The gunman behind a shooting in Texas that killed 22 people pleaded not guilty to capital murder during his arraignment Thursday, US media reported.
Patrick Crusius, 21, is accused of carrying out the August 3 mass shooting at a Walmart in the West Texas city of El Paso. He confessed to police upon his arrest and said he was targeting “Mexicans.”
According to reports, Crusius pleaded not guilty to the charges against him during his hearing in the El Paso County Courthouse, his first public appearance since his arrest.
Texas state prosecutors charged Crusius with capital murder in August, the day after the attack. El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza told reporters at the time that he would seek the death penalty.
The US attorney for the Western District of Texas, John Bash, then added that the case was being treated as an act of domestic terrorism.
Crusius is believed to have driven nine hours from Allen, his hometown, to the majority-Hispanic border town of El Paso.
He can be seen on video from the Walmart security cameras entering the store with an assault rifle.
Prior to carrying out the attack, Crusius published a white supremacist manifesto online which expressed fears of a “Hispanic invasion” of Texas.
Eight of the people killed in the rampage were Mexican nationals, and many of the other victims were Americans of Hispanic origin.
Donald Trump’s critics have accused the president of stoking white nationalist hatred in the US with anti-immigrant rhetoric, including comments referring to Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists.