Families confront the Texas Walmart gunman in court. Some forgive him, others want the death penalty

Jul 5, 2023, 9:07 PM | Updated: Jul 6, 2023, 9:46 am

Paul Jamrowski, father of Jordan Anchondo and father in law of Andre Anchondo, who both died in the...

Paul Jamrowski, father of Jordan Anchondo and father in law of Andre Anchondo, who both died in the El Paso Walmart mass shooting, breaks down in tears while speaking to the media outside the federal court in El Paso, Texas, Wednesday, July 5, 2023. Patrick Crusius, who is accused of killing nearly two dozen people in a racist attack at an El Paso Walmart in August 2019, is set to receive multiple life sentences after pleading guilty to federal hate crimes and weapons charges in one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. (AP Photo/Andrés Leighton)

(AP Photo/Andrés Leighton)

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A brother who traveled more than 1,000 miles to confront his sister’s killer. An uncle of an orphaned 4-year-old whose parents died while shielding the boy from the spray of bullets. A wife whose husband was gunned down at her side while their 9-year-old granddaughter looked on.

Nearly four years after a white gunman killed 23 people at a Walmart in El Paso in a racist attack that targeted Hispanic shoppers, relatives of the victims are packing a courtroom near the U.S.-Mexico border this week to see Patrick Crusius punished for one of the nation’s worst mass shootings.

The sentencing phase, which continued Thursday, is the families’ first opportunity to address Crusius face-to-face since the Aug. 3, 2019, shooting.

Crusius, 24, is expected to receive multiple life sentences in federal prison separate charges in state court.

Here is some of what the families told Crusius, and what others want from the sentencing:


Family members credit Jordan Anchondo and Andre Anchondo with shielding their 2-month-old child Paul during the attack, in which they were both killed.

Tito Anchondo, Andre’s brother, said he will forgive Crusius but also wants to explain to him how he failed.

Less than a half-hour before the attack, Crusius posted an online rant about a supposed “invasion” of Texas by Hispanics and warned they would take over the government and economy.

“He set out to hurt people because he said Hispanics were taking over. I just want him to know his efforts were in vain,” Anchondo said. “Yeah, we lost a lot of people. … The ones that are still here, we’re still pushing forward.”

His nephew turned 4 in May. Anchondo said the boy has begun to understand the loss of his parents and grapples with it on special occasions, such as Father’s Day, and at the sight of family portraits.

Paul Jamrowski, Jordan’s father, said it was excruciating to sit in the same courtroom as Crusius on Wednesday. He said he forgives Crusius, and that he’s unsure whether justice can ever really be served.

“These lives will never be brought back to life, so how is that justice?” Jamrowski said. “And who’s to say what justice is? What we do is we try to deal with it as every other family has, which is to continue to go on with your life.”


Dean Reckard said he has nothing to say to the man who killed his younger sister, Margie Reckard.

But he and his wife still traveled all the way from Omaha, Nebraska, to hear what other families say to the gunman. The sight of Crusius being led into the courtroom Wednesday caused Reckard to convulse and left him wiping tears from his eyes.

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

“I just think that us coming here is to take a stand,” she said. “You knocked us down, you didn’t knock us out.”


Thomas Hoffmann held up photographs in the courtroom of his father Alexander Hoffmann, a German native and engineer who raised a tight-knit family in neighboring Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Alexander, 66, had crossed the border on a routine shopping trip on the day of the shooting.

Hoffman said he hoped Crusius loses sleep over his actions and insisted that he confront the images of his father.

“He always taught us that the color of your skin doesn’t matter because we are all children of God,” he said. He called Crusius “an evil parasite that is nothing without a weapon.”

Elise Hoffmann-Taus, Alexander’s daughter, urged the court: “Please, do not be lenient on Patrick Wood Crusius.”


Among the first to address Crusius was the family of David Johnson, including his widow, her grown daughter and a granddaughter who witnessed the attack.

Each spoke of daily trauma from the death of a loving grandfather who liked to play with his grandkids, cook and watch NASCAR racing.

“He was always my rock and my strength, and you took him from me,” Stephanie Melendez, Johnson’s daughter, told Crusius. “You stole my daughter’s safety and you changed my life forever. … You showed her evil does exist outside of storybooks.”


Albert Hernandez, who lost his sister Maribel Campos and brother-in-law Leonardo Campos in the shooting, doesn’t want to speak in court for now.

He prefers to do so only after Crusius faces a trial that could result in the death penalty, which prosecutors intend to seek in state proceedings.

“This is just a stepping stone for him to be brought to justice,” Hernandez said. “I’m going to wait until after trial, at the end.”

Other mass shootings in Texas also weigh on Hernandez, including last year’s massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

“It’s not about vengeance,” Hernandez said. “It has to do with punishment, and appropriate punishment.”


Weber reported from Austin.

National News

Associated Press

Stock market today: Asian shares track Wall Street’s slump after Fed says rates may stay high in ’24

Asian shares are lower, tracking a slump on Wall Street after the Federal Reserve said it may not cut interest rates next year by as much as it earlier thought. Most regional markets fell more than 1%. U.S. futures and oil prices also declined. U.S. stocks slumped Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said it may […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Deja Taylor arrives at federal court, June 12, 2023, in Virginia Beach, Va. Taylor, the moth...

Associated Press

Mother of 6-year-old boy who shot his teacher in Virginia could be jailed for failing drug tests

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) — The mother of a 6-year-old who shot his teacher in Virginia could be jailed Thursday for failing drug tests while awaiting sentencing on federal weapons charges that she used marijuana while possessing a firearm. A bond revocation hearing is set in federal court in Newport News for Deja Taylor. Her […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Anthony Sanchez, right, is escorted into a Cleveland County courtroom for a preliminary hear...

Associated Press

Man set to be executed for 1996 slaying of University of Oklahoma dance student

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma is set to execute an inmate Thursday morning for the 1996 slaying of a University of Oklahoma dance student, a case that went unsolved for years until DNA from the crime scene matched a man serving time for burglary. Anthony Sanchez, 44, is scheduled to receive a three-drug injection at […]

2 hours ago

A Brightline train approaches the Fort Lauderdale station on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023, in Fort Lauderd...

Associated Press

First private US passenger rail line in 100 years is about to link Miami and Orlando at high speed

MIAMI (AP) — The first big test of whether privately owned high-speed passenger train service can prosper in the United States will launch Friday when Florida’s Brightline begins running trains between Miami and Orlando, reaching speeds of 125 mph (200 kph). It’s a $5 billion bet Brightline’s owner, Fortress Investment Group, is making, believing that […]

3 hours ago

The entrance to the Las Vegas Review-Journal campus is shown in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023...

Associated Press

Outdated headline sparks vicious online hate campaign directed at Las Vegas newspaper

NEW YORK (AP) — A Las Vegas newspaper is being viciously attacked online for its coverage of an alleged murder of a retired police chief, either because of a misunderstanding or a deliberate attempt to mislead. The “firehose of hatred” has led the Las Vegas Review-Journal to sift through email directed at one of its […]

3 hours ago

Disbarred attorney Alex Murdaugh arrives in court in Beaufort, S.C. Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023. Murda...

Associated Press

Alex Murdaugh plans to do something he hasn’t yet done in court — plead guilty

Convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh is expected to step before a judge Thursday and do something he hasn’t done in the two years since his life of privilege and power started to unravel: plead guilty to a crime. Murdaugh will admit in federal court that he committed 22 counts of financial fraud and money laundering, his […]

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Families confront the Texas Walmart gunman in court. Some forgive him, others want the death penalty