Texas Walmart shooter agrees to pay more than $5M to families over 2019 racist attack

A plaque showing the names of some of the victims of the August 2019 mass shooting is pictured...
A plaque showing the names of some of the victims of the August 2019 mass shooting is pictured at the memorial site in El Paso, Texas, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023.(AP Photo/Andrés Leighton)
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 10:55 AM MDT|Updated: Sep. 25, 2023 at 4:49 PM MDT
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A white Texas gunman who killed 23 people at a Walmart in 2019 after ranting about Hispanics taking over the government and economy has agreed to pay more than $5 million to victims of the racist attack, according to an order signed by a judge Monday.

Patrick Crusius was sentenced to 90 consecutive life sentences in July after pleading guilty to federal hate crime charges following one of the nation’s worst mass killings. Court records show his attorneys and the Justice Department reached an agreement over the restitution amount, which was then approved by U.S. District Judge David Guaderrama.

There is no indication Crusius, 25, has significant assets. He was 21 years old and had dropped out of community college when police say he drove more than 700 miles from his home near Dallas to target Hispanics with an AK-style rifle inside and outside the store. Moments before the attack began, Crusius posted a racist screed online that warned of a Hispanic “invasion” of Texas.

He once worked at a movie theater, a job that his attorneys have said Crusius was forced to leave because he was having violent thoughts.

Crusius pleaded guilty in February after federal prosecutors took the death penalty off the table. But Texas prosecutors have said they will try to put Crusius on death row when he stands trial in state court. That trial date has not yet been set.

Under the agreement between the gunman and the government, Crusius will pay $5,557,005.55, according to court filings.

Dean Reckard, whose mother Margie Reckard was killed in the shooting, said he chose not to be included in the restitution and expressed doubt that someone sentenced to prison for life could actually pay millions of dollars.

“Nobody can ever bring back the people who were lost, including my mother,” Reckard said. “You can’t put a price on somebody’s life. We’re going to be without the people in our lives forever and he is just sitting behind bars right now, and he still gets to live so there is no winning anything here.”

Joe Spencer, an attorney for Crusius, and a spokesperson for the Justice Department did not return messages Monday.

In January, the Justice Department proposed changes to how it runs federal prisoners’ deposit accounts in an effort to ensure victims are paid restitution, including from some high-profile inmates with large balances. The move came as the Justice Department faced increased scrutiny after revelations that several high-profile inmates kept large sums of money in their prison accounts but only made minimal payments to their victims.

The 2019 attack was the deadliest of a dozen mass shootings in the U.S. linked to hate crimes since 2006, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.

Before the shooting, Crusius had appeared consumed by the nation’s immigration debate, tweeting #BuildtheWall and other social media posts that praised then-President Donald Trump’s hardline border policies. Crusius went further in his rant posted before the attack, sounding warnings that Hispanics were going to take over the government and economy.

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Associated Press writer Acacia Coronado contributed to this report.