(DALLAS) — The family of a man who allegedly gunned down 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso and reportedly told investigators he intended to kill as many Mexicans as he could says he was “influenced and informed by people we do not know.”
Patrick Crusius’ relatives released a statement condemning the mass shooting, one of the deadliest in U.S. history, and praising first responders who “intervened to stop the devastation.”
“Patrick’s actions were apparently influenced and informed by people we do not know, and from ideas and beliefs that we do not accept or condone, in any way,” the family said in a statement released Tuesday night. “He was raised in a family that taught love, kindness, respect, and tolerance — rejecting all forms of racism, prejudice hatred, and violence. There will never be a moment for the rest of our lives when we will forget each and every victim of this senseless tragedy.”
One week after his 21st birthday, Crusius allegedly drove more than 650 miles to El Paso from his suburban Dallas home, allegedly bent on targeting Mexicans, authorities said. El Paso is about five miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.
The majority of those killed in the rampage were either Mexican nationals or Mexican-Americans. At least two dozen people were injured in the shooting.
The mass shooting came one day before another alleged gunman, identified by police as 24-year-old Connor Betts, killed nine people and wounded dozens more in an entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio. The shooting occurred approximately a week after a gunman killed three people, including two children, at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California.
Crusius was arrested shortly after the attack and charged with capital murder. Federal authorities are handling the case as a “domestic terrorism” incident and said they could seek federal hate-crime and weapons charges that carry the death penalty.
Investigators say they suspect Crusius is the same person who authored a rambling screed posted on the controversial online message board 8chan before allegedly launching the rampage, saying the massacre was in response to an “invasion” of Hispanics coming across the southern border and railing against the dangers of mass immigration.
In their statement, Crusius’ family did not address whether he shared similar anti-immigrant sentiments with them.
“Since learning of the events in El Paso this past Saturday morning, we have been and are focused on the lives lost, those struggling in their recovery, and the countless families and friends of those affected by this atrocity,” the family said. “We also know that the destruction Patrick did is not limited to the victims and their families. It touches the entire El Paso and Ciudad Juarez communities, the State of Texas and this country.”
They added, “We appreciate, more than words can express, the dedication of those who intervened to stop this devastation – especially the brave men and women in law enforcement, all the other first responders, and ordinary citizens of who courageously rushed to aid those in danger. We likewise wish to thank the medical community who brought to bear all available resources to aid those in desperate need. The selflessness and devotion to total strangers in the face of indescribable suffering is something that we deeply respect and admire.
“We issue this statement to reflect our family’s position about what has transpired,” the statement continued. “We do not plan to make further public comment, at this time. Our hope and prayer now is that the collective focus will be with those who are attempting to grieve and heal.”
Investigators said Crusius carried out the attack using a 7.62-caliber AK-47 style assault rifle that he legally purchased near his hometown of Allen, Texas.
Law enforcement officials told ABC News the suspect cased the Walmart to size up the clientele before leaving the store and allegedly returning with his gun and launching the deadly rampage.
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