El Paso Walmart shooting victim dies, death toll now 23

FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2019, file photo, several law enforcement agencies respond to an active shooter at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Suspect Patrick Crusius who was indicted for the killing of 22 people in the mass shooting at the Texas Walmart is set to formally hear the charges against him in an El Paso courtroom. An arraignment hearing for Crusius is set for Thursday, Oct. 10. (Mark Lambie/The El Paso Times via AP, File)

CEDAR ATTANASIO Associated Press

EL PASO, Teas (AP) — A man shot in the Aug. 3 attack targeting Latinos in an El Paso Walmart died after months in the hospital, raising the death toll from the attack to 23, according to a hospital official.

“After a nearly nine-month fight, our hearts are heavy as we report Guillermo ‘Memo’ Garcia, our last remaining patient being treated from the El Paso shooting, has passed away,” said Del Sol Medical Center CEO David Shimp.

Garcia and his wife Jessica Coca Garcia were fundraising for their daughter’s soccer team in the Walmart parking lot when the suspected gunman opened fire that Saturday morning.

Garcia is survived by his wife, who suffered leg wounds but recovered. A week after the shooting, she rose from her wheelchair to give a speech across the road from the county jail where the suspected shooter was being held.

“Racism is something I always wanted to think didn’t exist. Obviously, it does,” she said.

The suspect, 21-year-old Dallas-area man Patrick Crusius, remains in the same jail awaiting trial. State prosecutors have charged him with murder and are pursuing the death penalty, and federal prosecutors charged him with hate crimes.

Police said they arrested Crusius near the shooting after he surrendered to officers, telling them he was targeting “Mexicans.” They also attributed to him a four-page racist screed that decried a Hispanic “invasion” of Texas and the U.S., and called for ethnic and racial segregation.

The shooting was the largest terrorist attack targeting Hispanics in modern history, and spread fear throughout the Latino community.

In the wake of the attack El Paso police said the Walmart had previously hired armed off-duty police officers to guard larger stores, but removed them at some point.

The Garcia family joined a number of victims who sued the Walmart over lack of security on the busy Saturday shopping day when about 3,000 people were in the store. The lawsuit is ongoing.

Following the attack, the Bentonville, Ark.-based company added armed and unarmed officers to all of its stores. It stopped selling handguns and short-barrel rifle ammunition.
The store where the shooting took place reopened in November.

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