PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – El Paso suspect Patrick Crusius is a 21-year-old loner, but he found a connection with other accused mass murders — including alleged Tree of Life gunman Robert Bowers — on the internet.
“It’s almost like we have a fire and the internet is gasoline on that fire, where people are communicating with people they don’t know, anonymously,” said former U.S. Attorney David Hickton.
Moments before he opened fire on shoppers in the El Paso Walmart, Crusius posted a hate-filled manifesto on a dark web message board called 8chan.
In his screed, Crusuis, like Bowers, talked of invaders threatening the white race and cited a tract called The Great Replacement — espousing an all-out race war.
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In March, a gunman posted the tract on 8chan before murdering 51 people in New Zealand.
In April, a 19-year-old made ten references to Bowers and invaders before attacking a synagogue outside San Diego, killing one worshiper and wounding others.
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President Trump called for the FBI to more closely monitor these dark web sites and try to stop domestic terrorist attacks before they happen.
8chan’s internet provider has attempted to block the forum but Hickton, now the head of Pitt’s Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security, said that won’t be enough.
“We can talk about governing the internet by establishing greater oversight or regulation or cooperation between internet service providers, but all of those steps are going to fall short,” he said.
Hickton says the country has come to accept hate speech as part of the national discourse, and that must change.
“The only way out of this is if the national community conversation gets to get to the point where we no longer accept this,” he said.