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Thursday, April 18, 2024

World News | Relatives of El Paso Walmart shooting victims seek justice, say they are devastated but not out yet


EL PASO (USA) – July 6 (AP) – A brother traveled more than 1,000 miles to face the killer of his sister. The uncle of a 4-year-old orphan whose parents died protecting the boy from bullets. A wife whose husband was shot beside her while their 9-year-old granddaughter looked on.

Nearly four years after a white gunman killed 23 people in a racist attack on Hispanic shoppers at a Walmart in El Paso, relatives of the victims packed a courtroom near the U.S.-Mexico border this week to watch as Patrick Crusius was punished for one of the charges. The worst mass shooting in the country.

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The sentencing phase began on Wednesday and continued on Thursday, the first time Crusius’ family has had the opportunity to speak with Crusius face-to-face since the Aug. 3, 2019, shooting.

Crusius, 24, pleaded guilty in February to 90 counts of murder, weapons and hate crimes and is expected to receive multiple life sentences in federal prison. He could also be sentenced to death on separate charges in state court.

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Here’s what the verdict means to some relatives, in their own words:

The family believes Jordan and Andre Anjodo were protecting their two-month-old child, Paul, in the attack, which killed both men.

Andre’s brother, Tito Anjodo, said he would forgive Crusius but also wanted to explain to him why his approach had failed.

Less than half an hour before the attack, Crusius had published an essay online opposing the so-called Hispanic “invasion” of Texas and warning that they would take over the government and the economy.

“He started hurting people because he said Hispanics were taking over. I just wanted him to know that his efforts were futile,” Anjodo said. “Yes, we’ve lost a lot of people. … Those who are still here, we’re still moving on.”

His nephew turns 4 in May. Anjodo said the boy has come to understand the pain of losing a parent and is trying to cope on special occasions like Father’s Day and when he sees family photos.

Jordan’s father, Paul Jamrowski, said sitting in the same courtroom with Crusius on Wednesday was a harrowing experience. He said he forgave Crusius and thanked his grandchildren for having each other.

However, he is not sure that justice will actually be served.

“These lives will never be resurrected, so how can that be justice?” Jamrowski said. “Who can say what justice is? What we’re doing is trying to deal with this like any other family, which is to move on with your life.”

Dean Reckard says he has nothing to say about the killer of his sister Margie Reckard.

But he and his wife still made the trip from Omaha, Nebraska, to hear what other families had to say about the shooter. Reckard twitched and wiped away tears as Crusius was brought into court on Wednesday.

Dean’s wife, Hilda Reckard, said they were there to “stand up to hate”.

“I just think we’re here to take a stand,” she said. “You knocked us out, but you didn’t knock us out.”

Among the first to address Crusius were David Johnson’s family, which included his widow, her grown daughter and granddaughter who witnessed the attack.

Everyone talked about the daily trauma of the loss of a loving grandfather who loved cooking, watching NASCAR races, and playing Lincoln logs with the grandkids.

“He’s always been my rock and my strength, but you took him away from me,” Johnson’s daughter, Stephanie Melendez, told Crusius. “You stole my daughter’s safety, you changed my life forever. … You showed her that evil really exists beyond the storybooks.”

David’s wife, Catherine Johnson, who was by his side when he was killed, asked the court for the maximum sentence. She said she was battling depression, anxiety, anger and night terrors.

“He was shot at point-blank range by a coward and his innocent blood was everywhere,” Johnson said. “I don’t know when I’ll be the same. … The pain you’ve caused is indescribable. I want you to know that you can’t take away the memory of David Johnson and the joy he brought to this family .”

Albert Hernandez, who lost his sister Maribel Campos and brother-in-law Leonardo Campos in the shooting, has no plans to speak in court at this time.

He prefers to do so after Crusius faces a trial that could lead to the death penalty, which prosecutors intend to seek in a separate state lawsuit.

“This is just a stepping stone for him to be brought to justice,” Hernandez said. “I’ll wait until the trial is over.”

Hernandez has also been pressured by other mass shootings in Texas since the Walmart attack, including last year’s shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde that killed 19 children and two children. teachers died.

“It’s not about revenge. It’s about punishment, and appropriate punishment,” Hernandez said. (AP)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a syndicated news feed, the latest staff may not have modified or edited the body of content)


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