Weeks before a gunman opened fire inside of a crowded Walmart in El Paso, Texas in a shooting that would claim 22 lives and injure nearly 30 more, Patrick Crusius’ mother called police to express concern over her son owning an AK-style assault rifle given his age, level of maturity, and lack of experience handling a firearm. Chris Ayres and R. Jack Ayres, attorneys for the family, confirmed the reports to CNN on Thursday.
According to the Ayres’, the call was “informational” in nature and was not prompted out of suspicion that the suspect was planning a tragedy such as the one that occurred on Saturday.
“This was not a volatile, explosive, erratic behaving kid," Chris Ayres said. “It's not like alarm bells were going off."
During the call, the mother, who did not identify herself nor her son, was transferred to a public safety officer who informed her that due to her son’s age, 21, he was legally allowed to purchase and own the firearm.
Authorities did not seek further information before the call ended, and said in a statement to the outlet that prior to the Saturday shooting, they had only been aware of three “minor incidents” with Crusius. Among those was a false burglar alarm at the family home. The second occurred when Crusius was a passenger in a bus involved in a minor traffic accident, and the third involved him running away from home, though he returned 30 minutes later.
It is unclear if the firearm in question during the call was the one used in the Saturday shooting, which is being investigated as domestic terrorism.
Less than 20 minutes before the shooting began, the gunman had shared a four-page manifesto to the online messaging board 8chan in which he expressed white nationalist and racists views and claimed that the shooting was in “"response to [the] His[panic] invasion of Texas."
The gunman, who was taken into police custody without incident, has since been charged with capital murder and is being held without bond at the El Paso County Detention Facility. Additionally, US Attorney John Bash said the Justice Department is "seriously considering" bringing federal hate crime and federal firearm charges against him.0comments
Jaime Esparza, District Attorney, said that his office will seek the death penalty.
The Saturday shooting marked the second shooting in a week, coming just days after the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting in Northern California that killed three and injured 15. The El Paso shooting was following just 12 hours later by a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, which left nine dead and injured more than two dozen.