Last hospitalized El Paso Walmart shooting victim dies, bringing massacre’s death toll to 23

EL PASO, Texas — Nearly nine months after he was shot alongside his wife outside the El Paso Walmart where they and their children were raising funds for their daughter’s soccer team, the last hospitalized victim of the racially-motivated massacre has died.

Guillermo “Memo” Garcia, 36, died Saturday night at Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso, where he continued to be treated for multiple gunshot wounds, according to hospital CEO David Shimp.

“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,” Shimp said in a statement Sunday, according to CNN. “His courage, his strength and his story have touched many lives, including those of our caregivers, who tirelessly fought with him and for him every step of the way. We are grieving with his family and with our community.”

Garcia’s passing brings the death toll of the Aug. 3, 2019, mass shooting to 23, making it the deadliest anti-Latino attack in modern U.S. history. He is survived by his wife, Jessica Coca Garcia, and their two children.

The couple’s children, Karina, 10, and little Memo, 6, were uninjured in the mass shooting, according to the Houston Chronicle. Garcia, known affectionately as “Tank” because of his size, shielded his wife and young son from the gunfire.

Coca Garcia suffered gunshot wounds to her legs but little Memo was unhurt.

Garcia was struck multiple times in the back, the bullets causing extensive damage to his organs, the Chronicle reported. The New York Times reported that Garcia, whose injuries were among the most extensive suffered that day, underwent more than 17 surgeries and remained hospitalized the entire nine months since the attack.

>> Read more trending news

Garcia’s friend and fellow soccer coach, Luis Calvillo, confirmed his death Sunday in a Facebook post.

“I will like to take this time to let everyone know that my dear friend Memo Garcia has been called to heaven,” Calvillo wrote. “On behalf of Jessica Coca Garcia, and with her permission, I would like to ask everyone to keep her and her kids on your prayers. Also if we can give her some time to herself and her family to grieve, I will really appreciate it.

Calvillo thanked the public for their support of the family.

Hello everyone, I will like to take this time let everyone know that my dear friend Memo Garcia has been called to...

Posted by Luis Calvillo on Sunday, April 26, 2020

Coca Garcia later said in a statement to ABC7 in El Paso that her family has “lost a warrior but gained an angel.”

“He fought long and hard (and) with the help of all his troops, he won many battles but lost the war,” her statement to the news station said.

She wrote that the family would hold a public memorial and Mass for the community to pay its respects to her husband once the social distancing orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been lifted.

“We would like to ask the community to continue to lift Memo in prayer and allow us to grief this tremendous loss,” she said. “We are asking for privacy during this time.”

Calvillo, who is also a survivor of the shooting, told CNN last year that a group of parents was holding a fundraiser for El Paso Fusion Soccer Club, which Calvillo and Garcia coached together. Garcia’s daughter is a member of the team.

The coaches and parents were selling drinks and snacks outside the store to fund the girls’ way to a soccer tournament when a gunman opened fire.

More than four dozen Walmart patrons were shot, including Calvillo’s father, who died. According to El Paso police officials, the dead ranged in age from 15 to 90.

Watch Calvillo talk to CNN about the shooting below. Warning: The video contains footage from the scene of the shooting.

The alleged gunman, Patrick Wood Crusius, 21, of Allen, was spotted at a nearby intersection by Texas Rangers rushing to the scene, his arrest affidavit said. Crusius exited the vehicle with his hands raised in the air.

“I’m the shooter,” he told the agents, according to the affidavit.

The document stated that Crusius admitted to going into the store with an assault rifle and multiple magazines of ammunition. According to authorities, the weapon was a GP WASR-10, a Romanian-made semi-automatic rifle that is a variant of an AK-47.

Once inside, he opened fire on customers.

His target were “Mexicans,” Crusius told police.

>> Related story: Suspected El Paso Walmart gunman said he was targeting Mexicans, police say

He drove about 10 hours from his home in Allen, a Dallas suburb, to carry out the crime in El Paso. According to data from the 2010 Census, about 11% of the population of Allen is Hispanic or Latino compared to 81% of the population of El Paso.

Crusius is awaiting trial in state court for capital murder of more than one person, according to court records. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Crusius also faces a possible death penalty in federal court, where prosecutors in February obtained a 90-count indictment against him. The charges include 22 counts of a hate crime resulting in death, 23 counts of hate crimes involving an attempt to kill and 45 counts of discharging a firearm in relation to hate crimes, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas.

Read the federal indictment against Patrick Crusius below.

The federal indictment alleges that on the day of the shooting, Crusius uploaded to the internet a document he called “The Inconvenient Truth,” federal prosecutors said in a news release.

“The document opened by stating, ‘This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by the invasion,’” the news release said.

According to the federal indictment, Crusius purchased the GP WASR-10 and 1,000 rounds of ammunition on the internet less than two months before the massacre at Walmart.

The indictment accuses Crusius of willfully causing bodily injury to the victims because of their actual or perceived national origin.

El Paso police officials reported in August that of the 22 initial victims of the massacre, 13 were natives of the U.S. Seven were from Mexico, one was German and one, 15-year-old Javier Rodriguez, was listed as undetermined.

According to his Facebook page, Garcia was from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

A week after the shooting, a recovering Coca Garcia rose from a wheelchair to speak to a crowd gathered across the street from the El Paso County Jail, where Crusius sat in a cell. The attendees marched through El Paso on the way to the jail, denouncing racism and demanding stricter gun laws, according to the AP.

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

In September, the Garcias filed a lawsuit against Walmart, alleging the company failed to have adequate security in place to prevent the shooting. Like the criminal cases against Crusius, the lawsuit is ongoing.