A Texas man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to killing nearly two dozen people during a mass shooting at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart in 2019.
The 24-year-old man of Allen, Texas, is facing 90 federal charges, including hate crime and firearms charges, related to the August 3, 2019, massacre. His attorneys said last month that he intended to plead guilty after prosecutors with the federal government said they would not seek the death penalty, according to the Associated Press.
“I plead guilty,” the man said in a court house in El Paso. The courtroom was filled with the family members and friends of those killed in the shooting about three-and-a-half years ago.
Though U.S. prosecutors do not intend to push for the death penalty, the man still could face the death penalty. He still faces state charges which carry with them the possibility of capital punishment should he be found guilty. The defendant has pleaded not guilty to the state charges.
Federal prosecutors plan to recommend that the defendant face 90 consecutive life sentences in prison. Defense attorney Joe Spencer said that his client wanted to take responsibility for the shooting and begin serving his sentence.
“We’re glad that it’s finally done,” Spencer said, according to the El Paso Times. “And he’s glad that it is finally done. There are no winners in this case. He’s going to be serving 90 consecutive life sentences.”
The admitted shooter drove from Allen, a suburb north of Dallas, to El Paso on the day of the massacre. After reaching El Paso, he posted online about a “Hispanic invasion” of Texas, prosecutors said.
“This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by the invasion,” the man allegedly wrote in a document titled, “The Inconvenient Truth.”
After posting the message, he took a rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition and shot dozens inside a local Walmart and in the store’s parking lot. Twenty-three people died in the rampage and dozens more were wounded. The shooter surrendered to law enforcement shortly thereafter.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a statement on the two-year anniversary of the shooting, calling it a “heinous and senseless act of violence.”
“Two years ago today, a heinous and senseless act of violence destroyed countless lives in the El Paso community. As we dealt with the aftermath of the horrific violence and overwhelming grief, we also saw the true spirit of what it means to be a Texan,” Abbott said.
“People from every corner of the Lone Star State banded together to support and uplift El Pasoans during their time of loss. And together as a state, we stepped up to protect our communities and prevent future tragedies,” he added.