© 2024 KRWG
News that Matters.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

El Paso's Resilience Shines Through After What Police Call A Hate-Driven Shooting


El Paso, Texas, a normally humming border city that took a severe blow on Saturday with a mass shooting that police are now treating as domestic terrorism. In the morning, as many parents were shopping for back-to-school supplies, a gunman opened fire at a Walmart. He killed 20 people. He left 26 injured. Police believe he is the author of a racist manifesto posted online detailing his reasons for carrying out this attack. He has now been charged with capital murder. We begin our coverage with Journalist Monica Ortiz Uribe, who is covering the story here in her hometown. She joins us here in El Paso. And, Monica, thank you for taking the time and for all your work on this.

MONICA ORTIZ URIBE, BYLINE: You're welcome, David.

GREENE: What are you hearing? What should we know this Monday morning?

ORTIZ URIBE: Well, we're beginning to know more about the families impacted. There's so many heart-wrenching stories. One of them is a mom who died seemingly shielding her 2-month-old infant from the gunman. Among the injured are three soccer coaches who were fundraising at the Walmart for their youth team. In the hospital lobby yesterday, a local pastor, Michael Grady - he's a former president of the El Paso NAACP. He broke down into tears as he hugged the county judge who was there visiting with the families.

MICHAEL GRADY: I'm here today because my daughter, Michelle Elise Grady (ph), was coming out of Walmart and was shot three times by a madman. Michelle just turned 33 July the 11.

ORTIZ URIBE: Michelle was about to go into her second surgery when her father and I spoke. He tells me bullets hit her hand and her back. Another ricocheted through her pelvis. She's the second of three sisters and works helping military vets access their medical benefits.

GRADY: She's just a beautiful, beautiful daughter. We love her. And we're praying, again, for divine intervention. And we're mixing faith and medicine together so that, hopefully, she will be able to recover.

GREENE: And we're all hoping so. It sounds like she might make it. But a lot of families in this position this morning. I just want to orient us. Like, we're talking this morning from an upper floor in a hotel in downtown El Paso. And we can see the lights of Mexico from here. This is a border community. I mean, this is a tragedy that's affected people in two countries on both sides of the border.

ORTIZ URIBE: Yes. So as of Sunday night, Mexican officials announced that seven Mexicans are among the dead. I spoke with the brother-in-law of 41-year-old Ivan Manzano (ph), who was one of the victims. Ivan sold medical supplies in neighboring Ciudad Juarez. And he leaves behind a wife, a 9-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter. He's among the many, many Mexican shoppers who contribute to the local economy on a daily basis. The Walmart is a quick 15-minute drive from the border. And walking into that store, you'd immediately get a sense of the bilingual, bicultural character that is El Paso.

GREENE: Monica, what are we learning about the shooter here?

ORTIZ URIBE: Well, the suspect is a 21-year-old white male. Authorities are looking into a manifesto possibly linked to him that indeed expresses anti-immigrant sentiments and refers to the, quote, "Hispanic invasion of Texas." This man is from a suburb outside Dallas. The FBI believes he acted alone. And he's currently booked into the county jail without bond, facing a charge of capital murder.

GREENE: I know it has to be an experience to cover something like this in your hometown. You know, we've reported here together before on immigration issues. Just reflect on this as a resident, as someone who knows El Paso so well.

ORTIZ URIBE: Gosh, well, I mean I think I'm - myself, just as much as everyone else, is trying to do our best to hold it together and do our jobs. I mean, El Paso has had to show a great deal of resiliency lately. It's been at the receiving end of thousands of Central American migrants fleeing poverty and violence. And by and large, the community has responded in the same way to both situations humanely. Last night, El Pasoans gathered for an interfaith vigil. They delivered food and water to one of the ERs treating patients, as well as to law enforcement out working the Walmart crime scene. Since Saturday, a local fundraiser has raised at least $250,000 to aid those impacted by the shooting. And, in fact, that figure is probably a lot higher by now.

GREENE: Journalist Monica Ortiz Uribe joining us in El Paso this morning. Monica, thanks for all your work. We really appreciate it.

ORTIZ URIBE: Sure thing, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Former Fronteras Senior Field Correspondent Mónica Ortiz Uribe (KRWG, Las Cruces) is a native of El Paso, Texas.