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San Antonio Vigil For El Paso Remembers Victims And Demands Changes To Gun Laws

Joey Palacios | Texas Public Radio

A vigil in downtown San Antonio Sunday night paid respects to the victims of the El Paso mass shooting. More than 150 people gathered in Main Plaza to reflect on the loss of life and demand reforms to gun laws.

Carmen Tafolla, the Alamo City's former poet laureate, read the names of some of the El Paso victims.

“We are Jordan Achondo," she called out, "who died from your hail of bullets."

Attendees at the vigil held signs that read "Praying for El Paso" or "Gun Control Now." Several speakers urged legislative reforms to gun laws, including instituting universal background checks. Others urged the audience members to contact their lawmakers.

Joshua Ortega is an El Paso native. He recalled how he would frequently visit the mall next to the Walmart where the shooting happened. He said when he heard of the incident, he took immediate action.

“I was calling people nonstop," he said. "I was calling my friends. Calling them just making sure that they’re okay. I didn’t know what to think. Everyone was okay. But I don’t understand why I’m feeling like this even though everyone was okay.”

Roxanne Mojica, a combat veteran, said the mass shooting hit close to home for her.

“These are my people," she said, "regardless of the color of skin, race, religion, creed. You know, this could have happened to any town anywhere, you know, and hopefully of El Paso know there are people all around the country thinking about them, praying for them and mourning their loss.”

Mojica said she supports gun ownership but wants stricter laws on high-powered weapons.

Credit Joey Palacios | Texas Public Radio
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg addressed the vigil.

“You know, we sit and we talk and this happens over and over and over but there’s no change," she said. "There’s been nothing significant that’s prevented this, and now, as yesterday showed, it wasn’t just El Paso. This happened twice in one day.”

She referred to a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, on early Sunday morning that left nine people dead, not including the gunman.

The incident in El Paso was the third mass shooting in Texas in less than two years. At least two state lawmakers called on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to convene a special legislative session to address gun violence.

Authorities believe the 21-year-old shooter wrote a manifesto with anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric. They said they would treat the shooting as a case of domestic terrorism.

Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules