How Portapique began to heal after a mass shooting
“There’s a new sense of hope, there’s a sense of pride.”
Nate Chute and Omar Ornelas, El Paso Times
On Aug. 3, 2019, a gunman opened fire at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. Authorities say the gunman targeted Mexicans in hopes of scaring Latinos into leaving the U.S., and he had outlined the plot in a screed published online shortly before the attack.
The gunman is accused of killing 23 people and injuring dozens of others. He faces charges in state district and federal courts. He faces 90 federal charges, including 45 hate crimes, in connection with the mass shooting. He is also charged in state court with one count of capital murder of multiple persons and 22 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Today marks the third anniversary of the attack — considered the darkest day in El Paso’s history. Here’s what Texas and El Paso leaders had to say:
President Joe Biden: We owe it to the families and community in El Paso
Three years ago, on a tragic, painful day in our nation’s history, we lost 23 souls and 22 others were injured when a gunman full of rage and hate targeted the people of El Paso and the rich Hispanic heritage of the people within it. We will never forget the lives lost, or the courage and resilience of those injured and the loved ones they left behind.
Together with partners in Congress and countless advocates across this country, we have made progress to confront both hate and gun violence. We’ve acted to reduce gun violence – taking more executive action to reduce gun violence than any other Administration at this point, and bringing together Republicans and Democrats to enact the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant gun violence reduction legislation in 30 years. I signed bipartisan legislation to improve hate crimes reporting and enhance training for law enforcement to identify and respond to hate crimes. And last year, my Administration laid out our country’s first-ever comprehensive effort to counter the threat posed by domestic terrorism.
We know there’s more work to do. The House recently passed a bill that would ban the weapons of war like the one the El Paso gunman and so many others have used to take and injure so many innocent lives in a matter of minutes. The Senate needs to act on that critical piece of legislation.I’m not going to stop fighting to make communities across the country safer. We owe it to the families and community in El Paso, and to so many communities like El Paso.
Third anniversary:Why we remember Aug. 3, 2019: state Rep. Joe Moody
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: End the daily horrors of gun violence
“Three years ago, a right-wing extremist – armed with an assault rifle and fueled by the evils of white nationalism – sought to terrorize El Paso’s Latino community, claiming 23 lives and injuring 23 more in a horrific act of racist mass murder. This massacre devastated El Paso and shattered the hearts of Americans across the country. Yet even as we mourn the beautiful souls stolen in El Paso, our nation’s daily drumbeat of gun violence continues to tear apart even more families. Inspired by the courage of survivors and guided by their advocacy, House Democrats remain unwavering in our commitment to ending America’s gun epidemic.
“As we honor the memory of those murdered in El Paso, let us renew our resolve to stamp out hateful violence wherever it appears, end the daily horrors of gun violence and build a safer future for all of our children.”
Beto O’Rourke: Committing ourselves to the action necessary to prevent this from happening again
“We can’t remember the lives we lost in El Paso three years ago without committing ourselves to the action necessary to prevent this from happening again.
“We must replace demagogues who scapegoat immigrants and divide us based on our differences with leaders who care for and serve all of us equally. We must replace allegiance to the NRA and gun lobby with devotion to protecting the lives of those in our communities.
“We must convert hope into action, anger into action, frustration into action. It is the antidote to despair and it is the key to overcoming cynical politicians who use fear and lies to stoke hatred and violence. We owe the El Paso survivors and the families of those who were taken from us our love and our enduring support. But most of all we owe them action.”
Gov. Greg Abbott has not issued a statement as of Wednesday morning.
Sen. Ted Cruz: We remember the 23 people who were murdered that day
Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted the following statement Wednesday morning: 3 years ago, an evil white supremacist committed an unspeakable act in El Paso. We remember the 23 people who were murdered that day. We pray for the families and loved ones who had their lives changed forever – and we will always remain #ElPasoStrong.
Rep. Veronica Escobar: Our country continues to struggle with our national gun violence crisis
“Three years ago, El Paso was forever changed when a domestic terrorist drove over 700 miles to carry out racist violence he had outlined in an online screed. He confessed that he wanted to slaughter Mexicans and immigrants, using the same white nationalist conspiracy theories pushed by the President at the time and still used today by politicians in Washington and Austin. On that terrible day, El Paso faced the consequences of that hateful, xenophobic disinformation and the easy access to guns.
“In the years since, honoring the victims and survivors of the attack has been a priority for me and our office. In March of this year, the House passed my bill to designate the El Paso Healing Garden as a national memorial and we are working to get it passed in the Senate. Last Friday, I presided on the House floor over part of the debate on the Assault Weapons Ban of 2022 and proudly cast my vote for this bill in honor of the victims and survivors of August 3rd. I will continue to lead and support legislation that get us closer to ensuring all people are free to live their lives without fear of being gunned down at the grocery store, at church, in school, at an Independence Day parade, or at a Walmart.
“Our country continues to struggle with our national gun violence crisis as well and the furthering of dangerous white supremacist conspiracy theories. But just as we’ve lived the tragedy of all of this, we have also never lost touch of our humanity or what makes El Paso special. The love we continue to show one another is the source of our greatest strength. Our community gives me reason to be hopeful. It gives me reason to remain resilient. It gives me reason to continue the good fight. El Paso and her people are, and always will be, El Paso Strong.”
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Sen. César J. Blanco: In the face of the worst, we demonstrated our best
“Three years ago, El Paso endured a horrific tragedy that killed 23 innocent people. They were our friends, our family, and our loved ones. Today, and every day, we remember those lives that were taken from us too soon.
“As much as I remember the sadness of that day, I will never forget our community’s reaction. I didn’t hear any talk about retribution or vengeance. I heard and saw an outpouring of love, compassion, & support.
“We saw El Pasoans lined around a building to donate blood in 100-degree weather – so much so that they had to turn people away! We saw people handing out food and water and even makeup services to the reporters who came from all across the country just to help them cool off and feel welcome. And we also saw firsthand the makeshift memorial that stood with photos, candles, and other gifts to commemorate the lives that were tragically lost. These are stories of El Paso’s compassionate community. These are stories we should be proud of. In the face of the worst, we demonstrated our best.
“We were El Paso Strong and still are.”
Border Patrol El Paso Sector Chief Gloria Chavez
Border Patrol El Paso Sector Chief Gloria Chavez tweeted the following Tuesday, “We remember and we mourn the 23 lives lost on August 3, 2019. Forever in our memory and our hearts. God Bless the affected families.”
El Paso Fire Department
El Paso Fire Department tweeted the following statement, “Today, we take a moment to remember and honor the 23 lives that were taken from our community 3 years ago and to thank the hundreds of first responders that, without hesitation, answered our community’s call in its darkest hour. Stay United, El Paso. Stay Strong.”