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Reflecting On The El Paso Shooting: Where Does Texas Stand 1 Year Later?

The makeshift memorial for the victims of the Aug. 3, 2019, shooting outside the Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
Stella Chávez | KERA
The makeshift memorial for the victims of the Aug. 3, 2019, shooting outside the Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

This post has been updated. It was originally published Monday, Aug. 3, at 2:52 p.m.

Monday marked a year since the El Paso shooting, in which 23 people died after Patrick Crusius opened fire at a Walmart. Despite the attack — which targeted Latinos and was preceded with a racist screed — the West Texas city is divided politically.

A year later, the community is still hurting, said Bob Moore, president and CEO of El Paso Matters.

“The anger is still there, the fear is still there in some ways and and and certainly, the grief is there but but the one thing that that's really struck me in the past year is the resilience of the community,” Moore said.

Moore said the event should not be defined by what an outsider of their community did, but rather a reclamation of the community’s own narrative. For Deborah Zuloaga, CEO of the El Paso County branch of United Way, said she and others at United Way have learned a lot about trauma response from the situation.

“Ours was a unique situation because it was not an individual from our community; it was an individual who literally drove 10 hours to get here to cause the pain that he caused in our community. But what we have sadly learned is what has happened in other communities. We are not the first community to go to a mass casualty event,”  said Deborah Zuloaga, CEO of the El Paso branch of United Way.

After the shooting, United Way of El Paso set up resiliency centers to help survivors and the community to cope after the shooting.

“It is both The comprehensive case management services for individuals affected by the shooting, but also traditional therapy, counseling and therapy and also non traditional services that are now being offered to individuals in the community that were affected by the shooting,” Zuloaga said.

Janet Murguía, president and CEO of UnidosUS, reminded that the attack was more than a matter of gun control.

“It's clear that it was clearly an intersection of an act of gun violence, but also an act of racism,” Murguía said. “We also saw it as an act of deadly racism. It was the largest massacre of Hispanics in modern US history.”

Moore opts to focus on the community’s resilience after the attack rather than the shooter.

“I have no need to have his name in my mouth. It doesn't accomplish anything. His name is well-known. I would rather talk about the names of the victims and I would rather talk about El Paso because that's what's what's really important,” he said.

What progress has the state Domestic Terrorism Task Force made in the last year?

How has the shooting affected your day-to-day life or altered your perception of safety in America? Have you purchased a gun to protect yourself against others' racist actions?

How do you commemorate a grim milestone with COVID-19 precautions in place? 


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*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, August 4.

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Kathleen Creedon can be reached at kathleen@tpr.org or on Twitter at @Kath_Creedon