Nearly three months after the shooting that took the lives of 22 shoppers and injured 26, the Cielo Vista Walmart reopened Thursday, November 14th.
As members of the press and law enforcement looked on, shoppers slowly made their way into the remodeled store. Cheers could be heard from the Walmart staffers inside.
Some Walmart team members and shoppers alike comforted each other as the reopening got underway.
One shopper who spoke with our crew said she felt a bit uneasy walking into to the store, but the feeling quickly went away, once she was inside and the staff welcomed her in.
Father Fabian Marquez, who visited the site a few weeks back, was invited back by Walmart team members to start the day with a prayer. Once the doors opened for the east-central store, it quickly filled with shoppers.
Many had feared that the store – the only large grocery store within walking distance for the nearby neighborhoods – would not be reopening.
Beginning Tuesday, the City of El Paso will be removing items from the makeshift community memorial near the Cielo Vista Walmart that honors the victims of the August 3 shooting.
“As our region continues to heal, we are working to honor the sentiment and wishes behind the items that were brought to the makeshift community memorial,” said Quality of Life Deputy City Manager Tracey Jerome. “Ponder Park became the place where our community gathered in the immediate hours following this horrific act, and we hope the park will continue to be a place where people can go to reflect and heal.”
City officials shared that the process involves two phases: selecting and moving a variety of items to a temporary memorial located at Ponder Park, 7500 W. H. Burges Drive, and removing and cataloging the remaining them for historical purposes.
Professionals from the El Paso Museum of Art, the El Paso Museum of History and the Public Art Program will install various select items on a structure that has been installed at Ponder Park, a few blocks from the Cielo Vista Walmart.
Museum archival experts and volunteers will be working with the Central Transportation and International Moving Warehouse to carefully disassemble the makeshift memorial.
Every item will be cataloged and archived in order to document this part of El Paso’s history.
Central Transportation and International Moving Warehouse are assisting with the process as a donation to serve the El Paso community. The donation is an example of the outpouring of donations and assistance, both large and small, from businesses and individuals throughout the region’s heartrending experience.
The City of El Paso developed the process for the move after consulting with experts from other communities that were impacted by similar acts of violence.
“The city received invaluable guidance from Pittsburgh, Orlando, Boston, Las Vegas and the 9/11 Memorial Museum in order to determine the next steps to move forward,” officials added.
The man accused of killing 22 people and injuring more than two dozen others in the August 3rd shooting at the Cielo Vista Walmart plead not guilty at his first appearance in court Thursday afternoon.
Amid the clicking shutters of cameras and the hushed whispers of those in attendance in the packed El Paso County Ceremonial Courtroom, Patrick Crusius entered and at times stood with a neutral look on his face as the arraignment proceedings went on around him.
Security was tight in and around the court, as uniformed Sheriff’s Deputies, as well as other law enforcement were visible. Several deputies stood side by side, facing the courtroom’s gallery.
During the brief hearing, Crusius was sworn in, and then advised the court that he did not want the charges read to him; instead Crusius received a transcript and read them himself.
He then pleaded not guilty to the charges, surrounded by his lawyers and security personnel.
Judge Sam Medrano, of the 409th state District Court presiding over the hearing, then set another hearing for November 7th at 2 p.m.
District Attorney Jaime Esparza did not comment on the case. Esparza is seeking the death penalty in this case.
After a gunman took the life of Margie Reckard in a mass shooting at a Walmart store two weeks ago, her husband Antonio Basco didn’t have any other family in this town. So he invited all El Pasoans to celebrate “the love of his life” at her funeral Friday.
Their response overwhelmed him.
Hundreds of people began lining up outside La Paz Faith Memorial and Spiritual Center in Central El Paso at about 5 p.m. The line of supporters eventually spanned several blocks and grew to nearly 1,000. A group of motorcyclists that included several veterans stood at attention while holding American flags. Later, neighbors set up a buffet line for supporters who were still in line as the afternoon turned to evening.
Basco thanked the people there for the support. A thin, 61-year old man who walks with the help of a cane, he greeted hundreds of supporters inside the church, where mariachis serenaded parishioners before an hour-long prayer service delivered by Bishop Harrison Johnson.But the El Pasoans who lined up to offer their condolences said they also owed Basco for offering them a chance to come together and try to heal as a community.
Dean Eckard, Reckard’s son who came to El Paso from Omaha for the services, described her as a gentle soul who “had it tough” growing up.
“But when she met Tony though, she seemed really happy and in love,” he said. Eckard added that his mother was battling Parkinson’s disease when she died. “For Tony to stick by her through those years … I can’t thank you enough.”
Earlier this week Basco told CNN that he takes fresh flowers to a vigil at the Walmart everyday. In a video posted by the news outlet, Basco could be seen speaking to his wife at the site of a white cross that bears her name.
“There’s going to be a lot of people. I told you you were important,” he said before the funeral. “So what you been up to? What are you going to do up there? I wish you could tell me something.”
The attack on Aug. 3 killed 22 people and is being investigated as a hate crime. Authorities believe the gunman posted an online manifesto railing against the “invasion” of Texas by immigrants and Mexicans. Friday’s funeral was one of the final services for the victims of the massacre, which included eight Mexican citizens. The attack has thrust the issue of gun control back into the spotlight; Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the creation of a domestic terrorism task force.
State Rep. Joe Moody, an El Paso Democrat, said the display was a physical manifestation of the city still trying to make sense of the tragedy.
“This is a very real way for everyone to openly grieve and go through that process. When you lose someone in your personal life, this is a part of that process you go through,” he said. “I think our community lost something and this is our community grieving together.”
Politics wasn’t a major theme Friday night. But Salvador Perches, owner of Perches Funeral Homes who coordinated the service, announced he ordered 22 hearses to deliver the hundreds of floral arrangements donated for the funeral to the Walmart parking lot to honor the victims.
He also hopes to make a point.
“We’re going to make a statement to the world,” he said. “That something is wrong, and something needs to change.”
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More than 20 people were killed in an Aug. 3, 2019, shooting rampage at a Walmart in El Paso. The gunman was arrested and charged with capital murder for the shooting in El Paso, which is recoveringfrom what federal law enforcement has classified as an act of domestic terrorism.
Officials with University Medical Center of El Paso and El Paso Children’s Hospital provided an update on the patients treated at each hospital as a result of the mass casualty shooting at an El Paso Walmart on August 3.
As of today, five patients remain hospitalized at UMC.
The following is an update regarding all 15 patients brought to University Medical Center of El Paso as a result of the mass casualty shooting:
1 adult patient remains in critical condition and is receiving treatment in University Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit
4 adult patients are in stable but serious condition at University Medical Center
7 adult patients have been discharged from University Medical Center
2 children were transferred from University Medical Center to El Paso Children’s Hospital on Aug. 3 with non-life threatening injuries and discharged by El Paso Children’s Hospital Aug. 4
1 adult patient was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at University Medical Center on Aug. 3
Officials added that another update would be provided “when there is a significant change in status of these patients.”