymous message board 8chan before Crusius allegedly began firing at shoppers inside a Walmart and other stores at the Cielo Vista shopping center around 11 a.m. Saturday.
The writings from the suspected shooter said the attack was in response to a "Hispanic invasion" of Texas, warning that the population will make Texas and other states a "Democrat stronghold" that will allow the party to win future presidential elections.
"They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion," the document said.
The suspected shooter also wrote that immigration can only be detrimental to the future of the United States and "make one of the biggest issues of our time, automation, so much worse."
"It makes no sense to keep on letting millions of illegal or legal immigrants flood into the United States, and to keep the tens of millions that are already here," the manifesto said. "Invaders who also have close to the highest birthrate of all ethnicities in America."
At least six Mexican nationals were killed in the shooting, according to Mexico’s Reforma newspaper. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard also threatened legal action to ensure that Mexicans in the US are protected.
The Justice Department said Sunday it is treating the mass shooting as a “domestic terrorism case” and exploring a hate crime connection.
“We’re going to do what we do to terrorists in this country, which is deliver swift and certain justice,” said US Attorney John Bash.
The suspected shooter, Crusius, lived more than 600 miles away from the massacre in Allen, an affluent Dallas suburb. On Sunday, local media captured a swarm of law enforcement vehicles outside a gray stone house. Alice Baland, who lives a few houses away, told the local Fox affiliate that a retired couple lives at the residence associated with the suspect and described the elderly pair “as sweet people who regularly attend church.”
Though he said his opinions predate Donald Trump's presidency and his 2016 election, the words of the suspect closely mirror those of Trump, his administration, and supporters.
"Some people will blame the president or certain presidential candidates for the attack. This is not the case," the manifesto said. "I know that the media will probably call me a white supremacist anyway and blame Trump’s rhetoric. The media is infamous for fake news. Their reaction to this attack will likely just confirm that."
When Trump announced his presidential campaign in 2015, he claimed Mexicans were "rapists" who are "bringing drugs and crime" to the US. In the years since, the president has frequently made anti-immigrant statements and his administration has sought to decrease the number of legal and undocumented immigrants in the country.
Trump has also referred to undocumented immigration as an invasion at least six times on Twitter, a sentiment echoed by the suspected shooter in his manifesto.
Social media profiles that belonged to Crusius and reviewed by BuzzFeed News reinforced his identity as a withdrawn loner with few friends and who espoused racist, anti-immigrant beliefs.
Using the Twitter handle @outsider609, Crusius advocated for Trump’s wall on the Mexico border and frequently liked the president’s tweets and those who supported him. The account, which was created in 2016 and suspended after the shooting, was largely inactive and had few followers.
On Jan 29, 2017, he tweeted, “#BuildTheWall is the best way that @POTUS has worked to secure our country so far.” Crusius also used disparaging language like “nasty woman,” which the president often called presidential rival Hillary Clinton, and the alt-right, anti-liberal term “cuck.”
In one reply from March 2017, he asked a user, “What are you fucking gay or something.” His most recent activity was retweeting another user's support for former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly.
Crusius also liked the president’s tweets about the wall, including one from Jan. 6, 2017, where Trump wrote, “The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of Speed) will be paid back by Mexico later!”
On LinkedIn, Crusius wrote that he was “not really motivated to do anything more than what’s necessary to get by.” Of his high school experience, he said he did not “really participate in extracurricular activities because of a lack of freedom.”
Crusius said he worked part-time as a bagger at Market Street, a grocery store in Allen, Texas, in 2015, but quit because he had “no way to get there living many miles away.” However, Terry Allsop, the store’s manager, told BuzzFeed News that the suspect’s name “did not ring a bell” and that he has been managing the store “since before it opened.”
Crusius's Facebook page contained little information other than a profile picture showing a scowling 21-year-old in thin, wire-rimmed glasses from June 10, 2017. He had three friends, including his twin sister. A Facebook spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that it was working with law enforcement to aid the investigation.
Crusius briefly attended Liberty High School before transferring to and graduating from Plano Senior High School in 2017, according to the school district.
Damarius Griffin told BuzzFeed News he was surprised to learn that he was one of only three friends left on the suspect’s Facebook profile before it was suspended. The 22-year-old, who graduated from Plano Senior High School in 2016, said he didn’t really know his former classmate well, but that Crusius “seemed like a nice guy,” but “people just gave him a hard time.”
“You could kind of tell that he was getting bullied,” Griffin said of Crusius.
According to a recording of his high school graduation ceremony, Crusius did not walk across the stage to accept his diploma. His twin sister, however, did.
“She was more outgoing and a little bit more popular, as cliché as that may sound,” Griffin recalled.
After graduating high school, Crusius attended Collin College in Plano until spring 2019, the school said in a statement.
A student who attended a class with Crusius earlier this year told BuzzFeed News that there was “something off about him” and that other students would talk about his unusual demeanor.
“People in my class occasionally mentioned that he gave off weird vibes and was the kind of person that radiated an energy that you didn’t want to associate with,” said Luke, a 19-year-old who asked that his last name not be published.